Amicus Productions was a British film production company, based at Shepperton Studios, England, active between 1962 and 1977. It was founded by American producers and screenwriters Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg.
Amicus's first two films were low-budget musicals for the teenage market, It's Trad, Dad! (1962) and Just for Fun (1963). Prior to establishing Amicus, the two producers collaborated on the horror film The City of the Dead (1960). Amicus made a series of portmanteau horror anthologies, inspired by the Ealing Studios film Dead of Night (1945). They also made some straight thriller films, often based on a gimmick.
Amicus's horror and thriller films are sometimes mistaken for the output of the better-known Hammer Film Productions, due to the two companies' similar visual style and use of the same actors, including Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Unlike the period gothic Hammer films, Amicus productions were usually set in the present day.
Portmanteau horror filmsEdit
Amicus's portmanteau films included Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), directed by Freddie Francis, Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1971), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Asylum (1972), Vault of Horror (1973) and From Beyond the Grave (1974). These films typically feature four or sometimes five short horror stories, linked by an overarching plot featuring a narrator and those listening to his story.
The casts of these films are invariably composed of name actors, each of whom play a main part in one of the stories-a small proportion of the film as a whole. Along with genre stars like Cushing, Lee and Herbert Lom, Amicus also drew its actors from the classical British stage (Patrick Magee, Margaret Leighton and Sir Ralph Richardson), younger actors (Donald Sutherland, Robert Powell and Tom Baker), or former stars in decline (Richard Greene, Robert Hutton, and Terry-Thomas). Some, such as Joan Collins, were in their mid-career doldrums when they worked with Amicus.
Torture Garden, Asylum and The House That Dripped Blood were written by Robert Bloch, based upon his own stories. An exception was the "Waxworks" segment of The House That Dripped Blood, which was scripted (uncredited) by Russ Jones, based on Bloch's story. Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror were based on stories from EC horror comics from the 1950s.
Other horror filmsEdit
Amicus also produced some conventional chillers, such as The Skull (1965), The Deadly Bees (1966), I, Monster (1971), And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973), and The Beast Must Die (1974). The Skull was also based on a Bloch story (though scripted by Milton Subotsky). Bloch was also the screenwriter of Amicus's thriller The Psychopath (1966), and the adaptation of The Deadly Bees (based upon H. F. Heard's A Taste for Honey).
Science fiction, espionage, dramaEdit
In the mid-1960s Amicus also produced two films based on the television series Doctor Who which had debuted on television in 1963. The films, Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966), are the only theatrical film adaptations of the series. In these films Peter Cushing played "Dr. Who", a human scientist rather than an alien, with Who as his actual surname, ignoring the backstory of the TV series.
Amicus also funded and produced films of other genres. Danger Route (1967) was a film version of Christopher Nicole's (writing as Andrew York) 1966 spy novel The Eliminator, directed by Seth Holt. Amicus produced a film version of Harold Pinter's play The Birthday Party (1968) directed by William Friedkin. Margaret Drabble's adaptation of her novel The Millstone (1965) was filmed as A Touch of Love (1969), and Laurence Moody's novel The Ruthless Ones (1969) was filmed as What Became of Jack and Jill? (1972)
Milton Subotsky relocated to Canada for a time and unsuccessfully tried to carry on the anthology tradition with such films as The Uncanny (1977) and The Monster Club (1980); Peter Cushing came along for the former but passed on the latter. Subotsky secured the rights to some Stephen King properties in the 1980s and got a credit on the King anthology film Cat's Eye (1985). His final credits, again based on King properties, would be The Lawnmower Man (1992), Sometimes They Come Back (1991) and Sometimes They Come Back... Again (1996), the last title bearing Subotsky's final credit; he had died in 1991.
In 2003, Anchor Bay Entertainment released a five disc DVD box-set of Amicus films in a coffin-shaped container in the UK. In 2005, Amicus was revived to produce homages to the old titles as well as original horror fare. Their first production was Stuart Gordon's Stuck (2007).
- It's Trad, Dad! (1962)
- Just for Fun (1963)
- Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965)
- Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)
- The Skull (1965)
- Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966)
- The Psychopath (1966)
- The Deadly Bees (1966)
- Torture Garden (1967)
- Danger Route (1967)
- They Came from Beyond Space (1967)
- The Terrornauts (1967)
- A Touch of Love (1969)
- The Mind of Mr. Soames (1969)
- The House That Dripped Blood (1970)
- Scream and Scream Again (1970)
- I, Monster (1971)
- What Became of Jack and Jill? (1972)
- Asylum (1972)
- Tales from the Crypt (1972)
- The Vault of Horror (1973)
- And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973)
- From Beyond the Grave (1974)
- Madhouse (1974)
- The Beast Must Die (1974)
- The Land That Time Forgot (1975)
- At the Earth's Core (1976)
- The People That Time Forgot (1977)
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- Pirie, David (2008). A New Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema. London: I. B. Tauris.
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