Calling all horror fans! Legendary Hammer film Vampirella to be performed

One of the most famous films that horror studio Hammer never made is now to be performed live in a production featuring one of the studio’s most famous stars. 

Vampirella was planned to be a big-budget Hammer horror in the 1970s with Peter Cushing signed on to star along with former Beatle Ringo Starr and Hollywood legend Orson Welles, with Barbara Leigh as the superhero vampire. But the studio’s financial woes meant that it was canned at the 11th hour.

Vampirella image

Now Caroline Munro – Bond girl and star of Hammer’s Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter and Dracula AD 1972 – and her daughter Georgina Dugdale, alongside actor/director Jonathan Rigby, are to take part in a script reading of Vampirella at London’s Regent Street Cinema on October 17.

The project has been devised at De Montfort University, Leicester by Dr Kieran Foster, whose PhD focused on Hammer’s unmade films. The studio sent him the script for Vampirella, which was based on a comic book character who first appeared in 1969, a time when Hammer was looking for a new angle and using a comic character to front a film was far less common. DMU is home to the Hammer archive.

Kieran said: “Vampirella is a legendary ‘film that never was’ for a lot of Hammer fans and to be able to give a glimpse of what might have been, especially with actors like Caroline Munro taking part, is amazing.

“It’s exciting for us to be able to give it a premiere – it will be an immersive experience for the audience with animation, a live reading, and specially commissioned original music.”

Kieran has worked with DMU Animation graduate Karlton Dolo who has created an original animated prologue and commissioned composer Luke Jackson to write a score which has a distinctive 1970s vibe. Media Production student Adam Fox is creating credits and recording the performance.

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Kieran explains: “Back in the 1970s it got so close to being made. In 1975 you had Peter Cushing being flown out to America to promote it, people were doing location scouting. Hammer knew they had to spend money to attract American investors but unfortunately they just could not get the money,”.

“It’s ironic really because just a couple of years later you have Superman which was a comic book adaptation. The chances are that if they had made it, it would have been crushed under its own weight, but as a live reading it will be amazing. It has a punchy plot that sprints through. I think it will be a lot of fun.”

Jonathan Rigby, an Associate Research Fellow at DMU’s Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI) adapted the script, which features the heroine meeting Hell’s Angels, James Bond-esque spies and more. 

Posted on Friday 13 September 2019

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