During a 10 year period from the mid 1960’s to the mid 1970’s the Amicus studios really gave the famed Hammer studios a run for its money in the horror stakes, not as well remembered these days (although the fantastic League of Gentlemen have done a fair amount to spread the Amicus word) the studio produced a great line in Portmanteau horror as well as some scary full length features. Their movies starred some of the biggest name in Horror including the likes of Ingrid Pitt and legends Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
DR TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS from 1965 really put the studio on the map, starring Peter Cushing its five short tales linked by a strange old man telling the fortunes of five men in a railway carriage, a very interesting cast lifts it above the norm and it features appearances by Roy Castle of Record Breakers, 60’s singer Kenny Lynch, the legendary Bernard Lee and even a young Donald Sutherland.
THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD from 1970 is another quartet of spooky stories linked by a house that appears to have murderous intent. One of the best of the Amicus movies with its script by Robert Bloch of Psycho fame and featuring a great cast including the ever present Cushing and Lee as well as Ingrid Pitt, Jon Pertwee, Nyree Dawn Porter and Denholm Elliott.
ASYLUM comes from 1972 and sees a young Robert Powell interviewing the inmates of an insane asylum to try and find out which of the patients was once its director; again it’s a portmanteau effort of short and generally gruesome stories and again with a top notch cast including the sexy Britt Ekland, Charlotte Rampling, Barbara Parkins, Sylvia Syms, Barry Morse, Geoffrey Bayldon and Patrick Magee.
1973’s AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS is pure seventies all the way, groovy set design, flares ago-go and a classic Rebecca style story of a new bride being haunted by the house’s own past. This clever ghost story is headlined once again by Peter Cushing but Stephanie Beacham is the real lead along with TV’s Saint Ian Olgivy.
THE BEAST MUST DIE is from 1974 and is the final movie in this set, it’s an Agatha Christie bump off all the guests one by one style flick with an intriguing gimmick of stopping the movie for a “guess who” break near the end and despite its mystery premise still finds time to give us a werewolf as one of the leads. Cushing is on hand once again as is the magisterial Charles Gray, a youngish Michael Gambon and Anton Diffring.