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12 Movies Steven Spielberg Almost Made

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With 28 feature films under his belt, Steven Spielberg is one of the most prolific directors working in Hollywood today. While he's directed more than his fair share of classic films, there are still a few blockbusters that Spielberg could have made throughout his career but didn't for various reasons. Here are 12 movies the Academy Award-winning director almost made.

1. Interstellar

In 2006, Steven Spielberg was attached to direct Interstellar for Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Entertainment. He loved the eight-page story treatment that featured wormholes and time travel from film producer Lynda Obst and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. Screenwriter Jonathan Nolan signed on to write the project in 2007, but Spielberg officially left the project when DreamWorks moved from Paramount to Walt Disney Pictures in 2009, and Nolan's brother Christopher stepped in to direct.

2. American Sniper

After the success of Lincoln in 2012, Steven Spielberg lined up an adaptation of American Sniper, a biopic about the military life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was considered "the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History," as his next project. Bradley Cooper bought the film rights to the autobiography with plans to co-produce and star. Spielberg was brought on to direct and produce for Warner Bros. Pictures and DreamWorks, but the director and movie studio dropped out of the project when his vision didn't line up with Warner Bros.' planned budget. Instead, Clint Eastwood stepped in to direct.

3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Steven Spielberg optioned The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 1991. He wanted Tom Cruise to play the lead role, but he dropped out to direct Jurassic Park and Schindler's List instead. If he had made The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, it would've been the first time Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise worked together. However, the pair found each other again for Minority Report in 2002 and War of the Worlds in 2005.

"Tom and I had been friends for many, many years," he told Entertainment Weekly. "We had considered working together. Benjamin Button, we had talked about maybe doing together, long before Minority Report. But nothing quite gelled for either of us."

In 2008, David Fincher took on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with Brad Pitt in the titular role and longtime Spielberg collaborators Kathleen Kennedy (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) and Frank Marshall (Raiders of the Lost Ark) as producers.

4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

In 2000, then-Warner Bros. CEO Alan Horn offered Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to Steven Spielberg after the studio bought the film rights to the widely popular young adult book series. Spielberg had a few ideas of what he wanted do with a Harry Potter movie, including combining the first two books into one film and making it computer animated with Haley Joel Osment as Harry Potter. Alas, Warner Bros. and J. K. Rowling were deeply opposed to Spielberg's pitches.

"I just felt that I wasn't ready to make an all-kids movie and my kids thought I was crazy,” Spielberg told the BBC. “And the books were by that time popular, so when I dropped out, I knew it was going to be a phenomenon. But, you know I don't make movies because they're gonna to be phenomenons. I make movies because they have to touch me in a way that really commits me to a year, two years, three years of work."

He decided to make A.I. Artificial Intelligence instead, while Warner Bros. hired Chris Columbus to direct Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets.

5. Cape Fear

Before Martin Scorsese was brought on to direct, Steven Spielberg was attached to helm the 1991 remake of Cape Fear. Spielberg left the project to focus on Jurassic Park and Schindler's List, but remained one of its producers with Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte already signed on to star.

6. The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3

After the success of The Sugarland Express in 1974, Spielberg was interested in directing the New York City subway heist film The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 for United Artists. Studio executive David Picker recognized that the young director had talent but thought the movie would be better suited for director Joseph Sargent, with Spielberg going on to make Jaws instead.

7. Big Fish

In 2000, Steven Spielberg was briefly attached to direct Big Fish. He reportedly wanted Jack Nicholson in the role of Edward Bloom, a retired businessman with a knack for spinning tall tales. Spielberg dropped out of the project to complete Minority Report and start production on Catch Me If You Can instead, while Tim Burton was brought in to direct Big Fish for Columbia Pictures. Albert Finney was cast to play older Edward Bloom, while Ewan McGregor played the younger version.

8. Memoirs of a Geisha

Steven Spielberg wanted to bring Memoirs of a Geisha to the big screen since the book was first published in 1997. He bought the film rights with intentions of directing it, but the director opted to take on A.I. Artificial Intelligence instead. However, Spielberg remained one of the film's producers, as Rob Marshall directed the film adaptation in 2005.

9. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Steven Spielberg agreed to direct The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Jim Carrey in the titular role in 2003. It would have been a co-production between Paramount and DreamWorks, but the director dropped out of the project in 2004 when a script couldn't come together in time. He opted to work on War of the Worlds and Munich instead, while Jim Carrey also dropped out to star in Fun with Dick and Jane.

Ben Stiller signed on to star and direct The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in 2011 and it was released two years later.

10. Rain Man

According to screenwriter Ronald Bass, Steven Spielberg began working with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise on Rain Man, but later forfeited his directing duties to make Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Barry Levinson was brought on to direct, and it won four Academy Awards in 1988, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Dustin Hoffman.

11. White Lightning

In 1973, Steven Spielberg expressed interest in directing Burt Reynolds in the action film White Lightning for United Artists. He worked on it for a few months before taking on The Sugarland Express because he felt he wasn't the right director for it.

"The one thing that came to me that I almost made was White Lightning, the Burt Reynolds picture," Steven Spielberg told Film Comment in 1978. "I spent two-and-a-half months on the film, met Burt once, found most of the locations and began to cast the movie, until I realized it wasn’t something that I wanted to do for a first film. I didn’t want to start my career as a hard-hat, journeyman director. I wanted to do something that was a little more personal."

12. E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears

During the success of its first theatrical run during the summer of 1982, Steven Spielberg considered making a sequel to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial called E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears. He co-wrote a nine-page story treatment with screenwriter Melissa Mathison that followed evil aliens coming to Earth to kidnap Elliott and his friends, only to have E.T. come back to save the day. Smartly, Spielberg never made E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears because he felt that it "would do nothing but rob the original of its virginity."

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Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

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15 Must-See Holiday Horror Movies
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Families often use the holidays as an excuse to indulge in repeat viewings of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Elf. But for a certain section of the population, the yuletide is all about horror. Although it didn’t truly emerge until the mid-1970s, “holiday horror” is a thriving subgenre that often combines comedy to tell stories of demented Saint Nicks and lethal gingerbread men. If you’ve never seen Santa slash someone, here are 15 movies to get you started.

1. THANKSKILLING (2009)

Most holiday horror movies concern Christmas, so ThanksKilling is a bit of an anomaly. Another reason it’s an anomaly? It opens in 1621, with an axe-wielding turkey murdering a topless pilgrim woman. The movie continues on to the present-day, where a group of college friends are terrorized by that same demon bird during Thanksgiving break. It’s pretty schlocky, but if Turkey Day-themed terror is your bag, make sure to check out the sequel: ThanksKilling 3. (No one really knows what happened to ThanksKilling 2.)

2. BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)

Fittingly, the same man who brought us A Christmas Story also brought us its twisted cousin. Before Bob Clark co-wrote and directed the 1983 saga of Ralphie Parker, he helmed Black Christmas. It concerns a group of sorority sisters who are systematically picked off by a man who keeps making threatening phone calls to their house. Oh, and it all happens during the holidays. Black Christmas is often considered the godfather of holiday horror, but it was also pretty early on the slasher scene, too. It opened the same year as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and beat Halloween by a full four years.

3. SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

This movie isn’t about Santa Claus himself going berserk and slaughtering a bunch of people. But it is about a troubled teen who does just that in a Santa suit. Billy Chapman starts Silent Night, Deadly Night as a happy little kid, only to witness a man dressed as St. Nick murder his parents in cold blood. Years later, after he has grown up and gotten a job at a toy store, he conducts a killing spree in his own red-and-white suit. The PTA and plenty of critics condemned the film for demonizing a kiddie icon, but it turned into a bona fide franchise with four sequels and a 2012 remake.

4. RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE (2010)

This Finnish flick dismantles Santa lore in truly bizarre fashion, and it’s not easy to explain in a quick plot summary. But Rare Exports involves a small community living at the base of Korvatunturi mountain, a major excavation project, a bunch of dead reindeer, and a creepy old naked dude who may or may not be Santa Claus. Thanks to its snowy backdrop, the movie scored some comparisons to The Thing, but the hero here isn’t some Kurt Russell clone with equally feathered hair. It’s a bunch of earnest kids and their skeptical dads, who all want to survive the holidays in one piece.

5. TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980)

To All a Goodnight follows a by-now familiar recipe: Add a bunch of young women to one psycho dressed as Santa Claus and you get a healthy dose of murder and this 1980 slasher flick. Only this one takes place at a finishing school. So it’s fancier.

6. KRAMPUS (2015)

Although many Americans are blissfully unaware of him, Krampus has terrorized German-speaking kids for centuries. According to folklore, he’s a yuletide demon who punishes naughty children. (He’s also part-goat.) That’s some solid horror movie material, so naturally Krampus earned his own feature film. In the movie, he’s summoned because a large suburban family loses its Christmas cheer. That family has an Austrian grandma who had encounters with Krampus as a kid, so he returns to punish her descendants. He also animates one truly awful Jack-in-the-Box.

7. THE GINGERDEAD MAN (2005)

“Eat me, you punk b*tch!” That’s one of the many corny catchphrases spouted by the Gingerdead Man, an evil cookie possessed by the spirit of a convicted killer (played by Gary Busey). The lesson here, obviously, is to never bake.

8. JACK FROST (1997)

No, this isn’t the Michael Keaton snowman movie. It’s actually a holiday horror movie that beat that family film by a year. In this version, Jack Frost is a serial killer on death row who escapes prison and then, through a freak accident, becomes a snowman. He embarks on a murder spree that’s often played for laughs—for instance, the cops threaten him with hairdryers. But the comedy is pretty questionable in the infamous, and quite controversial, Shannon Elizabeth shower scene.

9. ELVES (1989)

Based on the tagline—“They’re not working for Santa anymore”—you’d assume this is your standard evil elves movie. But Elves weaves Nazis, bathtub electrocutions, and a solitary, super grotesque elf into its utterly absurd plot. Watch at your own risk.

10. SINT (2010)

The Dutch have their own take on Santa, and his name is Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas travels to the Netherlands via steamship each year with his racist sidekick Zwarte Piet. But otherwise, he’s pretty similar to Santa. And if Santa can be evil, so can Sinterklaas. According to the backstory in Sint (or Saint), the townspeople burned their malevolent bishop alive on December 5, 1492. But Sinterklaas returns from the grave on that date whenever there’s a full moon to continue dropping bodies. In keeping with his olden origins, he rides around on a white horse wielding a golden staff … that he can use to murder you.

11. SANTA’S SLAY (2005)

Ever wonder where Santa came from? This horror-comedy claims he comes from the worst possible person: Satan. The devil’s kid lost a bet many years ago and had to pretend to be a jolly gift-giver. But now the terms of the bet are up and he’s out to act like a true demon. That includes killing Fran Drescher and James Caan, obviously.

12. ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE (2015)

Another Santa slasher is on the loose in All Through the House, but the big mystery here is who it is. This villain dons a mask during his/her streak through suburbia—and, as the genre dictates, offs a bunch of promiscuous young couples along the way. The riddle is all tied up in the disappearance of a little girl, who vanished several years earlier.

13. CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980)

Several years before Silent Night, Deadly Night garnered protests for its anti-Kringle stance, Christmas Evil put a radicalized Santa at the center of its story. The movie’s protagonist, Harry Stadling, first starts to get weird thoughts in his head as a kid when he sees “Santa” (really his dad in the costume) groping his mom. Then, he becomes unhealthily obsessed with the holiday season, deludes himself into thinking he’s Santa, and goes on a rampage. The movie is mostly notable for its superfan John Waters, who lent commentary to the DVD and gave Christmas Evil some serious cult cred.

14. SANTA CLAWS (1996)

If you thought this was the holiday version of Pet Sematary, guess again. The culprit here isn’t a demon cat in a Santa hat, but a creepy next-door neighbor. Santa Claws stars B-movie icon Debbie Rochon as Raven Quinn, an actress going through a divorce right in the middle of the holidays. She needs some help caring for her two girls, so she seeks out Wayne, her neighbor who has an obsessive crush on her. He eventually snaps and dresses up as Santa Claus in a ski mask. Mayhem ensues.

15. NEW YEAR’S EVIL (1980)

Because the holidays aren’t over until everyone’s sung “Auld Lang Syne,” we can’t count out New Year’s Eve horror. In New Year’s Evil, lady rocker Blaze is hosting a live NYE show. Everything is going well, until a man calls in promising to kill at midnight. The cops write it off as a prank call, but soon, Blaze’s friends start dropping like flies. Just to tie it all together, the mysterious murderer refers to himself as … “EVIL.”

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