Amicus Productions  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
British film, British horror

Amicus Productions is a British film production company, based at Shepperton Studios, England. It was founded by American producer and screenwriter Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg.



Amicus is perhaps best known for Subotsky's own trademark portmanteau horror anthologies, inspired by the Ealing Studios film Dead of Night<ref>David Pirie A New Heritage of Horror, p.133</ref>, including Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1964), directed by genre stalwart Freddie Francis, Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror. The last two were based on stories from EC horror comics from the 1950s. 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 comprised of name actors, each of whom play small parts in the various stories. Along with the expected genre stars, such as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Herbert Lom, Amicus also drew its actors from the classical British stage (Patrick Magee, Margaret Leighton and even Sir Ralph Richardson), up-and-comers (Donald Sutherland, Robert Powell and Tom Baker), or former stars on the way down (Richard Greene, Robert Hutton, and Terry-Thomas). Some, such as Joan Collins, were in their mid-career doldrums when they signed on with Amicus.

Hammer Films

Amicus films are often mistaken for the output of the better-known Hammer Films, to which they are similar in visual style, and with which they share many stars, including Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Unlike the period gothic Hammer films, however, Amicus productions were usually set in the present day (as Vincent Price's character says in The Monster Club, this means a "lower budget!") . They now enjoy a considerable cult following of their own.

Science fiction

Amicus Productions also produced small number of sci-fi films, with adaptations of several of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and, in the mid-1960s, two films based on the then-relatively-new television series Doctor Who. Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD, the first (and still the only) big-screen adaptations of the long-running series, were filmed in Technicolor at a time when the series itself was still filmed in black-and-white, giving Dr. Who and the Daleks the additional distinction of being the first time Doctor Who had appeared in colour. In these films, Peter Cushing played The Doctor, and the backstory and continuity established for the TV series were largely ignored.

In 1968, Amicus funded and produced a film version of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, directed by William Friedkin, who later found fame with The Exorcist.


In 2003, Anchor Bay Entertainment released a five disc DVD box-set of Amicus films in a coffin-shaped container in the U.K. 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).

Amicus Films


David Pirie A New Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema London: I.B. Tauris, 2008

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