A crucial portion of the filmmaking process is when the final product is assembled. While it’s an exciting moment, it’s also frustrating as scenes that cast and crew spent hours creating inevitably end up on the cutting room floor. There are millions of reasons scenes might be excised from a film: A desire to keep a movie to 90 minutes, attempts to get a specific rating, and undesired results can all lead to deep and often painful extractions.
In some cases, the choice to remove material is deemed wise, or at the very least appropriate. But in other cases, potentially brilliant moments we slashed over fears of censorship, audience alienation, or producers meddling with a director’s final product—and examples like these are a damn shame, as they are clearly at odds with a purely creative process.
I’ve scoured the Internet to bring you some of the best deleted scenes from horror movies we never saw. Many of these clips became available with the advent of DVD’s and the extra features contained therein; others were saved from obscurity, with only faded copies of what might have been. Have a look and let us know what scenes you found most compelling in the Comments section!
Alien (1979, Directed by Ridley Scott)
Official Synopsis: In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and attaches itself to one of the crew, causing him to fall into a coma.
Deleted Scene: Dallas’s Actual Death
As Ripley (and Jonesy) make their final dash towards the escape pod before the Nostromo self-destructs, she comes across presumed-dead crewmate Dallas: He’s been cocooned and impregnated by a face-hugger. She torches him to save him the pain of chest-buster alien birth. It would have made the film more intense at the time, but the inclusion of the Alien Queen in later installments would have caused incongruity, as only she can lay eggs.
Deleted Scene: Lambert’s Actual Death
The Xenomorph creeps up on Lambert before letting her have it. While the tail looks cool as hell, the crab-walk and the alien standing up both look like human motions. Ultimately, it was best this scene was cut, as we never get a good idea of how the alien moves—which actually makes the film more terrifying. FX would improve in later Alien installments, making future Xenomorph movements much more otherworldly.
Aliens (1986, Directed by James Cameron)
Official Synopsis: After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine-year-old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds of aliens that have invaded the colony.
Deleted Scene: Carter Burke’s Actual Death
During her final frantic search for Newt, Ripley comes across the presumed dead Carter Burke; it’s a scene very reminiscent of the deleted Dallas scene from Alien. Despite his attempt to kill her, Ripley is not completely unsympathetic to Burke’s situation, but knowing he’s doomed, she can’t help. She gives him a grenade before continuing her search for Newt. James Cameron says he deleted the scene, in part, because the timing doesn’t match previously established alien gestation cycles.
The Butterfly Effect (2004, Directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber)
Official Synopsis: College student Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) is afflicted with headaches so painful that he frequently blacks out. While unconscious, Evan is able to travel back in time to difficult moments in his childhood. He can also alter the past for friends, like Kayleigh (Amy Smart), who was molested by her father (Eric Stoltz). But changing the past can drastically alter the present, and Evan finds himself in nightmarish alternate realities, including one where he’s locked away in prison.
Deleted Scene: In-utero Suicide
The Butterfly Effect ends with Evan successfully changing the timeline, saving his life’s love from a brutal childhood at the expense of their relationship (she has no idea who he is). In the Director’s Cut, Evan travels back in time, all the way into the womb, and commits suicide by strangling himself with his own umbilicus. It’s a harrowing scene that’s difficult to watch, but very impactful. Evan has ended a family curse that might have continued on forever.
The Fly (1986, Directed by David Cronenberg)
Official Synopsis: When scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) completes his teleportation device, he decides to test its abilities on himself. Unbeknownst to him, a housefly slips in during the process, leading to a merger of man and insect. Initially, Brundle appears to have undergone a successful teleportation, but the fly’s cells begin to take over his body. As he becomes increasingly fly-like, Brundle’s girlfriend (Geena Davis) is horrified as the person she once loved deteriorates into a monster.
Deleted Scene: Baboon/Cat Telepod Fusion + Fly Arm Dismemberment
While preparing to morph into a super being with his (unwilling) pregnant girlfriend, Seth Brundle tests his plan by combining a baboon and a cat through teleportation. The result is a hideous abomination that attacks the scientist, sending him into a rage. He climbs up onto the roof where he continues his metamorphosis. A fly arm emerges from his torso and Seth bites it off. The entire scene is gruesome and upsetting. Cronenberg might have removed it because it makes us lose all sympathy of the doomed scientist.
Related Article: “The Fly” Remake in the Works at Fox! Eyed for Franchise Potential!
King Kong (1933, Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack)
Official Synopsis: Actress Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) travel to the Indian Ocean to do location shoots for Denham’s new jungle picture. Along the way, the actress meets and falls for rugged First Mate John Driscoll (Bruce Cabot). Upon arriving at a mysterious island, Ann is taken hostage by natives who prepare her as a sacrifice to the enormous ape Kong who rules over their jungle. But when Ann is rescued and Kong is captured, the real trouble begins.
Deleted Scene: Spider Pit
Deemed too fantastic and a distraction from the titular Kong, director Merian C. Cooper cut what was said to be an incredible “spider pit” scene. Back then, excised scenes were routinely destroyed, but Peter Jackson (who remade King Kong in 2005) recreated this lost piece of cinematic history. You can see the results above.
The Shining (1980, Directed by Stanley Kubrick)
Official Synopsis: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.
Deleted Scene: Extended Ending
Lost to time, an extended ending of The Shining saw Danny and Wendy Torrance recuperating in a hospital. It doesn’t change anything, but it lets us know that mother and son were rescued and can, in theory, live a happy life. There’s even a hint of flirtation between Wendy and Stuart Ullman, who comes to check up on them. The Stanley Kubrick Appreciation Society created the video above, culled from surviving pictures and original script pages.
From Beyond (1986, Directed by Stuart Gordon)
Official Synopsis: Obsessive scientist Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel) successfully discovers a way to access a parallel universe of pleasure by tapping into the brain’s pineal gland. When he is seemingly killed by forces from this other dimension, his assistant, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), is accused of the murder. After psychiatrist Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton) and detective Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree) take the case, the trio risks a return to the other world in order to solve the mystery.
Deleted Scene: Multiple Moments of Extreme Gore
Stuart Gordon’s battles with the MPAA are legendary, as the envelope-pushing fear practitioner knew no bounds when it came to excessive gore. There were many scenes that had to be trimmed or removed altogether in order for From Beyond to get an R rating. The clip above is just a taste of what was omitted. There are reports of a scene in which “Tillinghast, having been transformed into some kind of icky, deformed monster, rips out a woman’s eyeball with his teeth, then begins to slurp her brains out through the hole.” Source
I Am Legend (2007, Directed by Francis Lawrence)
Official Synopsis: Robert Neville (Will Smith), a brilliant scientist, is a survivor of a man-made plague that transforms humans into bloodthirsty mutants. He wanders alone through New York City, calling out for other possible survivors, and works on finding a cure for the plague using his own immune blood. Neville knows he is badly outnumbered and the odds are against him, and all the while, the infected wait for him to make a mistake that will deliver Neville into their hands.
Deleted Scene: Alternate Ending
This would have changed everything—for the better. Part of what makes director Francis Lawrence’s decision to scrap this ending so perplexing is that it would have left I Am Legend wide opened to a franchise. Instead of killing himself in an act of frustrated resistance, Neville comes to realize that we have more in common with the “hemocytes” than anyone realized. It adds immense subtext and asks what it really means to be human. It’s also got great monster FX and a genuine emotional kick. Big missed opportunity right here.
Prometheus (2012, Directed by Ridley Scott)
Official Synopsis: The discovery of a clue to mankind’s origins on Earth leads a team of explorers to the darkest parts of the universe. Two brilliant young scientists lead the expedition. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) hopes that they will meet a race of benevolent, godlike beings who will in some way verify her religious beliefs, while Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) is out to debunk any spiritual notions. However, neither the scientists nor their shipmates are prepared for the unimaginable terrors that await them.
Deleted Scene: Extended Engineer Suicide Ritual
While most of the opening scene of Prometheus was left intact, we lost moments that revealed the Engineer’s “suicide” was actual a ritualistic act, attended to by other members of his species. It adds a reverence to the process and offers insight into the Engineers’ motivations.
Deleted Scene: Human/Xenomorph Mutation
The original scene where an infected Fifield returns to the ship was more violent, intense, and revealing than what made it to the screen. It seems to suggest that the explorer is actually becoming a Xenomorph hybrid, a concept sure to be elaborated on when Ridley Scott’s Alien-prequel/Prometheus-sequel, Alien: Covenant, invades US Theaters on May 19th.
Related Article: Ridley Scott Now Saying He Wants to Make 6 More “Alien” Movies
Army of Darkness (1992, Sam Raimi)
Official Synopsis: 3rd Evil Dead movie. Ash (Bruce Campbell) finds himself trapped in medieval times. He must quest for the Necronomicon, a book of evil which can return him to his time. Unfortunately, he releases the evil trapped inside the book and unleashes an army of the dead.
Deleted Scene: Alternate Ending
In the original ending of Army of Darkness, Ash never made it back to S Mart. Instead, he accidently overdoses on sleep-drops and wakes up in an apocalyptic future where mankind may actually be extinct. This ending was certainly more in keeping with the darker tone of the first two Evil Dead films, but it would have totally screwed the timeline/continuity for Ash vs Evil Dead.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, Directed by Wes Craven)
Official Synopsis: In Wes Craven’s classic slasher film, several Midwestern teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a disfigured midnight mangler who preys on the teenagers in their dreams — which, in turn, kills them in reality. After investigating the phenomenon, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) begins to suspect that a dark secret kept by her and her friends’ parents may be the key to unraveling the mystery, but can Nancy and her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) solve the puzzle before it’s too late?
Deleted Scene: Extended History of Freddy Krueger
In the scene where Nancy’s mother tells her the truth about Freddy Krueger, it was originally revealed that the Springwood Slasher actually killed one of Nancy’s siblings—that she isn’t an only child like she always thought. It’s strange that this detail was cut, as it wouldn’t have added any significant length to A Nightmare on Elm Street and it would have given Nancy additional motivation for wanting to kick Krueger’s ass: He killed her boyfriend and her sister!
The Devil’s Rejects (2005, Directed by Rob Zombie)
Official Synopsis: After a raid on the rural home of the psychopathic Firefly family, two members of the clan, Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), manage to flee the scene. Heading to a remote desert motel, the killers reunite with Baby’s father, Capt. Spaulding (Sid Haig), who is equally demented and intent on maintaining their murder spree. While the trio continues to torment and kill various victims, the vengeful Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) slowly closes in on them.
Deleted Scene: Dr. Satan Murders a Nurse
Damn the MPAA! This deleted scene from The Devil’s Rejects is Rob Zombie at his best. We see the nurse’s entire demise, from unsuspecting smile all the way through to her spasmodic death throes. Everything about it is brilliant: The editing, the acting, the arresting gore FX including severed arterial spray, the soundscape—everything.
The Thing (1982, Directed by John Carpenter)
Official Synopsis: In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at a sled dog. When they take in the dog, it brutally attacks both human beings and canines in the camp and they discover that the beast can assume the shape of its victims. A resourceful helicopter pilot (Kurt Russell) and the camp doctor (Richard Dysart) lead the camp crew in a desperate, gory battle against the vicious creature before it picks them all off, one by one.
Deleted Scene: Extended Ending
In the extended ending of The Thing, we see an infected dog running away as the research camp smolders in the distance. It’s a moment that brings the film full circle and leaves the audience wondering if the nefarious alien will continue to be an existential threat to humanity. It certainly wouldn’t have hurt the film to include this scene, but there’s enough ambiguity in The Thing’s theatrical ending that it wasn’t totally necessary.