Sunday, 31 March 2013

Amicus: House of Horrors | Celebrating the history of the legendary UK film company

Did you know that Vincent Price went to a football match with the crew of Scream and Scream Again; that he was given saucy sex toys as a joke during the Madhouse wrap party, and that while filming The Monster Club he entertained the producer’s children wearing vampire fangs?

Well, these and many other anecdotes form the basis of AMICUS: HOUSE OF HORRORS, a two-part celebration of the British film company that was Hammer’s rival in the late 1960s and 1970s. The name, Amicus, may not be memorable, but the film titles most certainly are - especially the portmanteau films that the company excelled at, like Tales from the Crypt, Asylum and From Beyond the Grave.

Founded in the early 1960s by maverick American producers Milton Subotsky and Max J Rosenberg, Amicus made around 30 films in 20 years, turning out eight a year at their peak, and drew together a wealth of British talent, including directors Freddie Francis and Roy Ward Baker, writers Robert Bloch (of Psycho fame) and actors such as Peter Cushing, Diana Dors and Donald Pleasance, to create some of the most memorable homegrown horrors.

This documentary features interviews with a vast array of people who worked behind the scenes – from directors Peter Duffell (House that Dripped Blood) and Kevin Connor (The Land That Time Forgot), art director Tony Curtis (who shows off his personal collection of sketch designs) and producer John Dark, to the make-up assistants and supporting actors who all share some amazing stories.

While Vincent Price appeared in just three Amicus films, Peter Cushing starred in 15, and gave some of his most memorable performances, especially in Doctor Who and the Daleks and Tales from the Crypt. Included as an extra on this release is a never-before-seen 1983 interview with Cushing, conducted by a young 20-year-old fan at the star’s home in Kent, and a wonderful 1990 interview (filmed just four years before his death) in which Cushing talks about his love for his late wife Helen (who died in 1971), and shares memories of his childhood, his beliefs and his love of art. This being the year of Cushing’s centenary makes these bonus items especially poignant.

Amicus: House of Horror has been a labor of love for life-long fan Derek Pykett, who so deserves his Best Documentary nomination for a 2013 Rondo Award. It may not be slickly edited and the quality variable, but the anecdotes contained here are priceless. The DVD is currently only available (region free) in the US, but I highly recommend seeking it out. Click here to order from Amazon in the UK, or here if you are in the US.

If you'd like to nominate Amicus: House of Horror for a Rondo Award, click here to find out how.

To coincide with Cushing's centenary, Peveril Publishing will be bringing out The Peter Cushing Scrapbook this Spring. Click here to view some sample pages. 

Below, you can watch the trailer for Scream and Scream Again, and some vintage UK TV reports on Madhouse and The Monster Club:

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

We Belong Dead, the UK fanzine dedicated to classic horror, is back from the dead

 WE BELONG DEAD, the UK magazine devoted to the classic age of horror and fantasy films, is being resurrected after 16 years.

Available from Thursday (28 March), issue nine is packed with articles that will have classic horror fans shivering with delight as they bring back fond memories of films like Twins of Evil, Witchfinder General, Night of the Demon, Tombs of the Blind Dead and Salem’s Lot

There also exclusive interviews with horror icons Barbara Shelley and the late Jean Rollin, an in-depth look at Peter Cushing’s Amicus roles and an hilarious alternative look at Hammer’s Dracula films. Plus, for aging Monster Kids (like me), there’s a wonderful nostalgic feature on the Aurora monster model kits of the 1960s.

The best thing about this horror fanzine is that is written by fans for fans, so it cuts to the chase with some very original and entertaining articles. I’ve just started on my copy and I can’t put it down (except to write this blurb, of course). I’ll be posting a full review soon.

To order a copy, contact Eric McNaughton at:

• And why not check out the WE BELONG DEAD Facebook page.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Watch Reece Shearsmith introduce Theatre of Blood

If you are still smarting over not being able to attend the BFI screening of Theatre of Blood in early March, here's a chance to watch Reece Shearsmith give his illuminating introduction in full.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Vincent Price lets rip a few swear words in Bloodbath at the House of Death

I've never been a fan of the 1983 horror spoof Bloodbath at the House of Death, which is showing tonight on The Horror Channel in the UK (Sky 319, Virgin 149), but I couldn't help but laugh at this Tumblr entry that I stumbled on, featuring Vincent Price as The Sinister Man cursing... Don't you just love the internet? Just click on the picture to reveal all.

Friday, 8 March 2013

'Lionheart is Immortal' | Theatre of Blood at London's BFI | Review

On Wednesday 6 March 2013, British comedy actor Reece Shearsmith introduced the film that inspired him – 1973's Theatre of Blood at the NFT1 at London's BFI Southbank, revealing that he was once given a T-shirt from his The League of Gentlemen collaborator Steve Pemberton (who was also a fan of the film) with the lines 'Lionheart is Immortal' written on it.

It was a real treat to see the classic on the big screen in 35mm, even though the Park Circus print had been around the block a few times (there were frames missing and the colour was a muddy shade of brown in most places). But that only added to the nostalgic feel of the whole event, and it certainly didn't matter to the audience, most of whom had never seen the film before.

The fact the audience laughed in all the right places was testament to Anthony Greville-Bell's witty script, Douglas Hickox's knowing direction (members of his family were also in attendance) and Vincent's spot-on performance. And wasn't I grinning from ear to ear when the audience gave the film a huge round of applause as the curtain came down on Vincent's vengeful Edward Lionheart (read his best lines here)? I also found out that I'm not the only one to be the proud owner of the Lionheart action figure.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Witchfinder General producer Arnold Miller at The Cinema Museum in London on 16 March

On Saturday 16 March, The Cinema Museum in south London pays homage to the career of film director, producer and writer Arnold Miller, who is probably best known for the exploitation titles he made in association with the companies Compton Raw (1964) and Primitive London (1965) and Tigon The Blood Beast Terror (1967) and Witchfinder General (1968).

Doors open at 1.30pm for a 2.30pm start. Check out the Facebook event page here. For tickets (click here).

Monday, 4 March 2013

Vincent Price takes on Errol Flynn in 1951's Adventures of Captain Fabian

On TCM UK (Sky 317, Virgin 415) tonight at 7pm, there's a screening of the 1951 melodrama Adventures of Captain Fabian.

For an indepth look at the history of Errol Fynn's poorly-received actioner, check out this interesting article on the Errol Flynn Blog.

• next showing on TCM 4 March 2013, 7pm