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6 Movies With Far More Depressing Alternate Endings

Hollywood test audiences are always giving low ratings to movies with depressing endings, sending them back to the editing room for a little "cheering up." But it's not just the grainy independent films about forbidden romances and snooty aristocracies that get recalled. Some of Tinseltown's biggest blockbusters got a heavy dose of Paxil.

1. Army of Darkness

Sam Raimi had free reign with the final chapter of the Evil Dead trilogy until Universal became the distributor and ordered him to include a more upbeat ending. After our hero Ash defeats the Deadite Army and rescues the lovely princess from a life of undead living and hair bigger than most southern states, the sorcerer allows him to return to his own time by drinking a magic sleeping potion. Unfortunately, Ash takes too much of it and wakes up either in a post-Apocalyptic world destroyed by global war or downtown Detroit.

via videosift.com

2. First Blood

A 6-disc special edition box-set released in 2008 of the original Rambo film featured an alternate ending that could have changed the entire course of Sylvester Stallone's rise to fame, then fall from it, then rise and fall and rise again.

The original cut ended with Col. Trautman tracking down a blubbering Rambo who begs for death so he won't have to be arrested. The Colonel refuses, but Rambo thrusts the gun into his belly. The Colonel fires. Rambo dies in slow motion.

3. Clerks

The alternate ending to Kevin Smith's breakthrough film turned a lighthearted vulgar comedy into a dark tragedy of Ingmar Bergman-ish proportions. Dante begins to close up shop when one final customer walks in, whips out a gun, and shoots him point blank in the chest. The man loots the cash register and leaves Dante to bleed to death on the store's cold, unforgiving floor. Fans of the film have analyzed this new ending to its furthest end, speculating that it mirrors Dante's view of life based on his love of The Empire Strikes Back because it has a better, downer ending. Randall unplugging the store's security camera earlier in the film also implies that the killer will never be caught, furthering Dante's belief that life is meaningless and "a
series of down endings." Smith admitted that he killed off Dante in the original script because he didn't know how to end a film.

4. Little Shop of Horrors (the 1986 musical remake)

This Frank Oz classic took a complete 180-degree turn from its counterpart on the cutting room floor. In fact, the film ends on a higher note than one of Mariah Carey's hit singles. The theatrical release saw Seymour defeating the monster plant by electrocuting it and marrying his sweetheart Audrey. But in the alternate ending, Audrey dies and Seymour feeds her body to the hungry plant. Then when Seymour learns that little Audrey IIs are going global on the retail market, he realizes the plant's plan for world domination and tries to stop him, only to become plant food as well.

The plants go on sale and slowly start to take over the world to the tune of a show-stopping musical number. The plants crash through buildings, tromp down the streets of New York, and even climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty with their vines slithering over her crown and down her face. Then the plant busts through the screen in a fit of maniacal laughter, mimicking the end of the original off-Broadway show, where the plant would extend its vines into the aisles and drop from the ceiling while the head hovered over the first few rows and lunge at members of the audience as if it were hunting for food. Some of its plants even featured the dead cast members' faces as an homage to the Roger Corman film on which it was based.

The alternate ending was included as an extra on a special edition DVD release in 1998, but Warner Bros. issued a recall of all the discs when producer David Geffen objected to its release. Geffen told Entertainment Weekly that the black and white version of the footage "looked like s#*$." It became the first DVD to be recalled due to content.

5. Fatal Attraction

These days, news of alternate endings to big mainstream movies are treated with the same fervor and excitement as the release of a new Uwe Boll movie. But back in the 80s and 90s, they actually became
news. The ending to 1987's Oscar nominated Fatal Attraction had audiences screaming in their seats, as evidenced by tape recordings that director Adrian Lyne made of real audiences watching the film after its initial release. But the original script called for something less shocking. Alex Forest, played by Glenn Close, kills herself instead of trying to kill Dan Gallagher, played by Michael Douglas (and not based on my life although Alex does come close to a girl I once dated who liked knives), and sets it up to make it look as though Dan had killed her. The ending got horrible reviews from test audiences and the principal cast was reunited to film the new scarier scene. Japan was the only country that saw the original ending in
public release before a special edition released in 1992 included the old ending.

6. Pineapple Express

Seth Rogen's stoner shoot-em-up ended on a "high" note (yes, I get paid to write jokes for a living) with the principal characters in an all-night diner appreciating being alive after their long ordeal. This supposed alternate ending leaked by Empire Magazine shortly before the film's DVD release sparks a wave of debate on the Internet over whether the footage was meant to be the film's actual ending or just a jokey DVD Easter egg.

Danny Gallagher is a freelance writer, humorist, reporter and movie spoiler living in Texas. He can be found on the web at dannygallagher.net and on Twitter at twitter.com/thisisdannyg.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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iStock

Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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