Peter Hutchings
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The Amicus House of Horror
in Hammer and beyond
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Of all the British film companies that sought to emulate Hammer’s success in the horror genre throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, Amicus was one of the most prolific and distinctive. Between 1964 and 1974 it produced fourteen horror films; these included both portmanteau/anthology films and single-plot dramas. The predominantly British casts and settings of Amicus horrors, the presence in many of them of the British horror stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and the fact that they were all directed by British directors working with British crews in British studios suggest that Amicus should be seen as an integral part of the British horror movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Despite this, Amicus horror films have not played any significant role in the critical re-evaluation of British horror that was inaugurated by David Pirie’s groundbreaking book A Heritage of Horror in 1973. In particular, the Amicus films do not sit easily with those critical accounts that have sought to identify British horror as a purely indigenous cultural phenomenon. This chapter is therefore interested instead in the precise nature of the company’s dependence on American-sourced material and the extent to which this material is reworked within a British context of production. Such an approach can potentially highlight aspects of British horror that are obscured by those accounts which have centred on Hammer.

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Hammer and beyond

The British horror film



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