Spider-Man 3: "The Venom Corpse" Deleted Scenes (Unreviewed)
(This is my first time doing anything like this on Fandom so please forgive me if I make a mistake or two. Let me know btw if I did.) - PrincevonTwix
The early 2000s were a simpler and more magical time, granted you grew up during that era. I can’t say that it was the best time period but it certainly beats the experience of watching campy commercials and TV shows. The media experience there was uniquely different and had its own charm to it; everything from books, games, toys, collectibles, and film. If you asked me what I especially liked during that time, it was Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Maybe it was the score for each film, the story, or the visuals, but everything about them was iconic and memorable.
And while all three films were great on their own, I think the third film was the most interesting in terms of cut-content and merchandise. It was bound to have a lot because of the convoluted story-lines there, since Sam Raimi and Avi Arad had different and conflicting plans for it. Arad wanted Venom in that film after all, even though Raimi didn’t know a lot about them and didn’t like the character much. But out of the many cut-content for Venom alone, two scenes from the film were seemingly lost in time, and it still makes me wonder what exactly happened.
Back in 2007 there was a test screening for this film a great distance away from where I lived. When the trailer was first shown at Comic-Con in 2006, it was exciting and promising. And since I was younger then (I think I was 13 years old), I especially got excited about Venom’s reveal at the end. Somehow, we were lucky enough to be selected for this screening. The world seemed to be in my favor back then; I remember how excited I was, running around with my Spider-Man shirt.
I can vouch for how the scenes that didn’t make it were basically the ones featured on DVDs as bonuses and such. Even the scene with Sandman and his daughter was shown there, although it felt very out of place. But out of all the scenes there that didn’t make the final cut, there are two that don’t appear anywhere else. One of them was a minor alternate version of the Venom reflection deleted scene, and another was an alternate take on Venom’s demise. Both of which held a truth best forgotten.
The Venom reflection scene was essentially the same, but something about Venom’s design was seriously unsettling and unnatural (more so than before).
You’ll notice in the original cut that there’s a mouthpiece for the actor, with a clear indication that they’re alive. But what I saw in the test screening was devoid of all life. Perhaps it was just how younger me exaggerated how scary it was, but I could clearly recall the posture being more stiff, more...deteriorated. The mouth was pale, lacking any circulation, the body was somewhat emaciated and the suit adhered to it like a mummy. Even though in both versions the reflection appeared in flashes, there was enough for me to make out what it was. How Venom looked there scared me, but it was more so the jumpscare at the time.
And while unnerving in hindsight, Venom’s demise near the end of the film was what really shook me. It's no surprise for early drafts of a film to make it in marketing before the finalized product, and this was no different with Spider-Man 3. If you’re unaware, Venom dies in the original film from a bomb. But in the main console game adaptations, Venom dies through impalement after fighting in mid-air. In the screening I saw, it was very much like the ending in the games; there was no twitching, no facial expression, only blood stains and a slight jerk from the body to show impact...
For a long while, I looked all over to see if there was anything mentioning these two deleted scenes and found nothing. I asked in forum posts if anyone at the very least recalled the test screening for the film; a few did but their memory was hazy, not enough to remember these scenes. However, I was able to find an excerpt in a magazine discussing the production behind Venom. In an article of Prosthetics Magazine (Issue 7, Summer 2017), Steve Johnson’s company XFX had done some work on the special effects for Venom, although they were taken off of the project during pre-production. Johnson had stated that he wanted to prove that they could do almost all or the entirety of the special effects practically, “I knew in the back of my head that they would probably cut it or replace it digitally, but my job was to say, ‘You don’t have to do that!’”
Something that bothered me was how Steve Johnson wanted to do almost all of the effects practically, and XFX's work didn't make it in the final film. But who in their right mind would use a corpse to make these scenes in particular more realistic? I know there were some films that used real human skeletons for props, and Sam Raimi had directed some horror films before, but considering that I never saw those scenes again, I can safely say that he had some limits. And they were crossed back then.
That's when the thought settled in. “How did they get a corpse for this without anyone noticing, and why? If this was approved prior before removal, who allowed this?”
What I still don’t understand is how there was no public report regarding such a scene in this film. Especially since I haven’t seen any article mentioning Spider-Man 3 being under some fire.
I don’t know how I was able to get this opportunity, but I did. After some searching, I was able to get into contact with a former employee at XFX, and arranged a meeting with them in person. For the sake of respecting their anonymity, I’ll call them “Harold.” Harold was working around the time XFX was briefly involved in Spider-Man 3, especially around the production for Venom. To make sure I didn’t hit them with the heavy questions first, I asked about the work he had done for the film in general, which obviously included Venom but also concept art for New Goblin, brief development of prototype Vulture’s wings (who was initially considered for the film), and some others. I then asked if they were aware or present during the test screening for the film in early 2007. Harold was a bit struck but informed that yes, they were. As soon as I mentioned those two deleted scenes, the room suddenly got colder, with Harold himself as stiff as ice. He was trying his best to maintain himself, swallowing away his experience.
Harold reassured me that he had no personal involvement with this, but recalled how after a night shift, they saw a couple of fellow employees carrying something in a bag into the studio. He stayed for a bit, peeping through the corners and saw the two stuffed the body within the suit. The employees then proceeded to change its posture to match that from the mirror scene in front of a green screen, and then set up pipes and dropped it there for the alternate death scene. Harold took a few photos and a short clip of this for later on. By this time, the rest of the alternate ending had already been filmed with near finished special effects, so this explained the quick implementation of this. Somehow this had gone through an approval by the crew, and the test screen of the film was sent out. After receiving similar complaints for Venom’s death feeling eerily real and off, Sam Raimi had asked who was responsible for this. Harold went out and showed Raimi the photos and video he took, and Raimi consequently took XFX off of production. Raimi had finished by saying, “Get out of my sight. This never leaves the studio, understood?” XFX also went out of their way to fire those two employees. After that, the body (along with the original costume) was simply disposed of, never seen again.
Unfortunately, Harold has no idea where the corpse originally came from, or whose it was. He had a theory which coincided with a murder a few miles away from the studio that took place before the screening. He’s unsure if those two employees were directly involved in it or not, same for Steve Johnson. He recalls stumbling upon them a few years after this incident, and the piercing glares from the two men was all Harold needed to get away. He had left XFX simply because he didn’t want to be associated with that event anymore. And I can’t blame him for that. Before he left, I asked if by chance he still had those photos and recording with him. He says they’re on a flash drive, but refuses to share them out of fear of being wrongfully accused and how deep those waters would be. I asked if anyone he knew also had a copy of the test screening, or at least those two deleted scenes. He did and said that he’ll try and get in contact with them and see if they’ll oblige.
Flash forward one week later, and I get a mail package containing a letter and a DVD set, with no return address. In the letter was a short description that read as follows:
“To whom this may concern,
My only request is that you never share this to anyone directly, to any archive website, or any social media. This test screening of Spider-Man 3 is for your eyes only. You may use this to confirm any miscellaneous details regarding this film’s past development, but never show even a single frame of this film. Especially those two scenes. Never speak of this.
I hope you have what you were looking for.”
The cover on the DVD case was the promotional poster for the film, with a sticky note on it saying “Do Not Distribute.” The DVD was blank and had only the title and sticky note’s message written on it. I inserted the DVD, closing my blinds just in case, and a menu popped up. There were two options, “Play” and “Behind the Scenes.” I decided to watch the film first; it was an odd experience to be watching something highly closeted, and with such a background to it. It was as if I was cursed that very instant, and I felt as if the walls had grown eyes and everything was staring at my soul. The camera in my phone made this worse. Every time I turned around, ghosts remained. Seeing the deleted scenes again froze me in my seat; the stiff, sickly and pale body was an image that was hard to forget. Makes me grateful that no one else saw this in theaters.
The only redeeming factor from watching it again was to see anything else but those scenes. And that brings me to the last part of this DVD, “Behind the Scenes.” I should have known better; it cleverly brought in 15 minutes of actual commentary on the CGI behind Sandman, before it was hijacked and unveiled a different “behind the scenes.” There was mostly no audio, only visuals were photos taken before the test screening of the film, as noted by the date in the bottom corner. They were blurry, but the sight of blood and open wounds needed no other confirmation. Her hand reached out for help within the dimly lit lights, her starved figure riddled with gashes. Weeping was all but a solution, for tears could never fix a head swabbed with red or stitch every marking made unto her, like the doll she was forced to be. Her screams clawed at me with desperation, followed by faint and muffled laughter; a great evil was preserved right there and then. As those cackles faded away, the commentary picked off right where it left off, blissfully unaware of the interruption it endured. I was left to process all that I had seen that afternoon, the images leaving a mark much more engraved than the Venom scenes. And that horrific audio kept gnawing at my ears for months. It made me thankful to be alive.
I will respect the messenger’s wish and am sorry to say that I can’t share any of this, for the better. I’m not sure what will happen if I do, but I don’t want to risk anything at this point. I could report this to the police, but like Harold, I fear being falsely accused of such a terrible act. For my own sake, I’ve stashed the DVD within my garage. After everything I saw there, I don’t want anyone else to lay eyes on the crime I had witnessed. It deserves to be forgotten, to be nothing but a bad dream. It's not worth bringing with me if I move houses, that'll be someone else's problem.
For anyone reading this, just disregard all of this as some asinine rumor. Don’t be stupid and instigate anything relating to this. I don’t want to feel responsible for any attacks on Raimi, Sony, XFX, or any awareness of this.
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