Monday, October 31, 2022

Hammer Versus Amicus: Battle of Britain's Blood-Dripping Studios

Gothic horror has several primary ingredients that goes into making a successful formula. A spooky castle steeped in ancient legends; a thick atmosphere of fog, a full moon, and a howling wolf or two; shapely women in diaphanous gowns; a folkloric creature or supernatural entity of some kind; and oftentimes a spectacular fire that brings the house down at the end. 
The films of Hammer excelled in this kind of cinema for over a decade. The United States, Italy, Germany and Japan did their own Gothic offerings in various capacity. Other than the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations from Roger Corman and American International Pictures, the British and other European countries owned the largest share of the traditional monster movie market. Outside of Hammer, there was one primary rival in Great Britain, and that was Amicus Productions.
Hammer Films had over a 25 year start on Amicus. The former was founded by Brits William Hinds and James Carreras; the latter by Americans Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenberg. Both companies had hits and misses, triumphs and struggles; and key to their longevity well after Hammer and Amicus folded were two men--Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. (Lee and Cushing in  1973s THE CREEPING FLESH, a film for another, smaller company named Tigon)
The marketing of these films in America was oftentimes creative genius--even if all the trouble studios went through to sell the product didn't always translate to big box office. The William Castle-style gimmicks and showmanship though, was sometimes as big, if not bigger, than the films themselves.
Hammer's most famous export genre came to US shores in the form of 1957s THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Resurrecting the old B/W Universal horrors a decade after they'd been buried, filmmakers and distributors were now proclaiming, "It's alive!" as those spooky beings lived again; this time in blood-curdling color. Marquees for Warner's acquisition read, "A new concept in horror pictures". A top hit for the year, CURSE was everything people were saying about it.
Warner Brothers had previously enjoyed a massive horror hit with the 3D spectacle, HOUSE OF WAX (1953) starring Vincent Price; a remake of the company's own 1933 horror film, MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM. The 1953 version's major selling point was its filming in three-dimensions and the ballyhoo surrounding its making and how the actors worked within that curious photographic technique. Vincent Price proclaimed, "It takes a new medium like three-dimensions to give us new life and zest"
Warner's Hammer investment would likewise breath new life into the company, and the genre in general. Warner's had genius, yet simple, promotion for the ghoulish Franken flick. Ads pleaded with patrons, "Please Try Not To Faint"; and stated the film is "Not Recommended For People of Nervous Disposition". Probably the best example of CURSE's monster movie publicity was a Frankenstein's Monster mask for the kids, the target audience.

William Castle was the leading proponent for elaborate movie gimmicks whose usage as a box office selling point largely evaporated by the dawn of the 1970s. Whether it was nurses and hearses; buzzers attached to theater seats; cardboard axes handed out to patrons; or skeletons on strings soaring over them, Castle's carnival barker enhancements were all in good fun and were likely best appreciated by the young and the young at heart portion of the paying audience. (Insert: a nurse and her patient test out the buzzer chair for THE TINGLER)

Regardless of the marketing tools used to sell it, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN was a major success. Key to its popularity both inside and outside Britain were the performances of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and the stunningly high production values Hammer offered on limited means.
From there, it was assured there would be more Hammer Horror to come, and it did. HORROR OF DRACULA (1958) and THE MUMMY (1959) further reinvigorated the old B/W Universal Horrors in blood-red color; making the old new yet again. From CURSE to the HORROR and on to THE MUMMY, each film was more successful than the last. This terror-fueled trio was likewise integral to the gradual evolution of on-screen violence and bodily titillation. For over a decade, Hammer had the luxury of major studio distribution till changing times and audience tastes towards stronger scenes of sex and violence made their once controversial bloodletting seem tame in comparison.
In their prime, Hammer's horror movies seized a massive chunk of the global market that inspired others to make Gothic horrors of their own. And so came two enterprising Americans who wanted in on the action US studios were importing. 

Despite being made by Vulcan Productions, 1960s CITY OF THE DEAD is often referred to as the first Amicus picture due to it being produced by the duo that founded the company. It was also set in the USA but filmed in the UK. Something of a troubled production, both Subotsky and Rosenberg kept costs down by filming in B/W. The film featured neither Dracula or resurrected corpses, but a coven of witches and devil-worshipers in Massachusetts sworn to vengeance for centuries. The atmosphere-rich, monochrome photography makes the movie look superbly eerie in a way shooting in color would have diluted. 
Adding greatly to the ambiance was the participation of Christopher Lee. Having acted in heavy makeup in three massive Hammer hits, he was now a primary villain in a B/W horror picture about vengeful witches. Despite Lee in the cast, it was a failure in Britain. CITY was picked up for US release in 1961 by Trans-Lux Distribution (they brought Japanese anime SPEED RACER to America) and re-titled as HORROR HOTEL. 
The marketing was standard if not macabre fun. Theaters were enticed with giving away "Horror Hotel Keys"; using coffins with tape recorders inside; Funhouse mirrors; and soap that turns your hands red like blood when you use it. 
Not making a splash in the US either, it did have fantastically ghoulish poster artwork by famed comic book artist Jack Davis. The film did attain a healthy cult following over the years, becoming one of the best-regarded Euro-horrors.

Putting the two establishments side by side, Hammer was far more prolific, with much more polished features compared to their competitor. Neither studio had claim to their talent pools as it wasn't unusual to see major Hammer players like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee working for the competition. Both companies had signature looks to their pictures; even the musical scores were distinctive. You could always tell if you were watching a Hammer movie or one from Amicus. (Insert: Lee and Cushing between takes on 1973s THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA)

At any rate, while Hammer got a huge start on Amicus in securing rights to popular, long-established horror characters of the 1930s and 1940s, the smaller, rival company managed to dominate in one unique area.

Prior to their initially, and wildly successful horror outings, Hammer dabbled in Science Fiction with the Quatermass series; those being THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955), QUATERMASS 2 (1957) and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967), the most popular of the three. Hammer also produced another similar picture in the vein of the Nigel Kneale written BBC television series-turned theatrical hits; that being X THE UNKNOWN (1956). 

Amicus's attempt at SciFi came the same year they made their name as the leader of the horror omnibus. The former was a Subotsky-written, big-screen adaptation of the enormously successful television series, DR. WHO. Titled DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS (1965), it was the first time the good doctor was seen in color. While the first two Hammer Quatermass movies had American Brian Donlevy in the lead, Amicus had Peter Cushing as Who in the picture. He returned for the sequel, DALEKS INVASION EARTH 2150 AD (1966). However, one of these was marketed in an American style to hide its British origins; while the other was sold as-is.
The Quatermass series was very popular in its native England, but US companies were hesitant to acquire them since they were an unknown commodity. Incidentally, with some editing, a new title (THE CREEPING UNKNOWN), marketing in the tradition of the 1950s SciFi monster epics, and acting as the support feature to the star-studded and under-rated spooker THE BLACK SLEEP (1956), United Artists had a hit on their hands. 
The same couldn't be said for the US release of DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS. "Dr. Who?" was what American audiences were saying in regards to the Tardis-piloting Time Lord. Like its Hammer antecedents, Amicus's DR. WHO movie was paired with another picture, sometimes SciFi of Japanese heritage. Despite a big push to introduce the characters to American audiences with Variety ads ("This summer the Daleks will conquer America!") and a Dell comic book, there was little US interest in Who at the time. As a result, the sequel never saw distribution in America. It took several years, but foreign shores simply weren't ready for the British SciFi series at the time.
With Science Fiction, the British-run company had the edge over their American-owned counterpart. However, Subotsky and Rosenberg were soon to return fire with some new ideas that Hammer seemed to brush off, but would make major studios take notice in the States.
When it came to horror, there really was zero competition for Hammer when most of the major American companies were swooping in to license their films for US distribution. Amicus did have some success here, but not on the level of the much bigger House of Horrors. Hammer had the big names like Dracula and Frankenstein, so Amicus had to rely on creating and or adapting stories about vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night, as well as human monsters. Still, the one area that Amicus held sway and found fame was in the portmanteau realm.
Milton Subotsky was a fan of the classic anthology, DEAD OF NIGHT (1945), even writing the stories in 1948 that eventually made up the 1965 Amicus hit, DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS. Starring Hammer regulars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, Amicus made Cushing a supernatural villain of divine retribution while keeping Lee in a capacity of a shady, ultimately murderous character. Even with a good roster of stars and Freddie Francis in the director's chair, Amicus's unique color horror spectacular was awfully rough around the edges. Even so, it was a hit for the company insofar as it was a guarantee more of the same was coming soon to a theater near you.
In a curious bit of inadvertent crossing of crafts, Subotsky claimed he had originally taken his DR. TERROR'S script to Hammer several years before it was actually made. Hammer eventually decided not to make it over budgetary reasons. Subotsky had also written a script for Hammer's THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) that was ultimately re-written by Jimmy Sangster.  (Top: Milton Subotsky, director Paul Annett, Max J. Rosenberg)
Paramount released DR. TERROR in America, and likewise handled distribution of THE SKULL (1965), the best non-anthology horror picture in Amicus's history. Amicus movies sometimes looked like they were shot in cramped spaces with an air of cheapness about them. THE SKULL was the company's BRIDES OF DRACULA in terms of polish and set decor. There are lots of props and locations past and present that make the movie look bigger than it actually is. 
As for the two titles, the company didn't go all out on promotion as others had done, but offered a giant-sized DR, TERROR standee and a Tabloid Herald to pass around to attract patrons. Paramount put a little more energy behind THE SKULL's promotion, offering up skull rings and ideas for scream contests and local radio stations interviewing patrons about their viewing experience with the Skull of the Marquis De Sade.
Amicus had the benefit of Paramount for a few more pictures: THE PSYCHOPATH (1966) was an attempt to snatch some box office dollars from any of the roster of psycho thrillers being made at Hammer. Paramount really came through on the promotion, though. Then there was THE DEADLY BEES (1966), a mediocre killer bees flick with very little sting. 
Paramount eventually ended their relationship with Amicus, leaving the door open for Columbia Pictures to distribute the least of the company's anthology pictures. TORTURE GARDEN (1967) had the usual four stories-plus wraparound segment. It was also anguish to sit through. Only the last segment with Cushing and Jack Palance is worth remembering. 
At the end, Burgess Meredith is revealed to be the Devil, but it's hard to see him as anything other than The Penguin from his appearances on BATMAN (1966-1968) with the top hat and cigarette holder. 
For participating theaters, Fright Seeds were handed out to customers to plant their own "Torture Garden" at home. This was a good bit of promotion and how wildly horrific would it have been if something terrifying did indeed grow out of them? Plant at your own risk!

While Hammer had their in-house writers, a number of Amicus's movies were elevated by the pen of famed, award-winning author Robert Bloch; whether sourced from his original works or new ones written by him. Arguably, the zenith of Bloch's five films for the company came in the form of THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1971). It was a perfect melding of scares and goosebumpery with a bit of humorous horror happenings in the final segment. One of, if not the best, of the Amicus Omnibus, Cinerama Releasing Corporation handled US distribution. Next to TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972), it has the strongest following.
ASYLUM (1972) was reportedly successful in the UK, but less so in the USA. The Paramount-Universal co-founded company Cinema International Corporation handled its distribution on British soil while Cinerama released it in the US. It has its fans but it's mostly medium-level entertainment with a particularly good sting in the wraparound segment. (Patrick Magee in ASYLUM)
Easily the most famous movie from Amicus became an award-winning cable series in the 1990s. Based on the infamous EC Comics of the 1950s, Amicus licensed the 'Tales From the Crypt' property from William Gaines and produced what is considered by many to be the finest anthology to come out of Amicus. The first feature film presentation for major league media company Metromedia Producers Corporation (MPC), Cinerama again distributed the movie in the United States.

TALES was such a success that Amicus produced a sequel, THE VAULT OF HORROR (1973). There were some good taglines with "Death Lives Again!" and "Below the Crypt Lies the Vault of Horror: Death's Waiting Room". Gaines wasn't happy with the humor injected into the script or much of anything else, and audiences didn't take to the film either. It's not as bad as its reputation suggests, though. 

FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1974) was the company's last portmanteau feature. It was a step up from VAULT and a better mix of black humor and horror, but not nearly as gruesome. Since Christopher Lee had been done with Amicus for a few years, Peter Cushing is around for added marquee value. He plays a character not far removed from the one he played in DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS. He began Amicus's series of anthologies as a spectral avenger and ends them as one as well. 
Since Robert Bloch was no longer associated with Amicus, Subotsky and Rosenberg adapted the tales from the short stories of R. Chetwynd-Hayes; an author whom Subotsky would revisit again for his THE MONSTER CLUB (1981) production starring Vincent Price, John Carradine, and others in a very silly, but mildly entertaining anthological experiment. FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE was also the first directing gig for Kevin Connor who would work for Amicus a few more times.
The short-subject horror film was the one major area where Amicus had an edge over Hammer in the company's existence. For whatever reason, Hammer never attempted an omnibus as a full-length feature film. They stuck with Dracula and Frankenstein long after the box office was anemic; and carried on even after they lost much of their overseas major studio distro in the early 1970s. And even after Dracula showed signs of thinning blood at the box office, the company changed course to other vampire stories with a heavier accent on breasts and blood. (Chris Lee and Jenny Hanley in 1970s SCARS OF DRACULA)
Among the best of these was VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1971). Even with a fantastic and original horror movie plot and inordinate amounts of action and the most spry and agile vampires yet, the film did little for the company's finances. 20th Century Fox released it in America in 1972 and severely edited the stronger than usual gore and higher than normal sexual content for a PG rating of all things. Thankfully, time has been extremely kind to the movie over the years.
Hammer did change things up even during their 60s heyday with films like THE GORGON (1964), PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966) and THE REPTILE (1966). All three of these share kinship with the established Dracula formula. Curses, resurrection of the dead, mind control, lethal bites and or the draining of life, and evil assuming human form. They simply replaced Dracula with a new monster.
Columbia handled the first title (paired with Hammer's CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB) and 20th Century Fox took the other two (along with Hammer's DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS and RASPUTIN, THE MAD MONK). Fox paired the long-awaited Dracula sequel with Hammer's sole zombie excursion. Since Christopher Lee as Dracula had been a monster smash, the sequel was certain to be a bloody bonanza. For these double-decker horrors, Columbia handed out monster stamps while Fox's promotion offered vampire fangs and zombie eyes for giveaways in theaters.
Then there was the Lee-less BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960) and THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE (1962). These two were curious deviations from the company's global smash starring Christopher Lee as DRACULA (1958). Lee wanted to expand his resume and sought out other roles that didn't involve being covered in heavy makeup. BRIDES is arguably the most sumptuous looking picture in Hammer's history; while KISS is an unusual mix of suspense, sorcery and vampirism. Hammer wouldn't attempt a non-Dracula movie again till 1970. Elsewhere, Amicus, surprisingly enough, never did a full-blooded vampire movie.
Lycanthropy is another variation on vampires, and its popular lore was explored by Hammer only once in 1961s CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF. It's a classy movie in every way, emboldened by a fantastic lead portrayal by Oliver Reed. Sadly, it didn't bring in the level of box office receipts in its homeland or via Universal-International's theatrical issuance in America where it was paired with Hammer's B/W spooker SHADOW OF THE CAT from the same year.
Amicus's two attempts at werewolves were less polished and monetarily impoverished compared to the sole Hammer outing. However, while one was the first segment in DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1965), the other was a full-length feature based on James Blish's short story, 'There Shall Be No Darkness'. A bit of 'Ten Little Indians' and 'The Most Dangerous Game' with a werewolf inserted into it (well, a dog with some additional hair pieces attached), the film further differentiated itself from the rest of the pack with a touch of black action style and horror. 
There's also this gimmick you'll either love or hate, 'The Werewolf Break'. The film pauses and the viewer is given 30 seconds to decide who the werewolf is before they reveal its identity. This was Amicus's last horror movie and another Cinerama release in America. Largely forgotten till the age of DVD's, it's an intriguing, if terribly low budgeted movie in the Amicus catalog.
Outside of anthologies, Amicus were consistent in their piggybacking off any Hammer hits or anything that deviated from the norm. One of Hammer's unique offerings was THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL (1960). The second of three Jekyll pictures the company made (the first was the 1959 comedy THE UGLY DUCKLING), it’s a surprisingly sexual film for its time and was critically lambasted, It wasn't a success for them, nor for AIP who released it here under the unrelated title of HOUSE OF FRIGHT. 
In 1970, they attempted the Robert Louis Stevenson story a third time in the equally unusual DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE. Here, the young Jekyll's (played by Ralph Bates) serum-induced evil alter-ego is a woman (played by Martine Beswicke). The sexuality was once again cranked up for this one, in a script that included elements of Burke and Hare and Jack the Ripper.
Amicus tried their hand at the material with I, MONSTER (1971). They were even being ambitious by starting (and hoping to finish) the film as a 3D picture. With the process too complicated and expensive to maneuver, the 3D was abandoned. A failure at the time, it's of interest to Cushing and Lee fans. I, MONSTER (1971) ranks as a lesser film from the company and of the Gothic style altogether. 
The difference between the Hammer and Amicus Jekyll/Hyde interpretations is, unlike the Amicus version, Hammer didn't visualize a monstrous man with makeup effects; they made him (and her) attractive on the outside, but evil on the inside. Ironically, Hammer's takes on the tale were the superior efforts.
By the 1970s, the gimmicks and PR stunts to get people into theaters faded with reliance towards less costly measures like the usual newspaper ads and eye-catching poster designs. It would be fascinating to find out if there was any increase in ticket sales due to the elaborate promotional stunts and how frequently theaters used them and the percentage by region.

Both Hammer and Amicus were in trouble in 1974. The former were still toiling away on what worked for them ten years earlier; only it wasn't working for them now. Even collaborations with Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers and a mix of swashbuckling and bloodsucking did little but keep Hammer on life support a few more years. Held in high regard today, these films were appreciated by only the most dedicated fans. 
George Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) aided in transforming horror into an even more grueling phase. Other films like I DRINK YOUR BLOOD (1970), THE EXORCIST (1973) and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) made Hammer and Amicus pictures appear as quaint as the Universal Horrors that had influenced them.
While over at Amicus, after a failed attempt to do something more grim and modern with 1972s WHAT BECAME OF JACK AND JILL? (and one final anthology), the company hit on something that could have increased their longevity, but ultimately aided in bringing about their downfall.
In the mid 1960s, Hammer went all out on a prehistoric epic starring John Richardson and Raquel Welch titled ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966). Knowing that a movie about cavemen was likely going to be a hard sell, they needed some dinosaurs to attract patrons, particularly the younger ones. Wanting to avoid putting actors inside rubber suits, Hammer decided to bank on Ray Harryhausen's time-consuming but stellar stop-motion animation instead. 
The gamble paid off as ONE MILLION YEARS BC was not only a million-maker at the box office at home and abroad for 20th Century Fox, but it solidified Raquel Welch as a global sex symbol in her iconic fur bikini. 
Hammer put as much emphasis on selling sex as they did spectacle, and they never missed an opportunity for heavy promotion of the bountiful assets of their starlets. Curiously, Amicus never promoted their female roster in alluring publicity materials.
Hammer returned to cave dwellers and thunder lizards for WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970). Fellow stop-motion colleague Jim Danforth took the animation reigns and, amazingly enough, delivered superior dinosaur sequences. Not as profitable as its predecessor, Warner Brothers unleashed DINOSAURS onto American theaters in the early months of 1971.
Victoria Vetri was the blonde bombshell among the cavemen and dinosaurs. A Playboy Playmate, she revealed a lot of skin in the movie as well. Unlike the previous picture, DINOSAURS has a noticeable sexual element throughout. These scenes were toned down or cut out altogether for the US release to obtain its G rating. They were reinstated in the film's first stateside DVD release but were withdrawn from release since the box bore the G rating on the back. The subsequent bluray release is the complete international version.
Hammer's third go at prehistory was the dinosaur-less CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT (1971). Despite the lovely body of Julie Ege rivaling Welch and Victoria Vetri, few cared to see the film. In the US, Columbia was the unlucky recipient of the Movie Nobody Remembers. Hammer completists, are the best audience for it.
Probably the most bizarre Hammer picture was the troubled production, THE LOST CONTINENT (1968); a movie based on Dennis Wheatley's 1938 novel, 'Uncharted Seas', and made between their stop-motion dinosaur chronicles. Without Harryhausen's hands animating the creatures, the movie featured weird mock-up monsters instead. These peculiar creations looked forward to what Amicus would be doing six years later. 
20th Century Fox's US promotion promised "A living hell that time forgot!" but received only low box office numbers in return. It's not a highlight of the British studio's work, but certainly a stand-out title due to its melding of pirates and monsters.

Aside from Scream Queen Suzanne Leigh, the film featured the busty Dana Gillespie. Interestingly enough, she would appear in even less attire in another monster epic in a film that started out as an Amicus Production.
A few years later, Amicus would do dinosaur movies of their own. Instead of a new story, they adapted Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic for the big screen. Budgeted at $1.2 million, THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975) was the biggest movie Amicus ever attempted, with fine performances and largely impressive special effects and miniature work. Avoiding the time-consuming stop-motion of the Hammer films, the filmmakers opted for mock-ups and hand puppets made by Roger Dicken (ALIEN) instead.
AIP issued just the standard publicity for the film's March, 1975 release; but some theaters would do their own in-house gimmicks. One theater in Springfield, VA showing LAND had its employees dress up in homemade cave dweller costumes. Flyers were handed out to motorists waiting for a green light, and did further ballyhoo by attending a local carnival in-costume that reportedly got lots of attention.
A sizable hit and one of the biggest of the year in Great Britain, it was around this time an irreparable wedge grew between Amicus figureheads Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenberg. Allegedly the duo disagreed over their preferred leading actor--Rosenberg with Stuart Whitman and Subotsky with Doug McClure. Since AIP was releasing the movie in America, their preference towards McClure was the tiebreaker. In 1975, the two men dissolved their partnership in a lawsuit that lasted several years.
Another Burroughs adaptation came in the form of AT THE EARTH'S CORE (1976). LAND was family-friendly entertainment despite some strong moments of violence. CORE was even more kid-oriented than its predecessor and made $3,000,000 for AIP. 
This was the one time Amicus (or possibly it was AIP's decision) to push the sex appeal of its leading lady, that being the gorgeous Caroline Munro. She had featured in movies like Hammer's DRACULA AD 1972 (1972) and CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER (1974).
Naturally, the team of John Dark, Kevin Connor, and star Doug McClure would return for more fantasy adventures. What they may or may not have known at the time, Amicus Productions wouldn't see the next journey through to the end.

Upon Rosenberg's departure in 1977 during the filming of THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT, American International took full control of the picture. Aside from the look of the dinosaurs, there's little else that looks remotely Amicus. It would've been the one movie where Amicus placed emphasis on the enormous attributes of its female co-star (alongside Sarah Douglas), that being the bosomy, curvaceous frame of singer Dana Gillespie. 
After approximately 15 years selling fear and fantasy, the doors of Hammer's chief rival were quietly closed forever.
As it were, Hammer was the more dominant of the two major British horror companies. Ironically, it would be Amicus who took more chances with new ideas. Some of them were abandoned like their attempt at 3D, but others were their trademark anthologies and bringing horror into modern times such as the bizarre SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN (1970) and the underrated MADHOUSE (1974). Amicus teaming with American International Pictures made for a powerful duo. AIP had arguably the best publicity department, designing incredibly garish and eye-catching promotional materials for their movies. 

Due to the success of AIP's COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970), Hammer put Dracula in modern-day London in the 1970s with DRACULA AD 1972 and a direct sequel titled THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA (1973). The former did nothing with the concept, confining the King of the Undead to a dilapidated church setting that hearkened back to the Gothic locales they'd had success in. The latter title could barely be bothered to include him in the movie at all. (Cushing and Lee duel during the conclusion of DRACULA AD 1972)

Aside from their generous package of eclectic titles in various genres with Columbia Pictures from 1959-1964 that had an occasional American actor in the cast, Hammer was largely a British-focused enterprise. The technicians and actors were European, and the end-product was distinctly British. Amicus diversified their celluloid portfolio by bringing in American actors and authors to enhance their product. In the end, Hammer's downfall came from an inability to change with the times. 
The shuttering of the latter was largely due to the parting-of-ways by the two founders. Had the duo been able to focus on their company, it's possible Amicus would've sustained itself for a few more years at least.
Today, the output of both studios still has blood in its veins. Both Hammer Films and Amicus Productions, and the actors and technicians who made them, continue to survive beyond death; possessing the ability to send entertaining shudders down the spines of viewers for generations to come.

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