Audiences got a glimpse of "what might have been" as possibly the most famous Hammer Horror film never made was performed on stage.
A live script reading of Vampirella, starring Caroline Munro, Jonathan Rigby and Georgina Dugdale in the title role, revealed a wild and wacky plot featuring Hell’s Angels, ghouls, aliens and vampire killers as our bloodthirsty heroine battles to save the Earth.
The performance at London’s Regent Street Cinema, was a sell out. The comic book heroine, created by Forrest J Ackerman and artist Trina Robbins, was set to be the subject of a Hammer Horror film in 1976 but despite casting Peter Cushing and Orson Welles, it never happened because the studio ran out of money.
The unmade script, by Christopher Wicking, made its way into the Hammer Horror archive at DMU where Dr Foster came across it and had the idea of bringing it to life.
It was the culmination of months of hard work for DMU postgraduate Dr Kieran Foster, whose thesis examined Hammer’s unmade films. DMU has been home to the Hammer Horror archive since 2012.
He said: “Everyone seems to have really loved it. Everyone worked to the very best of their abilities, all the actors were incredible. I’m really happy with it. People have started to ask me about the film, what would have happened if it had been made.
“People are interested in the history of the film and I think we gave them a glimpse of what it could have been here. I’m just really grateful to everyone who has worked on this project with me, I can’t thank them enough.”
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Kieran worked with actor, writer and director Jonathan Rigby who adapted the original Christopher Wicking script for the reading. Caroline Munro, Bond girl and star of Hammer’s Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, appeared along with her daughter Georgina who starred as Vampirella.
“She was really fun to play,” said Georgina. “It’s always good to be given a strong female character that’s got so many different layers. It was a joy to play her and I think it would have been such a good film.”
Illustrator Graham Humphrys created a poster for the reading, while DMU Animation graduate Karlton Dolo put together an original animated prologue and composer Luke Jackson came up with Vampirella’s own theme.
Jonathan Rigby, director and actor, said: “As someone who came to see it tonight said it’s batshit crazy, which is quite appropriate, given the subject matter. I was intrigued by it, and it’s a real ‘what might have been’.
I got together an extremely good cast and most directors know everyone really plunged in and I think that enjoyment communicated itself to the audience.”
Audience members said they had thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Jason Atomic, a comic book artist, said: “It’s such a great line-up. I have been re-reading the comics in preparation for this. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I think this is a tremendous piece of work.”
“It’s been so much fun,” said Sadie Taylor, a teacher. “I’m a fan of the films but I hadn’t heard of Vampirella before tonight. I think it would have been a fun film – maybe it still could!”
Posted on Monday 21st October 2019