These films have been shot, edited and are ready for release, but for one reason or another they’re gathering dust on a shelf.
Many films never make it past the pre-production stage. Whether it’s because funding isn’t secured or mysterious delays occur, some films are simply destined to be withheld from the public. Most of the time it’s because of the low budget, but every now and then even a good production with a big budget and an incredible cast never gets released.
This is often a disappointment because even though the film is fully completed, fans will almost certainly never have the opportunity to see it.
Before Leonardo DiCaprio won his legendary first Oscar, he was part of a group of Hollywood bros dubbed the “Pussy Posse” in an infamous New York Magazine article. The group, which also included other young male stars such as Tobey Maguire and Kevin Connelly, earned a reputation as womanizers, thugs, and general “bad boys.”
While these traits have largely been forgotten, an independent black-and-white film called Don’s Plum documented some of the group’s unsavory characteristics. The film itself is a largely improvised adventure that shows Dicaprio and the gang in a very negative light. With their reputations on the line, DiCaprio and Maguire enlisted high-profile lawyers and filed a lawsuit that ultimately prevented the film from being released in the United States and Canada. DiCaprio and Maguire claim they agreed to star in the film as a favor to a friend, but when they saw the film cut, they claimed they were cheated.
The Day the Clown Cried
The Day the Clown Cried is a 1972 film starring Jerry Lewis as a clown in a World War II German internment camp II. Jerry Lewis, who was known for his comedies, was hesitant to take on the role of the clown, but agreed to shoot and direct the film. He felt that he’d be doing something useful by showing the horrors of the Holocaust.
The film had financing problems from the beginning, as Lewis had to raise much of the money for the film out of his own pocket. The problems that ultimately prevented the film from ever being released arose when the film’s writer, Joan O’Brien, disagreed with the changes Lewis made to the script, particularly his decision to make the clown more sympathetic, rather than cowardly and selfish as she portrayed him.
Tony Kaye directed Black Water Transit, but his erratic behavior isn’t why moviegoers never heard of him. Black Water Transit, an adaptation of Carsten Stroud’s novel of the same name, tells the story of a shipping manager who becomes involved in the investigation of an illegal arms dealer after Hurricane Katrina. With a cast that includes Laurence Fishburne and Karl Urban, the film has been described as a Die Hard thriller.
Black Water Transit reportedly screened at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Unfortunately, a seemingly endless stream of litigation has kept the film off the big screen. As lawsuits continue to be filed, it’s unlikely that viewers will get to see this film anytime soon.
Hippie Hippie Shake
Based on the memoirs of Australian publisher Richard Neville, Hippie Hippie Shake is a period drama focusing on the 1960s counterculture. Cillian Murphy plays Neville and Sienna Miller plays his girlfriend Louise Ferrier, who is on trial for publishing an “obscene” issue of her magazine Oz.
Although screenings brought in mostly positive reviews, the film has still not been released after nearly a decade. The exact reason why the film was shelved is disputed. Some of the real-life people depicted in the film have expressed concerns.
Dark Blood by George Sluizer, the famous director of The Vanishing, is the story of a young man known only as “the boy who believes the end of the world is near.” The boy lives in self-imposed exile in the desert after his wife dies of radiation poisoning from nearby nuclear weapons testing.
Unfortunately, River Phoenix, who plays the title role, died suddenly during filming, leaving the fate of the film in limbo. Sluizer estimated that about 80% of the film had been completed before Phoenix’s death, and was eager to finish it. He even approached River’s younger brother Joaquin to complete the film, a request that the Phoenix family refused.
Realms of the Deep
After the huge success of James Cameron’s Avatar, China tried to capitalize on sci-fi humanoids fighting each other, and Empires of the Deep was born. This is a fantasy epic that pits mermaids against giant crocodiles and ends in a cross-species romance with Spartan warriors, according to the trailer.
Starring former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, Empires of the Deep had a budget of $130 million and went through about 40 projects with eight different screenwriters over a five-year period. The budget was the largest in the history of Chinese cinema, but the production was beset by difficulties from the beginning. Various directors began work on the film only to be replaced soon after, the cast was made up of mostly unknown actors, and the film’s effects were marred by delays in playback.
Eventually, industry critics were shown a trailer that was met with harsh criticism. Touted as a competitor for Hollywood releases, the film looked bad. By no means a $130 million epic.
The Brave was the first and only film directed by Johnny Depp. It was the film adaptation of Gregory MacDonald’s novel of the same name, about a Native American man named Raphael and his family living in extreme poverty. Raphael is devastated because he is unable to support his family. Depressed and because he sees no other option, he agrees to star in a film for a large sum of money. The gloomy film sheds light on Raphael’s relationships in the last week of his life.
With a truly inspired performance by screen legend Marlon Brando and a truly heavy subject matter, The Brave received mixed reviews at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. American critics, in particular, slated the film and attacked Depp because his name appeared everywhere, as star, writer and director. Disgusted by the hostility of the American press, Depp banned the film’s release in the United States, insinuating that the American press was only putting him on the spot because of his rise.
My Best Friend’s Birthday
Today, Quentin Tarantino is best known for his ultra-violent black comedies. But before Tarantino received awards and accolades around the world, he worked in a small video store in California and took acting classes in hopes of one day becoming an actor.
Tarantino’s friend and colleague had written a short screenplay about a man who tries to do something nice for his friend for his birthday and whose efforts backfire in a comical way. Tarantino helped flesh out the script into a feature film, and with $5,000, the two set out to produce the film. With the help of friends from his acting class and other colleagues from the video store, Tarantino wrote, directed and starred in the film My Best Friend’s Birthday.
The original version of the film was about 70 minutes long. However, a fire in the development lab destroyed about half of the footage. The surviving film was made into a 36-minute short that was shown at film festivals but was never commercially available. It is more of a curiosity, but the good news is that it is easy to find on the Internet.
All American Massacre
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a highly acclaimed horror film. Unfortunately, each subsequent film in the series has only served to alienate fans of the original. With tonally varying sequels, remakes, prequels, and reimaginings, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies have one of the most confusing timelines in horror movie history.
In 1998, the son of franchise creator Tobe Hooper, William Hooper, set out to make a short film that explored the past of everyone’s favorite cannibal family. The short was turned into a 60-minute feature that featured Bill Moseley reprising his role as Chop Top from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
The story was a prequel/sequel that featured Chop Top recalling his family’s penchant for blood, in while orchestrating one last massacre. The entire movie was supposedly shot and a trailer even hit the internet about 15 years ago. Since then, there has been little news about the project. A Kickstarter campaign was launched a few years ago to raise funding for post-production, but fell short. Judging by the quality of the trailer, maybe it’s a good thing this movie stays buried.
A documentary film chronicling the Rolling Stones’ 1972 US tour in support of their Exile on Main Street album, Cocksucker Blues has never been released – and almost certainly never will be. The tour was highly anticipated as it was the first time the Stones had visited the United States since the free Altamont concert in 1969, where a fan was stabbed and beaten to death by the Hells Angels.
The documentary was shot observationally. Numerous cameras were available backstage for anyone to pick up and start filming. This allowed the cameras to capture backstage parties, drug use and other examples of debauchery. Fearing that the film would tarnish their reputation, the Rolling Stones took the film to court because they did not want it to be released publicly.