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The Amicus Collection - Blu-ray Review


5 beersHoly Hatchets!  The moving severed limbs of one deceased wife attacking the people who plotted her basement murder are all you need to see in order to believe in the IMPACT of Amicus Productions.  Chop. Chop. Chop. 

Amicus Productions made money, we are told by writer/producers Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky.  Their main competition when it came to British Horror was, of course, Hammer Films, but Amicus held their ground over the modern era.  It’s easy to see why in this new three-film-set of thrillers from Severin Films.  Grab your shovels, Horror Hounds and Gore-Gore Girls!  It’s time to dig in!

Released as The Amicus Collection, this 4-disc set is a relative goldmine of genre thrills and spills as stars Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, Britt Ekland, Patrick Magee, Stephanie Beacham, Calvin Lockhart, Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling all come out to play in a trio of remastered Amicus classics: Asylum, And Now The Screaming Starts, and The Beast Must Die!.  A bonus disc called The Vault of Amicus is also included and features about an hour of Amicus trailers all stitched together into one feature-length film.

Asylum, an anthology film that features one of my favorite (and completely bonkers) scenes in horror in which a severed head rolls up the basement stairs, begins as a rather wild version of Leopold Stokowski's arrangement of Night on Bald Mountain plays.  You know it best from Fantasia, kiddos.  Odd to begin with such an overly dramatic piece you might be thinking.  Well, it works because director Roy Ward Baker’s Asylum is exactly that: dramatic and wicked as Hell. 

Never turn your back on your patients or the people you kill, it seems.  Asylum is a place for the hopelessly insane and the young Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) believes himself to be up for the job he is being considered for but, first must here the patients stories in order to figure out whether the patients in this out-of-the-way asylum "for the incurably insane" are, in fact, crazy.  Featuring solid performances from Peter Cushing, Charlotte Rampling, and Britt Ekland, Asylum is a definite crowd-pleaser.  It was the final film written by Robert Bloch.

The second film in the collection, And Now The Screaming Starts, is not one of their portmanteau-styled films; a rarity.  It is, in and of itself, a classic-styled gothic ghost story courtesy, once again, by director Roy Ward Baker.  This time, Amicus rolls out the terror with a feature length story of newlyweds (played by Stephanie Beacham and Ian Ogilvy) who, upon entrance into a large gothic house find themselves victims of an ancient spell courtesy of one pissed off servant who was punished by the husband’s ancestors.  Not as spellbinding as Asylum, the second film still has very fine moments of gothic terror courtesy of a very engaged Herbert Lom and, of course, Cushing.

The third film, The Beast Must Die!, is currently exclusive to the set.  This film is absolutely insane in that b-movie minded genius sort of way.  It’s combination of Blaxploitation and beastly terror is absolutely amazing, making it an unforgettable mystery thriller that was put out right before Amicus closed its production doors for good. 

The Beast Must Die! is about the wealthy Tom Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) and his love for playing games.  When the film starts, he’s testing out a new security device with armed men hunting him down.  It’s for a reason and that is because his weekend plans include teaming up with Dr. Lundgren (Peter Cushing) and accusing all of his weekend guests of being a werewolf.  That’s right.  One of his friends – a diplomat (Charles Gray), a pianist (Michael Gambon), his lover (Ciaran Madden), and con artist (Tom Chadbon) – is a werewolf.

Well, there is a werewolf on the prowl.  It’s killing the security guards and the guests and, as the numbers lessen, we wonder exactly who it is that is in this cheap-ass hairy outfit.  We see the “savage” beast, too.  And, as the countdown toward the big reveal ticks nearer, we get a big ol’ narrative gimmick – you know, the kind William Castle was so fond of – and it brings us to a frightening realization about the identity of the great fanged one.  It also, hysterically, takes us completely out of the movie.  It’s okay, though.  This Blaxploitation horror flick, while interesting in its setup, is more a toothy victim of itself than anything else. 

The final exclusive film, The Vault of Amicus, is a collection of 30 or 40 Amicus trailers that have been edited into one feature-length film.  This combination of black-and-white trailers with color ones is fascinating and, as there is a commentary from the founders of Amicus Productions, add to the overall magnitude of what Amicus did for horror during its heyday.  This film is interesting in that it lays out a visual history of the production company; the good, the ugly, and the bad.  It is all represented here in an entertaining 60-minutes of rock and schlock.

This find is for the hound of horror in us all and is necessary for your continued education in horror.  Rest in pieces, Amicus.


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The Amicus Collection - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Severin Films
Available on Blu-ray - January 16, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.78:1, 1.85:1
Subtitles: English
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Four-disc set (2 BD-25, 2 BD-50)
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Severin Films outdoes itself with the fine remastering job on all of the films included here.  Presented with 1.78:1 aspect ratio, each film’s 1080P MPEG-4 AVC encode is as good as it gets.  At times, they are – especially when compared with other recently release Amicus titles – better looking than I expected.  Colors are strong and vibrant and saturated with strong hues of bursting lusciousness and an eye for details.  The sets are also incredibly detailed.  Black levels are solid and shadows, while not deep, are expressive enough.  For Amicus’ qualities, the image – and its remastering – is a good experience as dirt and debris and random scratches are at a very low level.  The sound, presented here in a good Dolby Digital Audio English 2.0 track, is adequate for the films.



See Special Features.

Special Features:

Loaded with goodies, these supplemental items definitely do not disappoint.  All the films have been newly remastered and look stunning in HD.


Two’s A Company: 1972 On-set report from BBC featuring Interviews With Producer Milton Subotsky, Director Roy Ward Baker, Actors Charlotte Rampling, James Villiers, Megs Jenkins, Art Director Tony Curtis and Production Manager Teresa Bolland

David J. Schow on Robert Bloch

Fiona Subotsky Remembers Milton Subotsky

Inside The Fear Factory with Directors Roy Ward Baker, Freddie Francis and Producer Max J. Rosenberg

Audio Commentary with Director Roy Ward Baker and Camera Operator Neil Binney

Theatrical Trailer



The Haunting Of Oakley Court – Featurette with Allan Bryce, Author of “Amicus: The Friendly Face Of Fear”, and David Flint, Author of “Ten Years Of Terror”, visit the classic horror film location

Audio Commentary with Director Roy Ward Baker and Actress Stephanie Beacham

Audio Commentary with Star Ian Ogilvy

Archive Audio Interview with Actor Peter Cushing By Denis Meikle

Horror Journalist Denis Meikle Recalls And Now The Screaming Starts – Featurette

Theatrical Trailer

Radio Spot



And Then There Were Werewolves Audio Essay By Horror Historian Troy Howarth

Audio Commentary with Director Paul Annett

Directing the Beast

Theatrical Trailer



Over An Hour of Amicus Trailers

Audio Commentary With British Horror Film Writers Kim Newman & David Flint

Phil Nutman Audio Interview with Milton Subotsky – Audio Interview With Accompanying Stills / Posters

Jonathan Sothcott Audio Interview with Max Rosenberg – Audio Interview With Accompanying Stills / Posters

Bonus Amicus TV spots


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The Amicus Collection - Blu-ray Review