Cursed (lost original version of Wes Craven horror film; 2005)
(Top) Werewolf costume designed by Rick Baker for Judy Greer. (Bottom) The CGI werewolf that appeared in the released film.
Wes Craven's teen horror-comedy Cursed starred Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg as a brother and sister who, after surviving an attack by a werewolf, must find and kill the creature before they become werewolves themselves. The film opened in February of 2005 to overwhelmingly negative reviews and is widely regarded as Craven's worst. However, it began its history as an extremely different movie from what was eventually seen in theaters.
Cursed was announced in October 2002 and was planned for release the following summer. The production would reunite Craven with Scream and Scream 2 screenwriter Kevin Williamson, and acclaimed horror makeup artist Rick Baker would design the monster. Filming began in March 2003 and by early summer was around 90% complete. In this version, Ellie Hudson (Ricci), Jimmy Myers (Eisenberg), and Vince Winston (Skeet Ulrich) are total strangers who are all attacked after their cars crash in the Hollywood Hills. In Williamson's original screenplay, the mystery centers on a rampaging serial killer who is revealed only in a twist ending to have been a werewolf.
Unhappy with the film in progress, producer Bob Weinstein shut down production until December, when shooting resumed with a brand-new script. The serial-killer storyline was changed to bring the werewolf to reveal to the forefront; Ulrich, whose character had been drastically altered in the rewrite, quit the production, requiring an additional rewrite that removed him entirely. Costar Mandy Moore was unable to return for the reshoots, and her role was recast. Previously filmed scenes featuring Illeana Douglas, Omar Epps, Corey Feldman, Scott Foley, Robert Forster, and Heather Langenkamp were also scrapped. Three weeks of reshoots, followed by another 10-day reshoot with a rewritten ending, pushed filming into mid-2004, and the release was rescheduled for that October.
By then, however, Weinstein was still unsatisfied with the film and ordered the gory effects cut down so that it could receive a PG-13 rating. Nearly all of Rick Baker's practical werewolf costumes and other special effects were all deleted and replaced with CGI.
Cursed was released by Dimension Films, a sub-label of Miramax. Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein separated from Miramax in October 2005, forming The Weinstein Company, and took the Dimension Films label with them. It was purchased by ViacomCBS in 2019 after The Weinstein Company shut down in 2018. At least one former Dimension executive is certain the uncut film still exists, although who might actually have it is unknown.
Wes Craven himself notably disliked the released version and, as of his death in 2015, he had no plans to recut or rerelease it.
- Jesse Eisenberg interview on the film's troubled production. Retrieved 23 Jan '21
- Article on the Dimension executive stating the film's original version still exists. Retrieved 23 Jan '21