Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Double Bill and Some Movies That Might Have Been

This turned up on Twitter a while ago.  I suspect that it is a double page spread from a trade magazine rather than a poster.  A suspicion reinforced by the fact that it is publicising Hammer's latest releases for 1969 and there seems to be staple holes in the centre fold. The double bill it is advertising represented another attempt by Hammer to diversify away from Gothic horror pictures, with prehistoric epic When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth looking to capitalise on the success of  Hammer's earlier One Million Years BC and Moon Zero Two an attempt to cash in on the then recent first moon landing. The latter, billed as a 'space western' boasts some pretty decent special effects, but a pretty pedestrian plot.  To be fair, the last time I saw it was when I was a kid, I suspect that I might enjoy it more as an adult.  When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth likewise boasted good special effects, with Jim Danforth supplying the stop motion dinosaurs.  It also boasts lots of cave girls in tight fitting bikinis (and some topless scenes in the European release versions).

While this is certainly the sort of double bill where most people would have left the cinema feeling they'd had their money's worth, perhaps more intriguing are the 'coming attractions' listed at the bottom of the ad.  Some of these films were produced and released by Hammer, with Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed and Taste the Blood of Dracula being released a few months later.  Creatures the World Forgot, another prehistoric epic, but without the dinosaurs, followed in 1970, along with The Horror FrankensteinThe Claw, I suspect, eventually became the 1972 Les Diaboliques inspired psychological thriller, Fear in the Night, which feature Peter Cushing as a headmaster with an artificial arm.  Of the others mentioned, I have no idea what In the Sun might have been about, likewise The Reluctant Virgin, (although there was a 1971 Italian film with this as its English language title), the other two, I do have some knowledge of.

The Haunting of Toby Jugg was a long in gestation Dennis Wheatley adaptation Hammer had originally intended as a follow up to The Devil Rides Out.  In the late sixties Hammer had high hopes for its proposed series of adaptations of Wheatley's best selling occult novels, seeing them as potential successors to their existing Dracula and Frankenstein franchises, which were clearly running out of steam.  Despite nowadays being one of Hammer's most admired productions, The Devil Rides Out didn't turn out to be a big money spinner on its original release.  Consequently, despite a script being commissioned from Richard Matheson, the proposed Toby Jugg adaptation was eventually shelved.  (The BBC finally adapted it under the title The Haunted Airman a few years ago).  As far as I'm aware When the World Cracked Open never made it to the script stage, but at least two promotional posters for this project were prepared  Interestingly, one appeared to give the story a futuristic setting (space helmeted figures and ray guns), while the other gave it an historical setting, (all sailing ships and pirate types).  Both, as I recall, showed the oceans draining away as the result of the titular cracked earth.  Clearly, Hammer had a concept for the film, but were undecided as how best to execute it.  Either approach - science fiction or historical - could have drawn upon the experience of previous Hammer productions like Moon Zero Two, or Devil Ship Pirates, for instance.  Foe whatever reasons, the film seemingly never progressed beyond this promotional poster stage.  It remains, along with The Haunting of Toby Jugg, an intriguing might-have-been in Hammer's history.

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