Radio is cheaper than film, which opens up all sorts of possibilities. Sherlock and Doctor Who's Mark Gatiss is directing a radio production of the unmade Hammer Horror movie The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula using Anthony Frank Hinds's 1960s screenplay as part of Fright Night, this Friday on BBC Radio 4.
Set in 1930s India, the intended followup to Scars of Dracula was written primarily to take advantage of frozen assets that Warner Bros. (who financed and distributed Hammer's output) had in India at that time. But financing was problematic, and Hammer dropped the script in favour of updating the series to present-day London with Dracula AD 1972.
Lewis MacLeod (Dead Ringers) channels Christopher Lee as Dracula, whilst Michael Sheen narrates. The cast includes Nikesh Patel (Indian Summers, Midnight's Children), Meera Syal, Kulvinder Ghir, Anna Madeley, Ayesha Dharker and Raj Ghatek and is adapted for radio by Mark Gatiss and Laurence Bowen.
Hammer Films is synonymous with horror, after defining the genre in Britain with classics including Dracula, The Curse Of Frankenstein, and The Mummy. This new Radio 4 dramatisation is the first new Hammer Dracula production in 43 years and is part of Radio 4's ongoing Unmade Movie series.
Mark Gatiss said of the project:
"What better way to celebrate Hallowe'en than with a lost Hammer movie? And not just any Hammer movie! Anthony Hind's thrillingly titled The Unquenchable Thirst Of Dracula is a wonderful, rich and atmospheric script and way ahead of its time – set in the 30s, a sort of 'Heat and Dust and Fangs'! It was nearly made in the early 70s on location in India and I was thrilled to assemble a fantastic cast headed by Nikesh Patel, Michael Sheen, Meera Syal and Anna Madeley to bring this forgotten gem to gory life."
Michael Sheen commented:
"The prospect of a long lost Dracula script offering itself to me like a succulent pale neck was just too tempting. I devoured it in one sitting and cannot promise I won't strike again."