Wednesday 14 September 2011

Hammer Horror News: Lost Dracula Footage Found in Japan

For a confirmed Hammer geek like me, this is the most exciting news to have surfaced in a while.

According to the official Hammer Films website, a Hammer horror fan has discovered long-lost footage of Count Dracula's disintegration from the 1958 film Dracula (US title: The Horror of Dracula). The extra few seconds of film, shot for the Japanese market, have apparently not been seen in decades, and Hammer fans have long debated whether the scene was even filmed or only ever existed in a photo still.

In the version known to most fans today, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) forces Dracula (Christopher Lee) into a shaft of sunlight. He begins to pale and weaken before a cutaway to Van Helsing's reaction; in the next shot of Dracula, the disintegration -- of a special-effects dummy, not Lee -- is almost complete. In the still above, however, there's clearly an intermediate phase, featuring Lee himself, that most audiences have never seen.

The find also included some extra footage of the iconic scene in which Dracula bites Mina Holmwood (Melissa Stribling) in her bedroom. According to Simon Rowson, who uncovered the missing film in an archive in Tokyo, "on the Japanese print there is a shot from a completely different angle which clearly shows Christopher Lee’s mouth wide open and his fangs fully exposed as he moves forward to bite Melissa Stribling’s neck."

Hammer Films says it intends to release the footage as part of a future UK DVD release.