Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Lost Hammer Films?

It is astounding what you discover on the web and I caveat this post with the concept that the MySpace Blog I found this on is likely indulging in a gentle hoax or simply indulging in wishful thinking – though one hopes, wishes even, it to be true. However, on the Christopher Lee Fan page is a blog entry regarding 4 lost Hammer films that where found in a vault in Bray Studios. 3 are vampire orientated. The descriptions are quoted directly from the blog.

Scourge of the Vampires:

“(1961). Right after Hammer made Brides Of Dracula, the studio realized that David Peel made an, er, "a-peeling" vampire. The studio also finally convinced Christopher Lee to return to the Dracula role. The obvious result was a film that pitted both Peel's suave nobelman vampire and Lee's Dracula against humankind. Alas, Jimmy Sangster's script tried to give both actors equal time, which pleased neither. Lee stalked out in a snit during filming, and refused to don the Dracula cape again until 1965's Dracula, Prince Of Darkness. Peel asked for more money to continue in the film solo, and he was released by the studio. What remained of the film was relegated to the vaults.”

The Revenge of Dracula

“(1959). With the international smash success of Horror Of Dracula (entitled Dracula in the United Kingdom), Hammer Studios let no moss grow under its collective feet. It immediately commissioned another Dracula film, slated to star Christopher Lee. A corporate decision was made not to bring back Peter Cushing's Van Helsing in order to put the emphasis on Dracula. Again, the busy Jimmy Sangster wrote a script, whereby Count Dracula's loyal gypsy tribesmen collect his ashes and use black magic (and the blood of several virgins) to revive him. Using his loyal gypsies as shock troops, Dracula begins to systematically wipe out the villages that he believes betrayed him. The planned scenes of horrific carnage were to be leavened by a romance between a sensitive gypsy man and a gypsy girl whose sister was one of the slain virgins. The two take after Dracula, who is finally destroyed when the spire of an ancient church topples and penetrates his black heart. This rousing production came to a screeching halt when Lee adamantly refused to play the role again. As a result, a hasty re-shuffling resulted in Brides Of Dracula in 1960, which did co-star Peter Cushing in place of Lee.”

And the ‘Monster Mash’, The Edge of Midnight

“(1969). By the end of the Sixties, Hammer's original gothic horror product was showing its age, as were its horror stars. Just as Hammer aped Universal Studio's classic monster series with its own gothic horrors, Hammer decided to give its monster series a shot in the arm with a tag-teaming of monsters, just as Universal did with its "House" movies in the late Forties. Lured back to Hammer with a promise to direct as well as script the picture, Jimmy Sangster concocted a plot in which Peter Cushing's Dr. Frankenstein and his Monster meet and battle Christopher Lee's Dracula and Hammer's Spanish werewolf (played again by Oliver Reed). In the script, Dr. Frankenstein steals Dracula's ashes to experiment on them and is driven away by the authorities. He escapes to Spain, where he hears stories of the el hombre lobo and digs up the werewolf's corpse and revives him. Of course, a battle royal results. Unfortunately, neither Cushing nor Lee nor Reed could keep a straight face during filming. After many blown takes, the project was shelved. By the way, it is not true that Hammer later planned to salvage this film by adding the talents of Rowan and Martin. The atrocity known as The Maltese Bippy cannot be laid at Hammer's doorstep.”

Unfortunately, one does question the authenticity of the post given no sources are quoted, simply that the info was found on the web – I can find no such info. Even if it were true, how much footage there could be? However, these are fantastic concepts and if anyone out there could confirm the validity of these (partial, unfinished) films to this old cynic – well I’d be grateful.

Finally, thanks to the Christopher Lee Fan Page – the post made me smile and misty eyed in equal proportions.

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