If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
As we bow our heads during the 20th anniversary of
producer/mogul Milton Subotsky’s death (he passed away June 27, 1991), FANGORIA
celebrates the legacy of one of the most important imprints in horror, Amicus
The year 1964 saw producers Milton Subotsky and Max J.
Rosenberg embark on their second fright film, the anthology DR. TERROR’S HOUSE
OF HORRORS. It was the first of what would become their signature omnibus pictures,
and the debut of their new company, Amicus Productions—which would become
famous for making horror movies to rival those of their successful
contemporary, Hammer Films.
The producers had previously made 1961’s highly regarded
CITY OF THE DEAD (a.k.a. HORROR HOTEL) in the UK and several rock ’n’ roll
flicks in their native U.S. Subotsky had actually been trying to make DR.
TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS since 1957, when it was conceived as DR. TERROR’S
TALES OF HORROR, a two-and-a-half-hour production with six separate stories
that were to have been split up into a television series introduced by Boris
Karloff. The initial outline differs in many respects from the eventual
feature, capably directed by Oscar-winning cinematographer and Hammer regular
But before we examine DR. TERROR’s, and the impact it had on
both Amicus as a company and 1960s horror cinema, at length, let’s talk briefly
about the history of the fright anthology film. The form has its roots in the
silent period, dating from Richard Oswald’s 1919 movie TALES OF HORROR, which
adapted stories by Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson. Fritz Lang’s
1921 DESTINY, originally entitled DER MUDE TOD (THE WEARY DEATH) in Germany and
variously released as BETWEEN WORLDS and THE THREE LIGHTS, is better-known,
however. Though it’s not specifically horror, one of the main characters is
Death, and the movie is constructed to illustrate the aphorism “One cannot
escape death, but he who loses his life gains it.”
The third terror anthology was also made in Germany: Paul
Leni’s WAXWORKS (1924), in which a writer is assigned to write an essay on a
group of wax figures. While asleep, he dreams about his subjects: an obese
caliph who has an affair with the wife of a cook; Ivan the Terrible, the evil
Russian czar (played by Conrad Veidt, Cesare the somnambulist in Robert Weine’s
Expressionist classic THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI); and Jack the Ripper. In
1945, however, the omnibus chiller saw its peak with DEAD OF NIGHT, from the
UK’s Ealing Studios—one of the most enduring British pictures of the period. A
classic English ghost story whose irrevocable circular structure is intended
not to horrify but to create a haunting sense of unease that remains with the
viewer long after the credits have finished, it had a considerable influence on
Subotsky. “I always admired DEAD OF NIGHT. I thought it was a tremendous
picture,” the producer once said. “It has always been one of my favorite
movies, and I thought it would be a good idea to revive the format. I like
anthology films because I feel that in science fiction and horror, the
short-story format works better than either the novel or the novelette.”
For the whole story, pick up FANGORIA #305, on sale now. Go
here for full issue details, and here to order the issue or subscribe to the magazine!
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment