Admit it: you sometimes skip to the deleted scenes when you first pop in that DVD. Sure, there?s an entire movie to be watched, but it can?t compare to the mystique of the stuff that didn?t make it in, the stuff that would be locked forever in film vaults if studios weren?t so desperate to pad out DVD ?special editions.?
Well, some scenes are still lost to us DVD-buying peons. That?s often for good reason, but we?ve dug up ten that stir a certain fascination, morbid or otherwise, in our inner film nerd.
10) ?Murder by Mist? in Disney?s The Black Cauldron
As Disney?s first PG-rated animated flick, The Black Cauldron was also the studio?s darkest, a title it might still hold even after the high body count of Atlantis: The Lost Empire and the manifold furry depravities of Brother Bear. A trite and surprisingly grim adaptation of Lloyd Alexander?s far more clever Prydain novels, the Black Cauldron?s original cut was, in fact, edited to remove things too graphic for even a PG. While we don?t care about Disney yanking images of Princess Eilonwy?s clothes ripping a little too much (and if you care, seek help), they also cut two scenes that could only have improved the film.
In one of these missing shots, an undead warrior spawned by the title cauldron gorily slices through an unsuspecting villager. In the other, one of the villain?s more disposable henchmen gets a dose of cauldron-born mist and dissolves quite messily. These scenes have never been released by Disney, surfacing only in anecdotes from the film?s staffers and in this animation cel, which allegedly shows off the amazing dissolving henchmen.
Damn, Disney. You missed your chance to scar a generation of kids even more than the death of Optimus Prime.
9) ?More Dead Robots? in Transformers: The Movie
Speaking of that testament to childhood trauma, Transformers: The Movie featured a few scenes that never made it into the movie. Fans love the idea of seeing the Autobots? little-loved stop-gap leader Ultra Magnus getting drawn and quartered by Deception jets, as per the original script, but his was only one of many gruesome robot deaths never animated.
Our favorite comes during the movie?s first major Autobot-Decepticon battles, when the brilliant toy-selling scheme known as the Constructicons merges to form the gigantic Devastator and pound on the Autobot base. In the final cut, the scene ends there, but in the movie?s storyboards, Devastator peels back the base?s thin candy shell to find Ultra Magnus and three other Autobots (including the prissy Red Alert) waiting for him. Magnus breaks Devastator apart with one well-placed blast, but the Constructicons rise separately and return fire, shooting Red Alert in the back as the Autobots flee. Red Alert is then stepped on by the pursuing Decepticons, and his corpse later appears amid background wreckage. Sorry, Red Alert. Nobody likes a firefighting Lamborghini.
8) ?Gone to Tosche Station? in Star Wars
The directing skills of George Lucas may be too easy a target for ridicule, but we?ve got to wonder why, of all the scenes restored in his 1997 ?Special Edition? of Star Wars, he left out a genuinely interesting one. Instead of some banal exchange between Han and a blubbery Jabba, we could?ve seen Tosche Station and learned just why Luke was so whiny about going there to pick up power converters.
Woven into the movie?s opening shots of R2-D2 and C-3PO escaping the Empire?s forces and crashing on Tatooine, the Tosche scenes show Luke gazing at the space battle above and chatting with his friend Biggs Darklighter, who tells Luke just why teenagers on some pissant desert world should join an intergalactic rebellion.
While Biggs later showed up to get shot down in the film?s climactic Death Star assault, two of Luke?s other friends, Fixer and Camie, completely disappeared from the film when the Tosche Station scenes went. Camie, played by hottie actress and British royal plaything Koo Stark, would?ve made her mark by snatching Luke?s binoculars and thereby establishing herself the second most empowered female character in the original Star Wars trilogy.
The whole sequence is available legally only on a Star Wars: Behind the Magic CD-ROM, but deleted scenes belong on DVD, alongside other scenes that should have been deleted.
7) ?Kong?s Pit of Pets? in King Kong
When it comes to classic lost movie scenes, nothing really touches King Kong?s spider pit sequence. Sure, we could give this space to all the footage that RKO ripped out of Orson Welles? allegedly masterful cut of The Magnificent Ambersons, but Welles? movie never had a giant ape tossing sailors into a ravine to feed a bunch of giant bugs and lizards.
In the film, we?re made to imagine Kong?s would-be captors meeting swift and merciful fatal head injuries after they?re shaken off a log and into a pit, but, as the story goes, the original test screenings of King Kong saw the sailors gruesomely devoured by the pit?s resident enormous lizards, crabs and spiders, all in that creepy stop-motion way. Depending on who you believe, Kong producer Meriam C. Cooper excised the scene either to keep the story moving or because test audiences found the bugs more horrifying than Kong himself. We like the latter account, even if it’s a big lie.
It must be noted that director Peter Jackson did the next best thing to finding the lost spider pit sequence; he painstakingly recreated it for of King Kong?s DVD release in 2005. But it?s not quite the same.
6) ?In Space, No One Can Hear You Screw? in Alien
Ridley Scott once described Alien as a slasher film in space, and it almost fills that role, what with the lurking, never-fully-seen horror, the uncomfortably sexualized violence, and, of course, a first victim too dumb to merit sympathy. But there?s one thing missing: a gratuitous sex scene. Scott?s storyboards for the film had one, but it was never actually shot for two obvious reasons. One, it involves Tom Skerritt having sex. Two, it?d be way too funny to fit in a movie about an acid-bleeding alien death-raping a bunch of space truckers.
The setup: shortly after launching the corpse of Kane, their chest-burst crewmate, off into space, a dejected Ripley and Captain Dallas (Skerritt) meet up in the ship?s shuttle craft and explore the sexual tension only hinted at in the movie?s final cut. They?re interrupted when Kane?s corpse drifts by the shuttle?s window. Both the scene?s description and Scott?s drawing come across as a bit too silly for Alien, but mood-breaking scenes are the stuff that DVD extras are made of. And if Peter Jackson can recreate a King Kong scene seventy years lost, why can?t Scott recreate Alien?s missing comical tryst? Just use CG instead of the real Skerritt.
5) ?Satellite Storm Shelter? in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
In its ten years on the air, Mystery Science Theater 3000 was known for two things: expertly mocking awful films and getting fucked over by executives. Clueless studio mistreatment extended even to the MST3K movie, which had scenes yanked and endings changed, all in the name of appeasing test audiences who probably didn?t even exist.
While MST3K: The Movie?s target of ridicule, 1955?s This Island Earth, and its attendant quips were cut down, it was even harsher to pull out host sequences with Mike Nelson, Crow, Tom Servo and Gypsy. The film gave the MST3K crew a higher budget than usual, letting series fans see more of the Satellite of Love than a single set.
The best of these host scenes involves a meteor shower that sends Mike and his proverbial robot pals into the Satellite?s cellar. As they huddle among shelves of Tom?s precious canned hash, the air supply shorts out, leaving Mike unconscious and Servo and Crow ineffectually panicking. The bots? attempts to resuscitate him, including a rocketing Servo and mouth-to-mouth from Gypsy, are perfect extras for any MST3K nut. They?re apparently not on the upcoming MST3K: The Movie DVD, but here?s a YouTube clip.
4) ?The War Room Pie Fight? in Dr. Strangelove
Stanley Kubrick?s made film nerds cry many times, partly because of his penchant for destroying footage of deleted scenes from his movies. Yet we?re hoping that the most famous of his unused footage survives, even if it?s not on DVD.
Kubrick?s original ending for the satirical Dr. Strangelove was far more elaborate than the nuclear bomb montage he ultimately used. Instead of debates about mine-shaft gaps, the Russian and American delegates ended their meeting with a massive pie fight, with President Muffley (Peter Sellers) taking one full in the face while Dr. Strangelove (also Sellers) stands from his wheelchair and then falls over, starting a scene-long wormlike struggle to get back in the chair. The whole sequence was cut because it was actually too much fun for the actors, who were supposed to be serious about it. Kubrick hated the scene, but we?re betting it?s a lot more entertaining than, say, the entirety of Eyes Wide Shut.
3) ?Wesley Crusher?s First Alien Encounter? in The Last Starfighter
Wil Wheaton?s done a lot to defuse the enduring hatred Star Trek fans have for Wesley Crusher. For starters, he?s stayed close to nerd culture by writing about ancient arcade games for The Onion, releasing a few books, and maintaining a blog that we find hard to hate. And it would probably help if we could see more of Wheaton?s less annoying old roles, including his turn in The Last Starfighter.
Young Wheaton?s scenes were mostly inconsequential; he?s one of the trailer-park friends of the hero?s little brother. Though he?s visible in the background here and there, his speaking roles were edited out and never appended to any DVD release. It?s not quite the rumored Jawa village footage from Star Wars, but any hidden scenes from The Last Starfighter have geek cred galore.
Another snipped scene we?d like to see: the original ending, which had the film?s heroic arcade jockey Lance Guest congratulated by the bizarre alien leaders of the planets he just saved.
2) ?The Flaming Nips? in Blue Velvet
David Lynch?s weirdness doesn?t end with his movies; for example, the director seemingly dislikes releasing deleted scenes, even though headtrips like Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me spawned lots of them.
For Lynch?s trend-settingly odd Blue Velvet, the best we have are stills showing some lost scenes, including one bizarre little episode originally planned when the psychotic Frank (Dennis Hopper) drags Jeffery (pre-Showgirls Kyle MacLachlan) off to a pool hall. Their trip normally ends shortly after Frank?s now-famous endorsement of Pabst Blue Ribbon, but in Lynch?s extended version of the scene, Frank wanders among the bar?s patrons, meeting a woman who diligently removes her top and sets her nipples on fire. Let?s see Roger Ebert hate Blue Velvet with that added in.
1) ?Burke?s Baby? in Aliens
If there?s one disappointment in James Cameron?s masterful Alien sequel, it?s that Paul Reiser gets off way to easily. As Burke, the oily Weyland-Yutani rep whose corporate greed kills an entire town of settlers and half a battalion of Colonial Marines, Reiser is last seen fleeing a Xenomorph-Marine firefight and running straight into the double jaws of H.R. Giger?s greatest creation.
It seems too swift a fate for the man responsible for hundreds of deaths and half of My Two Dads, and Cameron apparently agreed. His original draft for Aliens included a shot of heroine Ripley finding Burke, cocooned and with an alien chestburster gestating inside him, during her frantic search for surrogate daughter Newt. Burke, true to character, whines about the alien fetus kicking inside him. Disgusted on two counts, Ripley hands him a grenade, puts his thumb on the primer, and keeps on walking.
The scene, shown only in still shots on DVD editions of Aliens, was reportedly cut because Cameron just didn?t like it, but there?s another reason: it doesn?t fit. By Aliens? internal logic, Burke would still be wearing one of those face-hugger crabs. And while that might?ve marked Reiser?s most disturbing on-screen kiss until Mad About You, it would lose that all-important air of comeuppance.
Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.