There are many reasons why some movies never get released, even despite all the right ingredients like a great script, a star-studded cast and talented directors and producers. Enter the financiers, and it gets held up in court…for years. Sometimes creative differences between writers, producers and directors cause a film to sit on the shelf for decades until it’s a go, or worse, it’s permanently halted and the movie never sees the light of day. There are even far worse tragedies, such as an actor dying in the middle of production. Here are ten controversial films, that have never been formally released. Most of them remain a mystery to audiences, but if you can keep a secret, several are available on You Tube, some are either in clips, or some are even in their entirety.
10. The Fantastic Four (1994)
While it sounds like the plot of a movie in itself, The Fantastic Four was made with no intention of ever being released, unbeknownst to the cast and crew. The film maker’s contract specified that the movie needed to begin production by a specific date, or the rights would revert back to Marvel, along with a $5 million fee. To save cash, producers hired B-Movie King, Roger Corman to make The Fantastic Four at a fantastically low price of $1.5 million. While the movie was never officially released, it is available in its entirety on You Tube, if you really want to see it and laugh at early low-budget CGI. The making of this film was so fascinating that a documentary called, Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four, will be released in 2016. Hopefully…
9. The Day The Clown Cried (1972)
The Day The Clown Cried, starring Jerry Lewis, is about a clown who is forced by the Nazi regime, to lead Jewish concentration camp children to the gas chambers during the Holocaust. The film itself is locked in a vault and few people have actually seen it. While a behind the scenes clip turned up on You Tube a few years ago, no one knows the exact reason why it has never been released. Although, there are several rumored possibilities, including loss of financing to finish production. Some light onto this was shed by actor Harry Shearer, in a 2011 interview with Howard Stern. Over twenty years ago, Shearer saw the film and revealed it was among other things, creepy and not funny. How bad this movie really is remains a great mystery of Hollywood. If you are truly intrigued, the script is available online, as is a clip and Shearer’s Stern interview.
8. Glitterati (2004)
One of the most infamous scenes in the 2002 Bret Easton Ellis film, The Rules of Attraction, is a four-minute long montage of the character Victor Ward, played by Kip Pardue that was shot in various locations throughout Europe. This montage was created from seventy tapes of footage. These tapes were then edited into a film called Glitterati, which is basically Kip Pardue cavorting around Europe, staying in character twenty-four hours a day and seducing women. It was entirely improvised and with the exception of Pardue, no one in the film is actually a professional actor. While it has been screened several times, reportedly due to issues with the music rights, it will likely never have a formal release.
7. Something’s Got To Give (1962)
Something’s Got To Give was a remake of the 1940 film, My Favorite Wife starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. The filming of this movie was disastrous, and Monroe’s antics caused the production to become $1 million over budget. Then Fox fired her, but Martin refused to continue without Monroe and she was subsequently re-hired. But before production could resume, Monroe was found dead. To recoup the loss, Fox kept the sets and re-tooled it a year later as, Move Over Darling with Doris Day and James Garner. In 2001, a thirty-seven minute segment made from the original film was released, as part of the documentary, Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days.
Political satire, Nailed is a David O. Russell (The Fighter and American Hustle) film, starring Jessica Biel, about a waitress who gets a nail lodged in her head and the hilarity that ensues. It co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal, James Brolin and James Marsden. So, how could a movie by one of the most popular directors today, starring several big names, not be released? Shot in 2008, Biel and Gyllenhaal were forced to walk off the set, due to SAG rules. There are rumors that the pivotal scene, where the nail hits Biel’s head, was never shot. In 2010, Russell quit the project due to an argument with the financier of the film. A rough cut was edited together, but didn’t test well and it’s likely this film will never hit theaters.
5. My Best Friend’s Birthday
My Best Friend’s Birthday is a comedic short, written by Craig Hamann and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The production for this project began in 1984, and was shot on 16mm film over four years, on a minuscule $5000 budget. The script was eighty pages long and the film was approximately seventy minutes in legnth. But you’ll never see the film in its entirety because some of the negatives were destroyed in a fire. However, thirty-six minutes remain, which are available on You Tube. The film later became the basis for the movie, True Romance.
4. Song of The South (1946)
Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah! Zipp-A-Dee-Racist! Disney’s Song of South, which is based on Uncle Remus’ stories by Joel Chandler Harris, will never be released from the infamous vault because it depicts racist stereotypes of black people.The post Civil War tale was the first Disney movie to successfully combine both, live action and animation. James Baskett, who plays Uncle Remus, won an Honorary Oscar for his performance and “Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah” won best song. The film was controversial when it opened and remains tabu to this day. While Americans will probably never see it, the movie has been released on DVD and VHS internationally. If you are a die-hard Disney fan, there are some rare bootlegs available, and clips on You Tube and in several official Disney compilation films.
3. Hippie Hippie Shake
Hippie hippie nope. Hippie Hippie Shake, which stars Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy, and Chris O’Dowd, about counter-culturalist Richard Neville’s misadventures in 1960’s London, is a movie you will never get to see. Strangely, the film wasn’t shelved because it was entirely bad. Some advanced reviews of the film were largely positive, declaring it fun and an interesting peek into that time in history. So what happened? Shot in 2007, it was riddled with post production disagreements between the writer and director. Universal reportedly wrote off the film, in an attempt to offset the $100 million loss, and the insurers required the original camera negative of the film be destroyed.
2. Dark Blood (2012)
When River Phoenix died on October 31, 1993, he was approximately 80% finished shooting George Sluzier’s Dark Blood, which co-starred Judy Davis and Jonathan Price. At the time, the production and insurance companies decided that the movie could not be completed and the film was abandoned. Sluzier held onto the footage and announced in 2011, he was attempting to complete the film on his own. He reportedly asked Joaquin Phoenix to dub River’s voice, but he declined. The film premiered in 2012, at the Netherlands Film Festival, with Sluzier himself narrating the gaps in the story. Having seen the movie myself, I can say it’s visually striking and probably as complete as an incomplete film can feel. But who knows what would have happened had Phoenix lived and completed the project?
1. Black Water Transit (2009)
You would think that a movie from Tony Kaye, who is the director of American History X, starring Laurence Fishburne, Brittany Snow, Aisha Tyler and Stephen Dorff, would make it to the theaters, or at the very least straight to DVD. But, this isn’t the case with Black Water Transit, which was shot in 2007, in New Orleans. While it was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, the release has unfortunately been held up in court, ever since legal issues with the film’s financiers arose. As of today, the ultimate fate of Black Water Transit is completely unknown.