The Houses That Dripped Blood
June 8, 2015 3:29 PM   Subscribe

The BBC's Matthew Sweet explores the gruesome and wildly productive rivalry between two greats of UK horror: A half hour of satisfying radio for anyone who ever stayed up late (or searched, mostly in vain, through a local video store) for "Curse of Frankenstein" or "Vault of Horror":

From the program description:

Hammer was the most successful British film company of all time but, throughout its heyday in the 60s and 70s, it did battle with a much smaller, poorer, creative, upstart rival - Amicus films. Amicus was a small British horror studio that pioneered the much loved 'portmanteau' picture, such as Tales of the Crypt and Vault of Horror - each movie a composite of four or five short stories, whose connection is revealed at the end.

Horror aficionado and film buff Matthew Sweet explores the productive rivalry between the two contenders for the heart and soul of British horror, in a blood-curdling tale of low budget, gore spattered one-upmanship that's full of chilling atmosphere and fun.


Amicus Productions on YouTube:

"Dr. Terror's House of Horrors" (1965)
"The House That Dripped Blood" (1971)
"Tales from the Crypt" (1972)
"And Now the Screaming Starts" (1973)
"The Beast Must Die" (1974)

Hammer Films on YouTube (a wildly subjective "best of"):

"Horror of Dracula" (1958)
"Plague of the Zombies" (1966)
"Quartermass and the Pit" (1967)
"The Devil Rides Out" (1968)

Further reading:
Blood and Gutsiness: The Extraordinary Story of Amicus Studios
The Horror Vault: A History of Hammer Studios
posted by ryanshepard (17 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love Devil Rides Out a lot. Great post; a lot to delve into here.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:11 PM on June 8, 2015


Huh. I always thought The Beast Must Die (which gave the world the werewolf break) was a Hammer production.
posted by dortmunder at 4:26 PM on June 8, 2015


I always thought The Beast Must Die (which gave the world the werewolf break) was a Hammer production.

As pointed out in the documentary, the waters get muddy after "Dracula A.D. 1972", Hammer's hilariously ill-advised venture into then-modern Britain. Before that, if it wasn't "Middle Europe recreated on a back lot in Slough", you could often be reasonably sure it was a Amicus picture.
posted by ryanshepard at 4:33 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hammer and Amicus both owe a lot to Ealing's horror anthology feature Dead of Night from 1945. (Amicus also owes Ealing's Train of Events to a lesser extent.)
posted by infinitewindow at 4:47 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


the werewolf break

Felt like it needed more Carol Vorderman.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:51 PM on June 8, 2015


I love Lee and Cushing, but I watched Horror of Dracula a while ago, and it was pretty funny to hear Peter's feet clomp, clomp, clomping as he dashed up the plywood stairway in that 400 year old castle.
posted by Trochanter at 5:19 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


It kind of amazes me how lush the sets for some of the Hammer films are. They're pretty entertaining and I think they have aged rather well.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 5:50 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have so much love for the Amicus anthologies.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:12 PM on June 8, 2015


Hammer fans may also enjoy: Panic on the Trans-Siberian Express
TrailerFull Movie English HD - YouTube
posted by 0rison at 7:53 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love Devil Rides Out a lot. Great post; a lot to delve into here.

Yes, but I have to suppress my urge to tell Satan to take "just a jump to the left."
posted by jonp72 at 8:28 PM on June 8, 2015


I've got to admit I'm on team Amicus... Hammer films just seem so slow now. And Amicus had some truely bonkers ideas - not too long ago I watched Tales That Witness Madness with one of the stories about a guy falling in love with a tree to the immense annoyance of his wife Joan Collins.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:50 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hammer was (fairly) recently resurrected, and has produced a couple of decent things (the US Let Me In and The Lady in Black), and one low-budget film I thought was pretty great, and in the tradition of British horror from the 70s (you'll notice spiritual connections to both The Wicker Man and Don't Look Now), namely Wake Wood, which also happens to star Aidan Gillen, aka. TV's Littlefinger.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:25 AM on June 9, 2015


It just gets a brief mention in the radio program but I'd definitely recommend the tv series Hammer House of Horror - I did a post of it a while back. The series (may be due to budget) was actually fairly Amicus like with it's stories set in modern times, having some decent actors and being pretty nasty and vicious for telly
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:20 AM on June 9, 2015


the werewolf break

Felt like it needed more Carol Vorderman.
posted by Wolfdog


Eponysterical? (as my horror chops extend to being a Carry On Screaming fan and that I thought Vincent Price was a menswear label from the 60s, I think this is the better Werewolf Break.)
posted by Devonian at 7:55 AM on June 9, 2015


Orison, I actually own a DVD of "Horror Express." Both Cushing and Lee are brilliant in it, especially Lee. And it's got Telly Savalas in it, as a Cossack!
posted by nikitabot at 8:01 AM on June 9, 2015


It kind of amazes me how lush the sets for some of the Hammer films are. They're pretty entertaining and I think they have aged rather well.

Love the sets, love the old school colour process. I find the lighting a bit pedestrian.
posted by Trochanter at 8:41 AM on June 9, 2015


It's funny how I remember many of these in black and white. But that's because my brother and I probably first saw them on a black and white TV on a Friday night.
posted by Splunge at 9:27 AM on June 9, 2015


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