NOTE: This review was originally published in January 2006.
Finally, after over a year of promises, here it is……my review of Anchor Bays’ Amicus Collection. Firstly, the set is handsomely packaged, sharing the coffin shaped box of the Tigon Collection, and featuring a nice fold out interior and full colour booklet with liner notes. Now, the set comprises of the following films:
Dr Terrors House of Horrors
The House that Dripped Blood
And Now the Screaming Starts
The Beast must Die
Each film is on its own disc, and all have a varying degree of extras. The quality of the films is variable. Dr Terrors….. for example comes in a crisp widescreen print (seemingly mastered from a German language negative at least in part, as the credits sequence attests) with vibrant colours and great definition for a film of its age and budget. Whereas The Beast Must Die is presented in a scratchy, washed out full screen print. Taking the films as a whole, this set is great. Obvious high points are the legendary anthology Dr Terrors House of Horrors and follow up anthology The House That Dripped Blood. Amicus really hit on a formula with their anthology films, allowing them to pack films with name stars for a fraction of the cost a ‘regular’ film. Certainly, the quality died off, as Asylum shows, but they remain a much undervalued part of the ‘English Gothic’ cycle of the 1960s and 70s. The next high point for me is The Beast Must Die, where Blaxploitation and Werewolf horror meet (with a dash of The Most Deadly Game thrown in). An oft ignored minor gem in Amicus crown, methinks. The sets low point is the aforementioned Asylum, which is at the thin end of the anthology wedge. As for And Now the Screaming Starts…well, its nice little period shocker, very much in the Hammer tradition.
The extras vary with trailers, interviews, and the like. Commentaries are also available.Overall, I would recommend this set to anyone with a more than passing interest into the British horror cinema boom of the 60s and 70s.