WAR OF THE COLLOSSAL FREAKS
History of a Lost Film
At the close of the year 1966, Italian Director: Sergio Leone and American Actor Clint Eastwood had just completed a string of highly successful films now referred to as their "Spaghetti Westerns". This series began in 1964 with "A Fistful of Dollars", continued on with 1965’s "For a Few Dollars More", and concluded with "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" in 1966.
Leone had long been nurturing a big-budget, science fiction film script he had written many years before, and convinced a reluctant Eastwood to star in his epic as a last favor before returning to the states. The script was entitled "War of the Colossal Freaks of Frankenstein’s Planet" and was pure, red-blooded, action adventure that harkened back to the days when Leone directed his first few gladiator "Sword and Sandal" films at the beginning of his career.
With Clint now on board, Leone was able to gather financing for his film, and even sign an impressive list of actors to play a few of the supporting roles.
Legendary actor and director Orson Welles came on the production to play the evil villain of Frankenstein’s Planet: Lord Razoraxx (many believe he merely took the job so that he could in turn use his considerable earnings to help finance his friend Philippe Lasalle’s production of "Oedipus the King" in England that next year.)
Also Sergio added character actor Ted Cassidy, best known for his portrayal of "Lurch" the family butler on the T.V. show "The Addams Family". The 7 foot plus actor was set to play Gargus Agg, an immense four-armed monstrosity who first battles Eastwood’s hero: Artemus Axel, only to become the lone human’s most trusted ally.
Leone was lucky enough to recruit veteran make-up artist John Chambers for the huge task of creating Frankenstein Planet’s varying array of freakish gladiators. Chambers would later win a much-deserved Oscar for his work on the make-ups for 1968’s "Planet of the Apes". Special effects master Ray Harryhausen worked briefly on a number of intense and dynamic stop motion animation sequences before moving on to start pre-production on his own film: 1969’s "The Valley of Gwangi".
"War of the Colossal Freaks of Frankenstein’s Planet" began principal photography in Malta and parts of Tunisia in 1966, and wrapped at the beginning of the following year. Clint Eastwood returned to Hollywood while Sergio began postproduction and editing, with long-time collaborator Ennio Morricone composing the musical score for the film. What happened next is still not entirely clear, and the true secrets of what occurred the finished production may have died with the great Sergio Leone in 1998.
Clint Eastwood had come back to the United States a full-fledged movie star, the films he had done in Italy with Leone had made millions for the studios that had produced them on both sides of the ocean. Eastwood feared that he would be typecast as a science fiction film actor if he and Leone’s newest extravaganza was to be released on a world that now saw him as a bonafide, bankable leading man.
The actor used his now considerable finances and Hollywood clout to buy up and bury the film. Most film historians believe that all prints of the motion picture have since been destroyed, and it has become the Holey Grail for film archivists everywhere who still harbor some hope a print will someday be found. To this day Clint Eastwood himself continues to deny any knowledge of the films existence.
Remarkably, a number of production drawings and character concept art pieces from the movie have surfaced in the United States in recent months, as well as copies of a pre-release teaser poster.
It also just so happens that a few of the talented designers who worked on the motion picture were relatives of a number of illustrators now employed at the American Greetings Corporation in Cleveland, Ohio. These amazing and provocative artifacts have thankfully been relinquished into their possession, so that for the first time in almost 39 years we can all behold the horrors and wonders of:
WAR OF THE COLLOSSAL FREAKS