With our world of ubiquitous digital storage and our ability to have, like, 150 Skyrim saves, it’s hard to believe it’s possible to lose something like a film. Alas, thanks to a multitude of factors (such as inadequate record keeping and people plain old not giving a crap), hundreds – if not thousands – of films from the halcyon days of cinema have been lost. Here are 10 that we think they should focus on trying to find first.
Note: Given that many of these films quite literally no longer exist, plot details for some are sparse, but we’ve included as much information as we can.
10. The Unlicensed Batman Movie, Where he Fights Dracula: Batman Fights Dracula
Over the years, hundreds of unlicensed of Batman products have been made without the permission of DC. Including, if you’re so inclined, the worst porno movie ever made, which is also, funnily enough, a lost film.
Since we like to keep things PG though, we’re instead going to talk about Batman Fights Dracula, an unlicensed Batman film in which the Dark Knight fights the Prince of Darkness, in the Philippines. Little is known about the film’s plot, but come on – do you really need to know anything to want to see a Filipino stuntman, dressed as Batman, punch a guy in Dracula cape?
All we have left from the film is a poster, which is frankly amazing. It shows Batman in a kung fu pose, squaring off against Dracula, who is apparently in the middle of kidnapping someone. From the poster it’s also clear that the film starred Batman’s kid sidekick, Robin, in some capacity – something we can tell from the large R on his costume. For some reason Batman, instead of having a large bat on his chest, has a silhouette of a man dunking a basketball. Something we assume was probably explained during the film, hopefully in a choreographed dance number.
9. The First Ever Voiced Anime: Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka
Anime is a lot like vaping, in that it’s incredibly popular among a diverse group of people, but diehard fans who take it too seriously insist that it’s a niche interest. Even if you’re not a big fan of anime, something cool from your childhood – whether it’s the Power Rangers or Tekken 2 – owes some part of its existence to this genre of media.
Which is why it’s odd that what many consider to be the first example of anime featuring voiceover work is said to no longer exist, in any known form. Created in 1933, Chikare to Onna no Yo no Naka, or The World of Power and Women, follows the story of a man who cheats on his wife with his secretary. We’d say more about the story, but that’s literally all the information about it we have. Also it’s giving us flashbacks to our childhoods so we think it’s best to move on and talk about something less depressing. Like giant monster movies…
8. The Japanese Period Drama Starring King Kong: King Kong Appears in Edo
Godzilla is considered a seminal work of Japanese cinema and is credited with being the genesis of the kaiju (giant monster) genre. Think the kind of movies Pacific Rim was an homage to. Weirdly though, there was a Japanese film starring a giant monster released nearly two decades before Godzilla starring the other OG of the giant monster world, King Kong, that has since been lost.
Released in 1938 and supposedly inspired by the success of the 1933’s King Kong, King Kong Appears in Edo is an unusual movie in that nobody is quite sure if the ape in the film is actually a giant or not (it appears giant in posters, but people who watched the movie don’t remember it being that big). What we do know is that, unlike Godzilla, which was a horror movie espousing the horrors and destructive power of nuclear weapons, this film was a period drama, that also just so happened to feature a giant rampaging gorilla as the title character. If you’re not saddened by the fact you will never see this movie, we think they sell senses of childlike wonder on eBay.
7. One of the Best Spy Dramas Ever Made: Squadron Leader X
Recently there’s been a backlash of sorts against the glut of CGI-filled movies dominating the box office every summer. There has been a renewed appreciation for good old fashioned practical effects. Few people realize, though, just how old fashioned practical effects are. For example, consider the film Squadron Leader X, a 1943 spy thriller that features actual stunts and aerial dog-fights performed by actual members of the British Air Force during war time. Meaning the planes featured in this movie were real Allied planes, that had taken part in actual dog fights with the Axis, that the director somehow convinced to take part in pretend dog fights, for fun.
Contemporary reviews from the time called the film’s action scenes “among the most actionful and breath-taking ever screened” and we guess we’ll have to take their word for it, because no footage of them has survived.
6. The Gay Porno Starring Jesus: HIM
Okay so we kind of lied about wanting to keep things PG. But this one is too weird to not mention. Weird because the film was deemed so offensively unerotic that people genuinely don’t believe it ever existed. What little we know about the plot says that it focuses on a young man who becomes sexually fixated with Jesus. Which is, well…really weird. But hey, who are we to judge the kind of things people find sexy?
However, some people do feel like they have the right to judge, and there has been a genuine effort made to find this movie to prove it doesn’t exist, which seems kind of backwards to us. But everyone needs a hobby, we guess. So if you feel like you’re wasting time reading this article, remember there are people out there searching for a movie from the ’70s where Jesus does the horizontal hug with his fellow man.
5. Another Film About a Man in a Gorilla Costume Terrorizing Japan: Wasei Kingu Kongu
We know what you’re thinking: we already did this entry, right? Well as it turns out, Japan was way more into King Kong than we ever realized. Released in 1933 (the same year as King Kong), Wasei Kingu Kongu (that’s the actual title) follows the adventures of a young man called Santa (that’s his actual name) who, inspired by the film King Kong, dons a gorilla costume and takes part in a stage show to earn money to impress a girl he likes.
However, while performing in the show Santa sees the girl he likes sitting in the audience with a boyfriend and, overcome with rage, begins rampaging around Tokyo while still wearing the gorilla costume. Tokyo police, thinking Santa is a real gorilla (he’s apparently a very good actor), give chase. Showing remarkable mental aptitude for a guy who thought “gorilla costume” was the way to woo a girl, Santa gorilla slaps his paramour’s new boyfriend, steals his wallet, and then puts the gorilla costume on him so he gets arrested instead.
Santa then uses the boyfriend’s own money to marry the girl of his dreams in what we suspect is the most baller move ever committed to film. While there’s no confirmation about what happened to the film, our working theory is that it’s still frozen solid somewhere because of how cool that ending is.
4. The Disney Movie, Before Disney: Le avventure di Pinocchio
It says a lot about Disney as a company that they’re so powerful, folk stories that have existed for centuries – and in some cases, millennia – belong to them, because nobody would be willing to face down their legal department to make a Snow White or Pinocchio movie. Curiously, Disney as we know it today may never have existed if not for one Italian company abandoning – ironically – a Pinocchio movie.
That company was Cartoni Animati Italiani Roma (a company so dead it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page), who in 1936 were this close to releasing the first animated film ever made. The film would have basically been a retelling of the 1882 children’s story, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and would have beaten Disney to the punch of making the first animated film by an entire year. Budget concerns saw the entire film being canned before release, leaving behind over a hundred thousand drawings, and thousands of feet of film that has since disappeared like a fart in a wind tunnel.
Given that Snow White has grossed nearly half a billion dollars individually, and helped turn Disney into the corporate behemoth it is today, it’s easy to imagine what this film could have done for CAIR’s fortunes. Instead, the company imploded. Everyone involved lost their jobs, and Walt Disney went right ahead and bought the rights to the book and released his own version of the film a few years later just to rub it in.
3. The Bruce Lee Movie Where He Straight Up Murders People: The Big Boss, Original Mandarin Cut
It’s no secret that we love us some Bruce Lee here at TopTenz. Which is why we’re all kinds of annoyed that there is a film starring our main man that we’ll never get to see. The Big Boss was the film that first catapulted Bruce Lee to fame, but as we’ve mentioned before, there’s a bunch of stuff cut from that movie including scenes of Bruce Lee killing people with gardening implements, and having sex with prostitutes.
As far as film buffs can tell, the only version of the movie with all that good stuff left in was the original 1971 Mandarin cut that has since disappeared. The content was apparently so shocking that the film was heavily edited soon after the first showing, and was edited further in compliance with the various censorship boards of the numerous countries it was shipped to overseas. As a result, the original, true version of this movie – the version the director and Bruce Lee wanted us to see, the version with all the ’70s era violence and sex left in – doesn’t exist anymore, and we hate that.
2. The Colorized Version of the Best Movie Ever Made: Citizen Kane
We’re not going to waste valuable digital ink fawning over Citizen Kane, because there are like 8,000 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes already doing that. The film is rightfully considered a cinematic masterpiece, though at the time it was crapped on because the guy it was parodying threw a big temper tantrum. Figures.
Sometime in ’80s there were plans afoot to have the film colorized for a modern audience. That was something director, writer and magnificent beard owner Orson Welles vehemently opposed, allegedly quipping “don’t let Ted Turner deface my movie with his crayons” shortly before his death. Welles was so aversed to the idea of colorizing the film that he even included stipulations in his will that the film never be shown in anything other than black and white. Which didn’t stop Ted Turner and his crayons from doing it anyway.
*Note to everyone reading: if there’s one ghost you don’t want to annoy, it’s Orson Welles’
Supposedly, only the film’s final reel was colorized. To date only a single minute of this footage has ever surfaced, in an obscure ’90s documentary aired by the BBC. Of course thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can watch that minute right here and see how awful it is for yourself. Hey, speaking of fetid turds…
1. The Original (Better) Copy of One of the Worst Films Ever: Foodfight!
The title of “worst film ever made” is paradoxically one that is more contested than the title of best, with dozens of films vying for the place beneath the scum at the bottom of the barrel. If Foodfight! isn’t the worst film ever made, it is certainly a worthy contender.
In a nutshell, Foodfight! is an animated film detailing the adventures of various brand mascots in a fictitious supermarket. If you’re having trouble picturing it, just imagine what that new Seth Rogen animated movie would look like if he sold out harder than a special edition iPhone. The film is considered one of the most pandering, blatant, and offensive examples of product placement ever seen and featured animation so poor it wouldn’t look out of place in a Sonic game. It also stars Charlie Sheen, Christopher Lloyd, and Hillary Duff, and cost $45 million dollars to make.
The film’s producers maintain that the version we got looks like it was slapped together at the last second because it was, and that there exists a better, earlier version of the movie, as evidenced by trailers that somehow have significantly better animation quality. Supposedly this god-tier version of the film was stolen in – get this – an act of “industrial espionage” and they were forced to remake the entire movie using old assets and no money.
Sadly, the ninja who stole the film has never released it or uploaded it to a filesharing website, presumably to save us from having our eyes and heads melt like those Nazis who looked directly into the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark.