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Final Destination, the horror franchise that positions the unstoppable force of Death as its serial killer, has been Rube Goldberg-ing teens for two decades now. It's earned plenty of fans, influenced tons of films, and become a cultural touchstone. There isn't a genre fan out there that'd hop into a tanning bed without thinking twice — all because of Final Destination. But the first film didn't always involve these elaborate set pieces leading to death. Those were an iconic creation that developed a bit through the process — and they've continued all the way into the script for the planned sixth movie in the franchise.
Speaking with Consequence of Sound, screenwriter/creator Jeffrey Reddick and franchise producer Craig Perry talked all about the origins of the series. The first film, released in March of 2000, starred Devon Sawa, Ali Later, Seann William Scott, Kerr Smith, Amanda Detmer, Kristen Cloke, and (of course) Tony Todd. Most of their characters had gruesome, memorable deaths. But they were originally supposed to have gruesome, memorable suicides. That's because Reddick's initial idea was that since Death missed them the first time around, it couldn't directly get them.
"In my original version, since death had messed up the first time, it couldn’t just kill the people," he said. "It basically exploited their biggest fears and drove them to suicide." The film, which was initially given to Hellraiser's Clive Barker to direct (he passed on it), needed to make some serious changes. That means all the self-inflicted harm needed to be given an external force.
"In my draft, Alex’s best friend Tod rigged up a noose in his garage," Reddick said. "He was a preacher’s son and stole stuff from his dad. He was calling his father on his car phone to say he was sorry. When the dad came home and opened the garage, he hung himself." Then there was Carter (he "jumps in front of a subway train and kills himself") — whose death was casued by Terri, whose ghost haunts him ("She starts puking her intestines out, which is an homage to Gates of Hell, an old Italian horror film") — and Clear, whose ending first involved her pregnancy.
“The finale was Clear going back to the crash site and reliving the plane crash," said Reddick. "She was standing on the ground, and the plane literally crashed on top of her. All her dead friends showed up around her. She had a gun, and death was basically tormenting her to kill herself. Then, she realizes she’s pregnant, so death couldn’t get her, because there was an innocent life inside of her." But it's a horror movie, so something has to go wrong. Even with innocence inside her...well, it's got to come out some time.
“The original ending was Clear in the delivery room having the baby," the writer explained. "You think it’s all good, but all the lights go out. A dark figure comes into the delivery room, and you realize that now the baby’s been born, she’s a goner. Alex is the only one left.” There were also a few characters in the first script that were cut completely, like a pair of sisters that became Todd and his brother. When writers James Wong and Glen Morgan were brought on, they introduced the complicated machines and set-ups that Death would utilize to settle its scores, and the rest is history.
And it's not done yet.
Perry recently teased that a sixth film is in the works, a film set "in the world of first responders: EMTs, firemen, and police," the producer told Digital Spy. In this interview, Perry got a little more specific about the coming set pieces planned in the script. "Let’s just say: In the current draft of Final Destination 6, you’ll never go through a revolving door the same way again … ever," the series producer said. "I challenge you, the next time you go through a revolving door, to run right through. You don’t. Everybody stops and goes one, two, three, and then steps in. It’s human nature. You’re a smart guy. You can figure out all the fun we had with a revolving door."
The sixth Final Destination does not yet have a production timeline.