The pilot episode of Star Trek. Prince’s Black Album. The original edit of Blade Runner. Many formerly hard-to-find items are just a click away on Amazon.com, iTunes, and Netflix. But the truth is that, even in this age of expanded rereleases and DVD extras, certain cultural artifacts still exist only as rumor, nigh impossible to track down. And that makes the idea of getting your hands on these curiosities, camp classics, and coulda-beens all the more intoxicating. Join us on a tour of the vault of lost artifacts — and if you have access to anything on the wanted list, ping us, huh?
You can purchase bits and pieces of it legally. Bootleg
Not available in stores, but illicit copies can be found online. Extremely
The few surviving copies sell for ludicrous amounts. Forget It
It exists… in some form. Somewhere. But good luck finding it. Utterly Vanished
As far as we know, no copies exist.
Deleted Doctor Who
Doctor Who has been running since 1963, and it’s something of a national treasure in the U.K. But it wasn’t always so cherished — more than a third of the episodes, 132 hours’ worth, were thoughtlessly exterminated by BBC apparatchiks. Most of the early episodes were shot on 2-inch, 405-line black-and-white videotape, but the bulk of seasons one through eight were systematically “wiped,” or erased, to make room in storage. “It was just another TV show to them,” says Whovian historian Richard Molesworth. “There was no inherent worth in it.”
But it turns out that you don’t need a time-traveling Tardis to glimpse some of these deleted classics: The BBC sold video-to-film transfers of early seasons to foreign markets, and those 16-mm reels have turned up in places like Nigeria, Cyprus, and Hong Kong. “In the ’80s, two or three episodes would be found a year,” Molesworth says. “But only two episodes have been found in the past 10 to 15 years.” Any celluloid still out there is in risk of deteriorating.
Fans are now reconstructing episodes using surviving audio tracks and photos that people snapped of their telly screens. They’re spiced up with surviving film clips that Australian censors once snipped for being too racy.
What Would You Like To Get Your Hands On?
“I wanna see all the Eric Stoltz Back to the Future footage. All of it.”
— J.J. Abrams, creator of Alias; cocreator of Lost
Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly in the 1985 flick, but he got the ax after five weeks of filming. A few clips of him are on a recent DVD rerelease, showing that his McFly was much edgier than Michael J. Fox’s (and that he stole his outfit from the Flock of Seagulls keytarist). Most of the footage remains unseen — in our universe. In the alternate universe Abrams created for Fringe, a theater marquee reads “Back to the Future Starring Eric Stoltz”.
|The Mountain Eagle, 1926||There are no known copies of Alfred Hitchcock’s second feature, a thriller set in Kentucky.||London After Midnight, 1927||The last print of this horror flick, featuring a distinctive Lon Chaney makeup job, was destroyed in an MGM vault fire.||The Mysterious Island, 1929||This Jules Verne adaptation was shot in color. The only full versions left are black-and-white copies.||King Kong Appears in Edo, 1938||A Japanese monster film that predated Godzilla by 16 years — gone.||Stalker (Original version), 1978||Andrei Tarkovsky had to reshoot this entire sci-fi feature — months’ worth of work — due to errors in film developing.|
Credits: Illustrations: Goñi Montes; London After Midnight: Everett; Doctor Who: BBC