I’ve been doing so many of these multi-part “never got made” entries that it feels almost odd going back to the one film format. However, this entry is rather special in my opinion so it deserves this treatment. This is the furthest back I’ve gone to research a film (40 years!) and it is a project that I’m sure would have made an impact had it been made. Not only did it center on the Frankenstein mythos, one of the most enduring scenarios in the horror genre (see our look at other unmade Frankenstein projects here), but it was to feature one of the most captivating actors of that era.
Literally all the press one can find on BYRON’S EVIL is this mention in the summer 1972 issue of Cinefantastique.
Okay, a film about the Frankenstein legend featuring Oliver Reed as both Lord Byron and Frankenstein’s monster? This I have to know more about. Thankfully, Sinclair is still with us and he was not only open to talking about the unmade film project from four decades ago, but maintained a sharp recollection of the events surrounding it. A confessed digital Luddite, Sinclair generously corresponded over a series of letters to help fill in the gaps and save this intriguing project from disappearing from horror cinema history.
With Reed attached, Sinclair set out to surround him with equally compelling supporting players. For the dual role of Percy Shelley and Dr. Frankenstein, Sinclair sought a young actor he had worked with in the aforementioned SKIN TRADE stage adaptation in 1964. “David Hemmings was to play Shelley/Dr. Frankenstein,” he explains of his casting. “I got his big role in BLOW-UP (1966) when he starred in my Dylan Thomas play ADVENTURES IN THE SKIN TRADE.” In the pivotal role of Mary Shelley, Sinclair again chose someone he had worked with previously in a J. Lee Thompson film. “Anna Karina was to play Mary Shelley,” he discloses. “She appeared through me with David Niven and Topol in my screen-written BEFORE WINTER COMES (1969).”