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Amicus's first two films were musicals for the teenage market, It's Trad, Dad! (1962) and Just for Fun (1963). Prior to Amicus being created 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 .1 They also made some straight thriller films, often based on a gimmicky idea.
Amicus's horror and thriller films are sometimes mistaken for the output of the better-known Hammer Film Productions, 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, Amicus productions were usually set in the present day (as Vincent Price's character says in The Monster Club, this means a "lower budget").
Amicus's portmanteau films included 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 (1972), Asylum (1972), Vault of Horror (1973), From Beyond the Grave (1974), and The Monster Club (1980). 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 composed 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), 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.
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.
Amicus also produced some conventional mystery thriller films, such as The Skull (1965), The Deadly Bees (1966), And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973), 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, and the adaptation of The Deadly Bees (based upon H. F. Heard's A Taste of Honey).
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 "Doctor Who", a human scientist rather than an alien, with Who as his actual surname, ignoring the backstory of the TV series.
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?
In 2003, Anchor Bay Entertainment released a five disc DVD box-set of Amicus films in a coffin-shaped container in the UK. 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).
- It's Trad, Dad! (1962)
- Just for Fun (1963)
- Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1964)
- Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)
- The Skull (1965)
- Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. (1966)
- The Psychopath (1966)
- The Deadly Bees (1966)
- Torture Garden (1967)
- Danger Route (1967)
- They Came from Beyond Space (1967)
- The Terrornauts (1967)
- The Birthday Party (1968)
- A Touch of Love (1969)
- The Mind of Mr. Soames (1969)
- The House That Dripped Blood (1970)
- I, Monster (1971)
- What Became of Jack and Jill? (1971)
- Asylum (1972)
- Tales from the Crypt (1972)
- The Vault of Horror (1973)
- From Beyond the Grave (1973)
- And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973)
- The Beast Must Die (1974)
- Madhouse (1974)
- The Land That Time Forgot (1974)
- At the Earth's Core (1976)
- The People That Time Forgot (1977)
- The Monster Club (1980)
- Pirie 2008, p. 133.
- Pirie, David (2008). A New Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema. London: I. B. Tauris.
- Allan Bryce (ed.). Amicus: the Studio that Dripped Blood.