A lot changes in translation from the original script to what makes it to the screen. Decisions are made, as are sacrifices, that sometimes change a story for the better and sometimes for the worse. Either way, it can be fun to track down the original script to see what changed. Because, more often than not, it’s a hell of a lot. Usually, though, the creators never get to showcase their own original versions. The scripts are almost never sold for public consumption.
Writer Jeffrey Reddick is looking to change all that, though, as he recently announced on The Movie Crypt podcast that he is adapting his original script for Final Destination into a novel. That story began life as a spec script for an X-Files episode. But the agent said it could sustain itself as a feature, so Reddick wrote something very different from the film that was eventually made. In his original version, Death actually coerces the survivors into suicide by playing on their guilt instead of causing accidents.
This is par for the course in Hollywood, where the script is more or less a blue print and everything changes. Some changes are more drastic than others, though. These are the ones I would like to see turned into a novel next.
Within the Woods
Okay, so Sam Raimi’s original short film and script was duller than The Evil Dead, but that doesn’t change the fact that I would absolutely buy this book. Especially if it were written by Raimi himself. Come to think of it, Bruce Campbell has proven himself as a successful author. Let’s get him to do it. This original no-budget version of their no-budget movie is ironically much slower given that it’s a short turned into a feature.
I actually really like Scream 2. I enjoy its ending and Mickey’s motivation as a killer definitely spoke to the cultural mindset of the late 1990’s. But that wasn’t always meant to be. Early in production, the script leaked out and the ending had to be changed. The early drafts really up the ante by having almost everyone who isn’t Sidney turn out to be the killer. That would really screw with someone who already has trust issues. I’d love to see a murder mystery novel work its way up to that twist.
Wouldn’t it be great to see Michael De Luca’s original ending for the Nightmare franchise get some kind of treatment, even on the page? This wasn’t necessarily less goofy than what we wound up with, but it at least adhered to series continuity. The protagonist is a grown-up Jacob from The Dream Child and even brings back the Dream Warriors, who have gone on after their deaths to become the “Dream Police.” Yes. That’s a page turner I would read.
There were a lot of insane drafts of Alien 3 but if I had to pick one it would have to be Eric Red’s. While Red is a great screenwriter, responsible for both The Hitcher and Near Dark, there were too many cooks in the kitchen for his Alien draft to take off. His version was set in a sort of Bio-Dome commune, a space colony that eventually merges with the xenomorph to become an alien itself. It’s a weird idea. But there are dozens of Alien novels out there, so what’s one more?
Fun fact: the first draft of Dream Warriors was novelized once before, in a book adapting the first three features in the franchise. But it was about 45 pages long. Wes Craven tried his hand at novels with the Crichton-esque Fountain Society, so I want him to pen this adaptation himself. It would be great to see this happen, to see Craven go deep and turn it into a 500 page epic because that’s the only way his everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink script would have room to breathe. I just really want to know what was going through Freddy’s mind when he shoved his glove up Kincaid’s ass until it came out his mouth, further cementing this script as what it always was: Wes Craven writing his own fan fiction.
It’s widely known at this point that Chris Columbus’ early drafts of Gremlins were much more of a straightforward horror movie. This is one I would actually be really interested in seeing as a novel, although I doubt Columbus would go back to the first script he ever sold to turn it into a hard-edged piece of horror fiction. But the movie itself turned out great and I’d like to see the original version have a place to stand on its own. A novel just might be the perfect place for that.