The worst thing that can happen to the film world is a movie becoming lost: destroyed, misplaced, or simply left to rot in a vault, never to be seen by a potential audience. It’s a tragedy for cinephiles, and it has happened quite a few times in the past with films such as London After Midnight and the Terror.
However, nothing is more interesting to film history buffs than when a film thought gone forever winds up in the strangest of places: in the hands of collectors, in the sheds of the filmmakers themselves, or on the hard drive of an employee who thought to back up the project when nobody else did.
Nowadays, with the advent of digital production, the phenomenon of rediscovered films is becoming a thing of the past. Nonetheless, the stories behind the finding of ‘lost’ films are quite fascinating, despite such events being incredibly rare. Whatever the reason, some films only get to survive to this day through complete chance, whereupon cult distributors snap up the opportunity to release such gems to eagerly-awaiting fans. These were the lucky few.
10. An American Hippie In Israel
An American Hippie In Israel, also known as Ha-Trempist or The Hitchhiker, is a 1972 counter-culture exploitation film written and directed by Israelite filmmaker Amos Sefer. Because it was an independent movie, and one that Israel film critics called ‘The worst film ever made’, Sefer failed to find a distributor willing to take on such a bizarre movie after its first theatrical release.
The film could have been lost forever until rumors of its existence reached the ears of Bob Murawski and Sage Stallone - founders of the cult distribution company Grindhouse Releasing. In 2012 they contacted Sefer who still had a complete print of it in his possession. Once it was in the hands of Grindhouse Releasing, Murawski cut together a trailer that was released on YouTube, and it was viewed by a vast number of hungry Grindhouse fans wanting to get their hands on this strange exploitation movie.
After its new release in 2012, the film became incredibly popular, especially on the Tel Aviv midnight movie circuit. It is screened monthly to this very day, and fans interact with the movie in ways reminiscent of those of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.