Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The soullessly glossy new version of Rebecca, paid for and distributed by the soulless gloss specialists at Netflix, lives in the shadows of ghosts. There is the ghost of Daphne Du Maurier’s beloved 1938 novel, one of the pinnacles of inter-war Gothic fiction, still a widely-read classic. And there is the ghost of the 1940 […]

The most interesting thing about I, Monster, a 1971 showcase for the great Christopher Lee released by Amicus productions, is also the most baffling. Not to spoil the surprise – the film has already spoiled itself, quite thoroughly – but the film is an uncredited adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella Strange Case of […]

When people speak of Amicus Productions, what they’re really speaking of, I think, is the set of films beginning with our present subject, 1971’s The House That Dripped Blood. Between 1962 and 1970, Amicus produced 15 films on a variety of subjects, and only six of them were horror films (a number that already has […]

I would never have thought of this on my own, but now that I’ve been put in mind of it, it makes perfect sense that American International Pictures and Amicus Productions would team up together. You could never say that they occupy the same spot in their respective ecosystems, because the Hollywood and British film […]

Among those classic horror fans who are responsible for keeping its memory alive at all, Amicus Productions is first and foremost associated with its series of anthology films (or “portmanteaus”, to use the official company line), so much so that one  might suppose they never made anything else. On the contrary, the studio was awfully […]

The Deadly Bees, from 1966, isn’t really a very good movie – it’s fine. It’s got some largely good and charming moments, some dumb moments, and some aggressively bad effects. But it has a longstanding reputation for being terrible beyond words, which comes I think from two different things. First, credited screenwriter Robert Bloch had […]

From 1961 through around 1968-ish, if you were a commercial movie studio and you had literally any presence in the horror/thriller markets, at some point you were going to make your own version of Psycho. There’s simply nothing else to it: Alfred Hitchcock’s grimy little quickie about murder, sexual psychosis, and fucking around with the […]

It of course doesn’t describe every one of the studio’s 28 features, not even most of them, but I think there’s a fairly clear platonic ideal of an Amicus Productions film: a horror anthology, directed by Freddie Francis, with a script adapted from the work of author Robert Bloch, starring Peter Cushing. 1965’s The Skull, […]

Amicus Productions was only around a short time, from 1962 to 1977, and it produced a fairly small number of features, 28 in total (one of which it sold off rather than distribute under its own name). Despite this, it has one of the strongest reputations in the history of British genre film production. Of […]

On paper, The Personal History of David Copperfield does everything right. The first feature film adaptation of Charles Dickens’s 1849-’50 novel in a half century is both clearly in love with the source material (just check out that title, which at least reminds us that most Dickens novels technically have much longer names than we […]

This October, I’ll be working my way through several of the films made by Amicus Productions, the second-most-beloved British horror film specialists of the 1960s and ’70s. First up, though, is the film that was an Amicus film before Amicus existed. The film industries of the United Kingdom and the United States have always been […]

We arrive now at the only time that the Oscar for Best Picture been awarded to a single piece of music. For if there’s any other explanation for how Chariots of Fire took the top prize at the Academy Awards for 1981, I’m god-damned if I know what it might be. Nomination leader and Best […]