Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Hammer v. Amicus

Terry Thomas? Yes, Terry Thomas.

An interesting half-hour radio documentary is available on the BBC iPlayer right now. Matthew Sweet, a knowledgeable chap, presents Houses of Horror, which looks at the success of Hammer and the way it prompted a smaller rival, Amicus, to dump the Gothic costume horror and go for something a bit more raw. Lots of interesting contributions, not least from League of Gentlemen chaps, but also from Brit horror stars.

Ingrid Pitt in The House That Dripped Blood. Guess what she's supposed to be?

It all started, apparently, because Milton Subotsky was frozen out by Hammer and created a rival production firm in a fit of pique. The result was the distinctive Amicus approach - portmanteau horror with a contemporary British setting and often using top Hammer stars like Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Ingrid Pitt. The House That Dripped Blood! Asylum! Tales from the Crypt! All very bonkers, and all great fun. Among the contributors, Stephanie Beacham is especially good value when she talks about disembodied hands that can't climb stairs and how Ian Ogilvy struggled to carry her in a wedding dress. (She was in the dress.)

Here's the link.

Alan 'Fluff' Freeman wondering about acting and stuff

Footnote - no mention of Tigon films, the neglected component of British film horror's unholy trinity. But Tigon certainly didn't lack ambition and produced a lot of watchable stuff, for my money.

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