Thursday, June 28, 2012

From The Archives: You'll Never Believe How This Was Supposed To End!

Have you ever seen A Nightmare On Elm Street? No, not the Samuel Bayer directed remake from Platinum Dunes, I mean the original Wes Craven crafted masterpiece! If not, let me spell out the basics.

Nancy Thompson has been having bad dreams as of late.
Heather Langenkamp as Nancy The Freddy Slayer
All her friends have, but when Tina is apparently murdered by her boyfriend Rod things really start getting weird.
Tina as portrayed by Amanda Wyss
Rod claims that he didn't murder Tina.  That she was mutilated by an invisible force!  No one believes him, but when Nancy has a nightmare about a scarred killer with knives on his fingers, she begins to think there’s more to Rod’s story than he‘s getting credit for.
                     Rod as played by Jsu Garcia
As things fall into place we learn their nocturnal boogeyman is the ghost of a crazed child-killer named Fred Kreuger. Ten years before, he was burned alive by a group of parents in a vigilante action and now he‘s back for revenge on their children!
Robert Englund As The Most Handsome Man In The Universe
Chances are you probably knew that already. But, did you know that in Wes Craven’s original script none of his characters died?

Originally, Nancy realizes that Freddy is only a dream, turns her back on him, and wakes up, revealing her nightmare to have been just that; a nightmare. She walks out of her house at the end, being greeted by all the friends Freddy supposedly killed. They hop into a car together and ride away.

Producer Robert Shaye wasn’t sold on the idea. He suggested an alternate ending (that ended up being the actual ending) where Nancy wakes up thinking she is safe, but when she drives away with her friends, Freddy reappears taking control of the car and apparently killing her mother.
Robert Shaye As The Man Who Caused Wes Craven\'s Production Nightmare
Craven hated this ending, and ending up shooting four different endings trying to find something that would please both him and Robert Shaye. None of them worked and to this day he has a bitter taste in his mouth about the final film.
Wes Craven As The Last Thing Robert Shaye Will See Before He Dies
The interesting thing about this, is that if Mr. Craven had succeeded he would have created what is, to my knowledge at least, the world’s first victimless horror movie.

What’s even more interesting is that despite Mr. Shaye’s intervention, just such a movie was released two years after Nightmare made it’s debut in 1984.

April Fool’s Day was a largely forgettable outing by director Fred Walton who oversaw such made-for-television movies as The Stepford Husbands and the vastly underrated remake of William Castle’s classic I Saw What You Did.

The film is about a cast of teenagers going off for a weekend romp on a private Island owned by their estranged heiress friend Muffy St. John (played by Deborah Foreman). Once there, the teens start getting picked off faster than Batman’s sidekicks. The film climaxes when the two remaining survivors discover that Muffy has a deranged identical twin sister who’s confined to the Island and ends when Bizarro Muffy chases the heroine into a room … where all her dead friends are alive, well, and having a party.

April Fools you poor, grief stricken wretch you! Your friends just scared the pants off you, made you think you were about to die, but it’s okay. It was only a joke. Now it’s time to party! Seriously, that’s what happens. The schizo sister turns out to be a myth (Muffy having played the deranged sibling herself) and everyone lives happily ever after … only they weren’t supposed to.
Muffy St. John As The Worst Hostess In The World
As if Fate was somehow cosmically balancing the injustice done to Mr. Craven, the producers of the film were afraid that the finished film would run over two hours, so they completely nixed most of the original third act. The film was supposed to go on past the April Fool’s joke, as the teens learn that a real killer is loose on the Island and while Muffy’s been playing her pranks the deranged maniac has been watching them and is now read to turn Muffy’s sick sense of humor against her.

There was a novel released in conjunction with the original film that preserves the true ending.

There’s no real point to this article beyond noting the strange fate of these two movies. I just thought it was amusing that the world’s only victimless horror film was supposed to have a body count and one of the most famous slasher films in history was going to end on a positive note with everyone living happily ever after. I’d say it’s funny in an ironic sense, but somehow I doubt either Wes Craven or Fred Walton would get the joke.

1 comment:

  1. My fave part of April Fool's was when the hero gets trapped in a room as he's trying to outrun a guy with a knife. He starts crying and screaming his head off in love for the heroine. Then the guy with a knife shows up, kisses the hero and sticks his fake scar on the hero's face. "I love you too, man." Man the look on the hero's face was so worth it!

    Despite the arguments over the ending and the fact that they shot everyone's idea and ended up using bits of all of them, I kinda liked the befuddling ending. For all you know, Nancy's still dreaming. Technically, her friends didn't die. I mean, if she survived the car ride to return in 3, they probably survived too.