by Taylor Leonard
The cutting room floor is home to many fascinating film sequences which failed to make it to the movie theater. Whether it’s the alternate reality where Marty McFly is played by Eric Stoltz or the revelation that Jedi communicate like baseball players, most deleted scenes and radical adjustments to a film’s narrative are done so for the sake of improvement. Some, however, are removed for reasons to do with horror and fear, as the following list reveals:
For the ten people out there who haven’t seen the movie: spoilers ahead. Burke, the infamous human villain in Aliens played by Paul Reiser, gets an ambiguous ending in the final cut of the film. It leaves an audience member or two wishing for a more vicious visual outcome for the treacherous character. Such was originally the case in a deleted scene towards the movie’s climax, where Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, comes across Burke locked in a cocoon, alive but begging to be helped. Director James Cameron claims the reason for the scene’s removal was that, according to Alien universe logic, Burke shouldn’t have been conscious at the time, but we’ll say it’s partly due to the brutality of the footage as well.
The Black Cauldron (1985)
“The Cauldron Born”
Walt Disney Animation Studios is known for its industry changing, but ultimately family friendly, catalog of motion pictures. One lesser known title is The Black Cauldron, an ambitious yet ultimately flawed movie released during the Disney Dark Age. It lives up to the era by being a particularly graphic motion picture compared to what you normally expect from the company that gave us Mickey Mouse. In fact, the original cut was so disturbing to test audiences it was reanimated to account for the ensuing edits. These included the removal of most of a scene where henchman are shown to be dissolving to death in agony. Though stills of the deleted sequence have been found, the original footage has never been released and is rumored to be locked away on Disney property somewhere. Below is the Army of the Dead sequence.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Deaths of Vic Morrow, Myca Dinh Le, and Renee Shin Yi Chen
On July 23, 1982 the set of the motion picture adaptation of the famous Twilight Zone television series was struck by tragedy when actor Vic Morrow and the two child performers he was carrying in his arms were struck by a crashing helicopter. Morrow and the oldest child, Myca Dinh Le, were decapitated by the helicopter’s rotor blades while the youngest child, Renee Shin Yi Chen, was crushed by the aircraft’s skids. The entire event was caught on camera from several different angles. The planned scene was subsequently scrapped and replaced, while the filmmakers faced civil and criminal charges. Note: while the video below is a Faces of Death video, no gruesome or gory footage is seen. It’s still chilling though.
Event Horizon (1997)
“Visions from Hell” Extended
Initially met with negative responses from both audiences and critics, Event Horizon has seen increased appreciation in recent years for its inventive approach to the otherwise old hat science fiction/horror combo. The film is known for its intense sequences of shocking violence, but these scenes are nothing compared to what filmmakers had originally envisioned for the final cut. The first cut shown to test audiences and studio executives was deemed far too gory to be released in theaters, resulting in major edits. The footage considered too extreme has been for all intents and purposes lost to history, with what few reels located in a Transylvanian salt mine found to be severely deteriorated.
King Kong (1933)
The Lost “Spider Pit Sequence”
Groundbreaking for its time, King Kong originally included a scene which according to producer/director Merian C. Cooper “stopped the story” due to its gruesome content. Known as the “Spider Pit Sequence” the scene featured several sailors being eaten alive by a variety of large creatures. Cinema legend dictates the images caused members of the audience to shriek, faint, and even flee the theater. Despite an exhaustive worldwide search, no trace of the footage has ever been found. However, Peter Jackson recreated it:
And in the 2005 remake, Jackson went all out to imagine the scene on film:
Just about every movie is bound to have a deleted scene or two. When available for viewing on the DVD special features, you can usually see why. Sometimes, however, footage is removed due to disturbing content deemed unfit for the final cut.