Following a discussion with a Flixster buddy I noticed that Hammer’s unsold – and now public domain - TV pilot Tales of Frankenstein (1958) is freely available at the Internet Archive.
Tales was shot in Hollywood parallel to the Bray production of Hammer’s second Frankenstein feature film, Revenge of Frankenstein. This was meant to be the start of a TV series with another 26 episodes meant to be shot in Bray, however, although written by Curt Siodmak and starring a very good Anton Diffring, the concept never took off. According to sources at Hammer the American producers preferred a more generic approach and to move away from the more British Gothic approach that Hammer had favoured.
Then again, maybe it wasn’t bought off just because it wasn’t all that great in the first place. At 27 minutes it sure doesn’t overstay its welcome, but this pilot is really just a mishmash of every possible Frankenstein cliché available to the writer. Filmed in black and white and with minuscule budget it lacks the class of Hammer’s feature movies and the monster make up really is just run of the mill.
After finding this TV pilot I was curious to see what other early Hammer productions may be available at the Archive.
So far I only discovered the old Bela Lugosi classic The Mystery of the Marie Celeste/Phantom Ship (1936), though I suspect that given some more in depth researching there may still be some more of those Hammer productions available for visitors of the Archive site.
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