No film made by Amicus, the only real rival to Hammer Films, ever lost money. Its horror pictures were popular at the time but attempts to release them on VHS in the 80s and 90s met with poor sales. It is therefore quite an undertaking that five classics from the studio have now been released onto a striking limited edition coffin case containing five DVDs stuffed with extra features.
While Amicus did make full length horror movies, its most fondly remembered and enjoyable productions were its portmanteau-style films. Dr Terror's House Of Horrors and The House That Dripped Blood are on individual DVD sale as well being included in the boxset. They've been reviewed separately.
Creaking back the coffin lid, the remaining three discs all come with audio commentaries, cast and crew filmographies, and photo galleries. The films boast good widescreen transfers with minimal print damage and optional 5.1 sound mixes (although we favour the clear mono tracks instead).
A true classic amongst the Amicus anthologies, Asylum stars Robert Powell. He arrives at an asylum for the insane with the promise of a job if he can guess which one of the deranged patients is the head doctor of the facility. The well-stocked disc includes an audio commentary with director Roy Ward Baker, in which he talks entertainingly about his long career in horror movies. Plus there's an all-new featurette including an interview with Amicus head Max J Rosenberg, who reveals a little about his relationship with his legendary co-producer Milton Subotsky.
The Beast Must Die
If you wondered if one of your mates was a werewolf, would you invite them all to stay over for the weekend to find out who it was? That's what happens in the fun The Beast Must Die, and in the audio commentary director Paul Annett discusses the classic problem of making a werewolf look good. Paul also turns up in a new making of featurette, where he tells affectionate anecdotes of working with Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.
And Now The Screaming Starts
Stephanie Beacham soon regrets getting hitched into the cursed Fengriffen family (complete with crawling severed hand), but she's not half as cross as she is to begin with on the audio commentary with Roy Ward Baker. Both express extreme displeasure at the garish title of the movie which was imposed by Max Rosenberg. Once over that, the two really get stuck into revealing facts about the making of the film in an entertaining commentary that is easily better than track two with Ian Ogilvy.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.