Death Becomes Her is an 1992 Black Comedy, directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by David Koepp and Martin Donovan, and starring Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis, and Meryl Streep. The film focuses on a pair of rivals (Hawn and Streep) who drink a magic potion that promises eternal youth, but when they physically die, become walking, talking corpses.
The film received an Mixed Reception but was a Box Office smash. It also won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
The movie went through several rewrites and after a Preview had several scenes including the original Ending deleted.
Madeline Ashton an actress (Streep) and Helen Sharp an Writer (Hawn) are rivals that pretend to be friends. After Madeline steals Helen's fiancée Plastic Surgeon Dr. Ernest Menville, Helen mentally snaps and plans revenge.
Years later both take a potion made by Lisle Von Rhoman that restores their youth and beauty, but the potion has negative side effects, they can never tell anyone, they can only enjoy their youth for 10 years and after paying Else and drinking the potion both are warned that they must be careful as they will now live forever. However both end up finding out the last negative side effect when both end up in situations they should of died and that both are still alive but now physically dead.
Thankfully Ernest's reconstitution skills helps them, but he having witnessed them asks that they never contract him afterwards and he will forget their secret. But they realise that they will only look human for so long before the paint goes so they plan to get Lisle to make him drink the potion.
But just as Lisle is about to convince him to take the potion, Ernest seeing what has happened to Madeline and Helen decides that he can't do it but runs away before he could be silenced. When he is nearly forced to drink the potion when about to fall Madeline and Helen accident expose the reason, he drops it and falls only to be saved crashing the roof of the Swimming Pool and he escapes.
After Ernest escapes Lisle disowns Madeline and Helen, they end up realising that they are now forced to spent forever fixing themselves. Years later the two are Ernest's Funeral where they find out he lived his life to the full and happy with a new wife and children. However as Helen wipes her eye, her paint is ruining and they leave the church looking for a lost can of Spray Paint however during the argument on the steps Helen steps on the can and about to fall takes Madeline with her and they up breaking into pieces.
Script Drafts/ Unused Ideas
The first draft for Death Becomes Her was part of a Movie Version of Tales From The Crypt, but the planned movie fell through and Death Becomes Her was rewritten to be a feature film.
While these Drafts have never been shown there is plenty of descriptions of what the movie could of had:
- Scenes of Madeline and Helen at College, where Helen is envious of the luck Madeline had with men.
- Madeline's lover was meant to Spanish, she visits him while Ernest was at work and that is why she is dressed in the black leotard so to win him back.
- The Potion was going to look Grey almost like Mercury in colour and sticky in texture.
- When Madeline and Helen after their big fight asks Ernest for him to rebuilt them, they weren't meant to be seen and instead 2 misshaped shadows were meant to be cast.
- Lisle was going to years older her 1920's Bob and Art Deco style was because she was from Ancient Egypt and may have been Cleopatra.
- There was a extended scene in the morgue where Ernest before finding Madeline found a dead Priest, that is why there was those creepy nuns in the film (this scene is questionable if it was shot or not as no stills exist to prove the scene's existence.
- Still living Celebrities were meant to be at the party.
- Lisle was to admit that she offered the potion to William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln and Max Factor but they refused and thus died, the people that did take the potion was the cream of Hollywood all selfish and thus she asks for money.
- Ernest was meant die from the fall at the climax and the ending was to be his funeral.
- One Ending has Madeline and Helen stealing a car and driving after Ernest but he escapes and they drove over a cliff and the explosion left them as charred, smouldering skeletons but still alive.
Scenes Cut During Previews:
- When Madeline comes to Helen's Book launch her agent is there with a younger woman and she verifies that it's Madeline her reaction is "I thought she was dead".
- Ernest removing Madeline from the Freezer and getting her upstairs, she complains she's sweating but Ernest reveals she's defrosting.
- After Madeline faints in the doctor's office another doctor checks her and calls the morgue. (The doctor in question is seen after when Ernest returns.)
- Lisle speaking to the guests at the party.
Throughout the Original Cut, Ernest was meant to visit a bar and the bartender Toni was an understanding woman who heard his problems about Madeline. After Ernest was to escape in the original cut he still had the potion on him, Lisle warns Madeline and Helen that if they want to stay in the group they need to find him. Ernest goes to the bar and explains to Toni what happened as he fears his life is at stake. At that moment the bum on the stool dies of an Heart Attack, knowing that this man has nobody Ernest and Toni have a plan, she calls the police and tells them that the man is Ernest, as he has no visual ID the police need a next of kin and at that moment Madeline and Helen appear and they have to identify the corpse. However before they see the face Toni gives them the potion which they take as prove, they leave and clearly will have him buried soon as. Toni goes to her car and Ernest is there and they declare their love. Years past, in an Swiss resort Madeline and Helen look fine (either Lisle gave them a second potion or contacts to keep the work up) but they are bored 'stiff', as a old couple walk passed the 2 immortals insult the couple only to not mean it. The couple was Ernest and Toni still in love and enjoying life.
While some of the cast liked this ending, the test screening audience did not so Zemeckis added the ending that was darker. Cutting this scene also meant removing Toni's scenes played by Tracy Ullman. The Ending and some the cut scenes ended up in the trailer which had the music from Tales from the Crypt in tribute of it's original concept.
While the deleted scenes that were filmed have never seen an DVD release there is campaigns online for this to happen.