From silent films to animated features, from horror classics to unlicensed parodies, we take a look at 15 lost films that the world is still looking for.
15) Batman Dracula Fights
This film from 1967 is an unlicenced parody that sees the DC Comics hero, Batman face off against Dracula (something the official comics themselves have done a number of time). This Filipino film starring Jing Abalos as the caped crusader is one of the most sought after lost Asian films for vintage movie buffs.
14) Pages of Death
This anti-pornography film was released in 1962 and created by Citizens for Decent Literature. Not much is know about this PSA film other than it was narrated by former University of Michigan Heisman Trophy winner and sports broadcaster Tom Harmon and told of how pornography would lead one to kill their neighbor. Remember kids, prono mags kill.
Update (1/21/16): Pages of Death has been found! The Oregon Historical Society has located a copy of the film and persevered it online. You can watch it for yourself below! It just goes to show that there is still hope for every film on this list.
13) Little Iodine
This 1946 comedy was based on the famed comic strip of the same name by Jimmy Halto. Released on October 20th, the film was initially delayed due to a large polio outbreak and starts Irene Ryan who would eventually go on to play Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies. No known prints of the film are known to survive, but there is a chance a copy exists in a film vault somewhere out there.
12) This Man is Dangerous
This 1941 starring James Mason is based on the novel “They Called Him Death”. A British thriller that was well received upon its release, “This Man is Dangerous” was shown a number of times on television a number of times, with its last know television showing coming in 1987. The original negatives and prints have since been lost, but as home recording technology was around in 87, there is a possibility that this film is sitting in someone’s attic.
11) The Oregon Trail
No relation to the video game of the same name, this 1936 film film starred famed actor John Wayne before he reached mainstream success as an A-list actor. There are no known prints to still exist, but forty stills from the film did surface sometime in 2013.
10) Murder at Monte Carlo
This 1934 production was the film debut for legendary actor Errol Flynn in the United Kingdom. The film itself was considered a “quota quicke” a low-cost, low-quality film created in a short period of time by American distributors in the UK to meet the requirements for British cinemas to stimulate their declining film industry.
09) The Monkey’s Paw
This 1933 horror film directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack was based the story story of the same name by W.W. Jacobs. The film tells the story of a mother using the magical Monkey’s Paw to grant her wish of returning her son back to life. While no known prints are said to survive, several adaptations were later produced with the most recent in 2004 as a radio play narrated by Christopher Lee.
08) Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka (The World of Power and Women)
This 1933 Japanese anime by studio Shochiku is important as it was the first anime to use voiceovers. Shortly after the release of the Jazz Singer Japan was quick to jump on this new format and after their success with Madame and the Courtesan the studio commissioned this anime. To this day no known prints are known to exist.
07) The Great Gatsby
A number of versions of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel have been produced, but this 1926 silent film version directed by Herbert Brenon is the first known adaptation of the novel. The film was produced by Paramount Pictures. Many attempts have been made to locate a print of the film, but none have been successful, although there is a rumor that a copy exists in a film archive somewhere in Moscow.
06) King Kong Appears in Edo
This 1938 silent film from Japan was broken up into two parts: King Kong Appears in Edo: The Episode of the Monster and King Kong Appears in Edo: The Episode of Gold. The two films were released in theaters a weeks apart from each other. Fuminori Ohashi who worked on the apre suit in the film would later go on to create the iconic suit for the original Godzilla.
Amazingly, this film saw a limited theatrical release in the UK in 2012 with a quiet straight to DVD release in the US in 2013. What makes this one interesting is that the film was intended for wide theatrical in 2003, but a number of hard drives containing the original assets were stolen. What is left of the original promotional shows a much better looking film, but as they hard drives have never turned up we will never get to see it.
04) Dracula’s Death
This 1921 silent film from Hungary was the first screen adaptation of Dracula, preceding the legendary Nosferatu by over a year. The film saw much success in Europe and was later re-released in 1923 with new editing having been done. Recent recent research has shown that the films plot did not follow that of the Bram Stoker novel as once thought, but as a print does not exist that neither can be confirmed or denied.
03) White Man
This 1924 silent film is notable for being the first film appearance of Clark Gable. Directed by Louis J. Gasnier and produced by B. P. Shulberg the film is tells the story of an engaged woman that leaves her rich fiance right before the wedding and runs off with the help of a pilot by the name of White Man. The pair crash in the jungle and end up lost. much like any surviving print of this film.
02) The Day The Clown Cried
This 1972 film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis was completed, but locked away after rights to the project could not be acquired after a difficult production and ongoing litigation that continues to this day. The film’s story sees Lewis play a clown during World War 2 who is impassioned by the Gestapo. In the film he uses his talents to entertain the Jewish children and the guards take note, eventually tricking him into leading children into trucks in a pied piper fashion bound for Auschwitz. He tags along and ends up accompanying them into the gas chambers knowing the fear they would feel if he weren’t there playing with them. Maybe it was a good thing this film stayed locked away.
01) London After Midnight
This 1927 silent horror film was based on the short story “The Hypnotist” by Tod Browning who also happened to direct this film adaptation. The film is noted for starring Lon Chaney with the makeup used for his vampire character being done by himself. The film was a success upon its release by MGM, but all prints have been lost to time. The film is considered to be the most famous and sought after lost film of all time, with Turner Classic Movies airing a reconstructed version of the film using the original script as well as actual production stills.
Got an idea for another list? Drop us an email or leave a comment below!