This is a photo from the famous ending to the Hammer Films’ classic HORROR OF DRACULA (1958) starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
But if you watch HORROR OF DRACULA, you won’t see this scene. Not even on a “restored print” version. That’s because this scene exists only in a Far East version where it remains today locked in a vault somewhere in Japan.
It’s a fascinating story, and apparently, it’s true. In the late 1950s, Hammer Films routinely shot different versions of its films in order to satisfy different markets. The most violent and graphic versions of their movies were made for the Far East and sent to countries like Japan.
The original ending to HORROR OF DRACULA , where Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing leaps off a table in Castle Dracula, ripping down the curtains, trapping Christopher Lee’s Dracula in bright rays of sunlight, and eventually holding two candles in the shape of a cross to force Dracula into the rays of the sun, where Dracula rots away into a heap of ashes, contains a more extensive decomposition sequence in the Far East version than what we see in the West. In the lost version, Dracula is shown clawing at his face, ripping deep bloody gashes into his flesh.
This photo shows an early stage of decomposition which is not in the print we see today.
Supposedly, this is a true story, and there is indeed an uncut extended version of HORROR OF DRACULA out there which western audiences have never seen, locked in a film preservation vault somewhere in Japan.
In the past few years, there’s been a lot of buzz about this footage finally being released, but as far as I know, this has yet to happen.
This makes no sense to me. I find it difficult to believe that Hammer Films itself doesn’t own this version. You’d think they would have some legal rights over all the versions, and if they did, that they’d make it available, as it would no doubt earn them some money.
Let’s hope that someday soon this uncut version of HORROR OF DRACULA will be made available to audiences worldwide.
In the meantime, we have the stills to enjoy.