I think this picture is of a monster from a Hammer Films / Toho co-production that never happened.
I’ve been reading Sinclair McKay’s A Thing of Unspeakable Horror: The History of Hammer Films (Aurum Press, 2007) — which is a fascinating sociological study, even if I find some of his evaluations of specific films problematic — and I came across a reference to an interesting giant monster film that died before production began. Apparently Bryan Forbes (who had been a managing director of EMI in the early 1970s) was approached by Hammer in the mid-1970s regarding a film project.
Hammer — like the rest of the British film industry — was struggling to survive, forced out of profitability by contracting cinema attendance, lack of funding opportunities and changing perceptions of the horror genre that Hammer had previously dominated with its unique gothic approach. Hammer hoped that Forbes could help guide the company into new, more viable areas.
According to McKay, Forbes wrote a screenplay for a film of epic proportions called “Nessie”. It would:
…. dramatise the Loch Ness Monster and be a sort of cross between King Kong and Jaws. ‘It was a sort of horror in that it was a monster movie,’ [Forbes] recalled. Forbes wrote a very detailed screenplay, one involving underwater ruins and oil rigs in the Indian ocean getting wrecked.’
Various people were to be involved, including Godzilla’s Toho Studios (according to Toho Kingdom). Bryan Forbes would direct and Toho’s Teruyoshi Nakano handle special effects, with David Frost, Euan Lloyd, Michael Carreras, and Tomoyuki Tanaka producing (at least according to the poster mock-up that was created):
‘But it disappeared,’ said Forbes. ‘Just disappeared without trace really.’ Forbes still has the script, and production sketches… (McKay, p.173)
Toho Kingom adds:
Work on the film had actually already commenced on Toho’s part by the time that the financial backing from Hammer fell through. Special effects guru Teruyoshi Nakano had already designed and created the Nessie prop by the time the project was finally axed. This wasn’t the first time a co-production between Toho and a foreign company resulted in one of the companies pulling out after production had started though, the first being the TV version of Varan in 1958. However, after the rights issues involving another failed joint venture, Latitude Zero (1969), following its initial theatrical release, this project was most likely best deemed left unfinished. This film wouldn’t mark the end of the Nessie prop, however, as special effects director Nakano would bring the creature back as the Dragon in his last film, Princess from the Moon, done in 1987.
- Sinclair McKay, A Thing of Unspeakable Horror: A History of Hammer Films (Aurum, 2007)
- Toho Kingdom (including images)