ZEPPELIN vs. PTERODACTYLS: anyone seen a script...

ZEPPELIN vs. PTERODACTYLS: anyone seen a script...

Joined: 21 Oct 2004, 16:50

24 Jan 2005, 11:04 #1

The ballyhoo factor of the poster drawn up to excite distributors for this stillborn Hammer project always fascinated me, but I've never heard whether a script was actually put together or if this was simply a product of James/Michael Carreras' AIP-style brainstorming exercises: title first, then the poster, then we'll actually come up with the movie. From reading Denis Meikle's part-unputdownable, part-frustrating Hammer biog "A History of Horrors"*, it seems that some of the unproduced titles for which garish publicity one-sheets exist, like VICTIM OF HIS IMAGINATION, did actually progress to the script stage (wasn't this a Chris Wicking number?), but I've never heard of any storyline for ZEPPELIN VS PTERODACTYLS. Just think of it: Harryhausen-animated pterosaurs battling WW1 German flyers, flimsy biplanes dogfighting with denizens of prehistory... This could have blown THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT out of the water. (I admit it: I have a fondness for airships.)

So, anybody able to shed any light on this alternate-universe potential classic?


* Off on a tangent here, but did anyone else hit the roof at the author's bizarre compulsion to rubbish the studio's few latterday classics, whilst simultaneously championing lurid nonsense like THE LOST CONTINENT - I mean to say, could a sane man describe QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (Nigel Kneale's own favourite of the Hammer series, with his personal choice of the Professor in the form of Andrew Keir) as "a Technicolor travesty" of the original BBC serial? Statements like this had me slapping my forehead in wordless amazement. But the research is faultless, so it's an essential purchase (if only for the priceless BBFC correspondence!). Grrr: other people's opinions... :rolleyes:
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Chas Lindsay
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Joined: 11 Nov 2004, 15:12

24 Jan 2005, 14:29 #2

There's an article on the unmade Hammer films in Little Shoppe Of Horrors issue 10/11, the one detailing the making of THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE. Briefly, ZEP began with the late David Allen, Dennis Muren and Jim Danforth. The story was along the lines of THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, with a German Zeppelin being blown off-course during a bombing raid on London and winding up at a "lost continent"-type place. Hammer was interested in the property during the production of WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH but developed misgivings about stop-motion animation, plus they couldn't raise the financial backing, so it was dropped. Allen, in the magazine's words, "was to continue the property until it evolved into THE PRIMEVALS".
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Joined: 21 Oct 2004, 16:50

24 Jan 2005, 15:58 #3

Thanks, Chas - I have a sporadic collection of LSOH back issues but, of course, not the one you've referenced. Interesting - now that you mention it, some part of my memory is recalling (or thinking it does) the involvement of David Allen and co...but it's probably a false memory. I have so many of them.

But ZVP is EXACTLY the kind of project I wish the new Hammer would resurrect to kick-start its much-promised return to film production.
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Chas Lindsay
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Joined: 11 Nov 2004, 15:12

24 Jan 2005, 16:12 #4

Which brings up the question as to what's happened to the Hammer revival? The official website (at least I think it is) hasn't had an update since August, 2003.

http://www.hammerfilms.com
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Shawn Garrett
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Joined: 07 Nov 2004, 04:30

24 Jan 2005, 21:17 #5

There's an article on the unmade Hammer films in Little Shoppe Of Horrors issue 10/11, the one detailing the making of THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE.
Would that article about KISS OF THE VAMPIRE mention anything about it possibly not having started as a vampire script? I ask this becauise it seems to me that the vampire aspect has an odd, tagged on feeling to it and that it might originally have been about a cult of satanists. Just a guess, and I've always wondered.

Regarding the new Hammer - I'd love to see them tackle THE STONES OF MUNCASTER CATHEDRAL, a great story that I have a BBC radio drama version of. It features medieval conspiracies, modern steeplejacks, alchemy, child murders and a gargoyle. Great potential there.
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Chas Lindsay
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Joined: 11 Nov 2004, 15:12

25 Jan 2005, 14:40 #6

There's nothing about KOTV starting as anything but a vampire story. I also checked this in Wayne Kinsey's "Hammer Films The Bray Studio Years". The project began as DRACULA 3 but changed into KOTV. Director Don Sharp has said that he thought the original KOTV script was "a bit too bloody and a bit too gruesome. I always felt it was better to tease an audience with suspense than to show them everything". And "You can hit an audience quite hard in the beginning, then tease them along and go for the big climax". So with screenwriter Tony Hinds (John Elder) agreement, changes were made. It may be that some other vampiric material was dropped, giving the impression that what remains was a later add-on idea, although I don't get that feeling.
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Joined: 21 Oct 2004, 16:50

25 Jan 2005, 15:58 #7

I may be remembering this wrongly, but I believe the vampire-bat-attack climax for KISS OF THE VAMPIRE originated in Jimmy Sangster's first-draft script for DRACULA II/THE DISCIPLE OF DRACULA, which later (with the excision of Dracula himself) morphed into BRIDES OF DRACULA.

But as Chas has already mentioned, KISS was always conceived as a vampire vehicle. The BBFC was notoriously picky about subject matter it considered beyond the pale - particularly with respect to Hammer, with whom Trevelyan took an even sterner attitude than he did with imported fare in a similar vein - and Satanism probably topped that list at the time KISS was in pre-production. (Look how tame THE DEVIL RIDES OUT turned out, when it was eventually green-lit several years later - I mean, great film, but decidedly prim when it comes to depicting the orgiastic excesses of those followers of the left-hand path.) The cobbled-together feel probably stems from Hammer's typically economical mix-and-match approach to its scripts; if you have to ditch an element from one storyline during development, make damn sure you include it in another somewhere down the line.
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Bill Warren
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Joined: 18 Oct 2004, 15:47

25 Jan 2005, 22:02 #8

The BIRDS-like attack by bats that climaxes KISS OF THE VAMPIRE had to have been planned for BRIDES OF DRACULA long after it was DRACULA II--as it's the climax of the novelization of BRIDES, which otherwise follows the finished film relatively closely.
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