Amicus Productions

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Amicus Productions was a British film production company, based at Shepperton Studios, England,[1] active between 1962 and 1977. It was founded by American producers and screenwriters Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg.[2]


Amicus's first two films were 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 1960 horror film The City of the Dead, and Amicus went on to make a series of portmanteau horror anthologies, inspired by the Ealing Studios film Dead of Night.[3] They also made some straight thriller films, often based on a gimmicky idea.[4]

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.[5]

Portmanteau horror films[edit]

Amicus's portmanteau films included Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), directed by genre stalwart 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.[6]

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 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), emerging names (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.[7]

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.[7][8]

Other horror films[edit]

Amicus also produced some conventional mystery thriller films, such as The Skull (1965), The Deadly Bees (1966), 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 of Honey).[1][9][10]

Science fiction, espionage, drama[edit]

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 and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., are the only cinema adaptations of the series, made in colour at a time when the series itself was still in black-and-white. 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.[11][12]

Amicus also funded and produced films of other genres. Danger Route 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? [2][7][13]

Amicus Productions also produced a small number of science fiction films, with a trilogy of adaptations of several of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.[14]

After Amicus[edit]

Milton Subotsky relocated to Canada for a time and gamely 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, as did Christopher Lee. 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 released posthumously: Lawnmower Man (1992) and Sometimes They Come Back... Again (1996). Subotsky died in 1996.


In 2003, Anchor Bay Entertainment released a five disc DVD box-set of Amicus films in a coffin-shaped container in the UK.[15] 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).[7]

Amicus films[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Amicus Productions". BFI. 
  2. ^ a b "BFI Screenonline: Film Studios and Industry Bodies > Amicus Productions". 
  3. ^ Pirie 2008, p. 133.
  4. ^ "Amicus Productions – film production company - HORRORPEDIA". HORRORPEDIA. 
  5. ^ "Amicus Films". 
  6. ^ "British Horror Cinema". 
  7. ^ a b c d Will Hodgkinson. "Blood and gutsiness". the Guardian. 
  8. ^ "The House That Dripped Blood - 1970". 
  9. ^ "The Skull". BFI. 
  10. ^ "H.F. Heard". BFI. 
  11. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)". 
  13. ^ "What Became of Jack and Jill - Britmovie - Home of British Films". 
  14. ^ "Amicus and the art of the film poster". British Film Institute. 
  15. ^ "The Amicus Collection". Film @ The Digital Fix. 


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

Further reading[edit]

  • Allan Bryce (ed.). Amicus: the Studio that Dripped Blood. 

External links[edit]