Sunday, 3 November 2013

BOOK REVIEW: AMICUS HORRORS : TALES FROM THE FILMMAKERS CRYPT : BRIAN MCFADDEN


For many, the name Amicus doesn't really mean much of anything.  Unlike Hammer, they didn't really establish the same kind of "imprint" on the public consciousness - though they certain scored some major box office hits, thanks to lurid titles such as Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Scream and Scream Again, The House That Dripped Blood and Tales from the Crypt.


The lack of name value has probably discouraged many writers from exploring their admittedly uneven output.  Fortunately for us fans, however, author Brian McFadden was able to channel his love of all things Amicus into the Midnight Marquee Press release Amicus Horrors: Tales from the Filmmaker's Crypt.


As usual with Midnight Marquee, this offers up an affordable, attractively laid out product.  McFadden proves to be a capable writer, going through the history of the studio and offering biographical information on the studio's founders, American producers Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenberg.  There's little doubt that Rosenberg was the businessman and Subotsky the wannabe artist in this particular arrangement, and McFadden - who got to know Subotsky and was invited to observe filming on one of their last horror films, Madhouse - does a good job of detailing their differing attitudes towards films and filmmaking. 


McFadden also provides some background on many of the key actors and directors associated with Amcius' output, including major players like Chrisotpher Lee, Peter Cushing and Freddie Francis, as well as lesser known names like Maurice Denham and Elisabeth Lutyens.  The write ups aren't terribly in depth, but they provide a satisfactory thumbnail portrait of the working actors, directors, writers, composers and so forth that helped to make Amicus something special. 


The writer also spends ample time discussing the studio's various films, inevitably going in to more detail on the more popular horror titles.  As such, less popular - but no less interesting - titles like Seth Holt's Danger Route and William Friedkin's The Birthday Party do sometimes get the short shrift.  One will inevitably not always agree with the author's take on individual titles (I, for one, happen to love Scream and Scream Again without reservation) but McFadden conveys his point of view in a concise, unpretentious fashion.



Fans of Amicus and British horror in general really should give this book a try.  It may not be the definitive account of Amicus and their pictures, but it's a loving tribute with some nice images.
Troy Howarth



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