What You Didn't See
So one day
I went to the studio to see the edited film. It was just me sitting
in a darkened room with the projector running, and this was even before
the sound was looped, so I was watching what was basically a very
talky silent - good thing I knew all the lines. It was my first intimation
of any real trouble. The movie was just plain too long - over two
and a half hours, if memory serves.
the bat, there is a eulogy scene at the end of the original that was
cut: Reggie at Marc's graveside. The sound was never looped for that
scene, so it isn't even on my director's cut tape (no, you may not
have a copy). Roger later said he liked the way that left the ending
open for interpretation, but I think that opinion goes under the heading
of trying to put a positive spin on a bad situation. I hated it. (I've
gone on at interminable length elsewhere about endings-that-are-not-endings)
Marc is dead, okay? Dead, dead, dead. Glad to have finally gotten
that off my chest, and to have ended any pointless debates that have
doubtless been going on for the last thirteen years (oops - better
batten down that Delusions of Grandeur filter)..
the movie originally opened with that scene - with Reggie dragging
Marc's body out the back of Nash's office:
It doesn't begin here.
CAMERA PANS DOWN to closeup on license
plates: they bear the current year.
CLOSE SHOT of another license plate: the
date is two years earlier.
It begins here.
we would have proceeded to the first scene with Marc and his doomed
friends. But that scene was cut by United. You see, the demo
reel which they had wanted included had been placed at the chronologically
correct point, about 45 minutes into the movie. United moved it into
the very front, pre-credits position. This is why, at the very end
of those opening credits, you see a door - it was supposed to dissolve
into the door that was kicked open by Reggie.
excised at least one other totally unnecessary scene, where Marc's
doctor and her father act as clay pigeons to set up the final fight
with Alfie by renting a cabin from villainous realtor Parker Nash
during the time that Yog Kothag's cosmic timetable demanded a sacrifice.
He then covered the transition with a driving scene, with two lines
of dialogue taking the place of that scene - voila! Almost five minutes
was also an entirely problematic situation going on with the distributors
during the post-period; only years later, after everyone had kissed
and made up and notes were compared, did we find out that we were
sabotaged by Middlemen with an Agenda. Why, we will never know, but
Roger was prevented from doing any further work on the final cut.
United themselves scissored several other scenes, the first of which
was the entire sequence concerning Marc & Reggie training at a
karate dojo, filmed at a real dojo in a Houston suburb. Like so many
of my other scenes, it was way too long and detailed - today, I would
have found a simpler way to put out the same information. It's exclusion
led to my moment of chagrin last time , when Reggie snaps the chain
on the axe not by dint of training, but by apparently hulking out.
shoot had another of my favorite examples of low-budget ingenuity:
Roger wanted a dolly shot, and accomplished it simply by acquiring
a shopping cart from the supermarket next door and sitting in it.
deleted was another lengthy sequence where Marc & Reggie are accosted
by a gang of street thugs after a late night movie. The thugs, of
course, do not realize that they are picking on a couple
of people who are training to be superheroes, and the predictable
carnage ensues. Marc, in particular, is glad to finally be able to
let off a little steam and nearly kills the leader. Also missing ,
therefore, is the scene afterwards where Marc deals with his emerging
Warrior Self, and other Joseph Campbell crap I chose to throw in.
Besides completely losing the mythic qualities of the script - which
probably shouldn't have been in there anyway, so sue me - this segment
was the last remaining vestige of what I considered an important subplot,
which was Marc's (understandable) fear of the dark ever since the
massacre. The rest of that got lost somewhere between my last
draft and the shooting script.
segment would also have included my second appearance in the movie.
The scene would have started with a shot of the movies marquee - Marc
& Reggie had been watching Roger's first movie, The Jet Benny
Show, incidentally - and panned down to them leaving the theater.
I was one of the people leaving behind them. In particular, I was
the guy in the beret shaking his head sadly.
one more excision that was like a blow to me: it was a short bit of
dialogue between Marc & Reggie, as they sit, back-to-back, awaiting
the final fight with Alfie:
This is it, huh?
Yeah. This is it.
Me, too. We'd be idiots if we weren't.
I don't regret it.
My time with you.
For not regretting it, I guess.
Pause. They sit in silence, waiting....
bit of dialogue had survived since FE's first incarnation as
a short story, and I was quite fond of it; it presaged a later scene
where Reggie refuses to let Marc go on a suicide mission to kill Nash
simply because she loves him. That admission now, as does so
much else, comes out of left field, with no foreshadowing. Additional
foreshadowing was provided the fear-of-darkness scenes, mentioned
as cut earlier - come on, if you've seen the movie, you noticed that,
suddenly and without fanfare, Marc and Reggie are sleeping in the
same bed. Reggie had more time to deal with the post-traumatic stress
of her massacre. Helping Marc deal with his was therapy for
her, too. I'd be able to write that better, today - it was pretty
clumsy in the script as filmed. Not that you'll ever see those scenes.
wasn't the only thing that got chopped either - the distributor didn't
like the music track, provided by Houston musician Marianne Pendino
and stripped it out (though she was still credited on the original video box),
and replaced it with one from their house composer. Then they remixed
the sound, which somehow resulted in squashing the EQ, muting the
effects track and rendering the voice track ever so slightly
out of sync, murdering the sound track we had labored on for so long...
but that is a tale for next time.
The Art of Noise