Missing that Halloween fix? : Big Boy Bloater – My Top 10 Of Amicus & Hammer Horror Films

Many people will know me for my dark lyrics and slightly left of field songs. I think a lot of that stems from my childhood. Back in the late 70s and early 80s my parents would go out dancing on a Saturday night and leave myself and my older brother to fend for ourselves. Back then BBC2 would always have a horror film or two on a Saturday night and we always managed to stumble across them. I was way too young to watch them but I very soon found myself with a love of horror. I particularly liked the Hammer and Amicus films from the 60s and 70s. Watching them now, they’re pretty cheesy and at times hilarious but back then as a kid they did shit me up a considerable amount! So here’s my top 10 of those films, in no particular order.

1. THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (Hammer) 1968
I think this has one of the best stories of all these films and for my money the best horror roll Christopher Lee ever had and also a great turn from Charles Cray as the devil’s head disciple. It’s the story of black magic, evil and devil worship. Let down a bit by the not so special effects but the story line more than makes up for that.
Biggest shit me up moment: The Goat Of Mendes
Most cheesy moment: The giant spider


This is in the portmanteau or anthology style, several short stories all linked by a common theme, a format favoured by Amicus. An interesting cast with a great performance from Peter Cushing in the title role and also featuring Roy Castle and Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman. I won’t give it away but there’s a great little twist for the end.
Biggest shit me up moment: The opening of Cosmo Valdemar’s coffin
Most cheesy moment: The killer plant or Kenny Lynch

Swashbuckling, debonair, weed smoker Captain Kronos and his hunchback assistant Grost travel the land smiting vampires, ably aided by buxom wench Carla (Caroline Munro). I think her heaving bosom had quite an effect on me as a 10 year old boy! This was supposed to be the start of a movie franchise but poor box office meant it was not to be. There’s some pretty bad acting but the storyline is pretty cool.
Biggest shit me up moment: The dark, hooded figure
Most cheesy moment: Carla – “I’m staying, if you’ll have me?” Kronos – “Oh, I’ll have you”

4. VAULT OF HORROR (Amicus) 1973
Five men trapped in a vault tell tales of their recurring nightmares in this, another anthology from Amicus. To this day I find myself quoting lines from this film all the time. Another great cast including Tom Baker, Terry Thomas and Denholm Elliot.
Biggest shit me up moment: When Gaskill loses his hands
Most cheesy moment: Terry Thomas’ teeth in the jar

A great twist on the classic tale written by Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll And Sister Hyde also borrows from the Jack The Ripper legend and also Burke And Hare. Great performances from Ralph Bates as Jekyll and also Martine Beswick as Hyde who fell out with director Roy Ward Baker over the amount of nudity in the film.
Biggest shit me up moment: The smoggy streets of London
Most cheesy moment: Spencer – “It’s Hyde isn’t it? How is your brother?” Hyde – “He hasn’t been himself lately”

6. TALES FROM THE CRYPT (Amicus) 1972
Here’s another anthology from Amicus based on short stories from EC Comics. This is a film that is always watched in my house on Xmas Eve every year (after returning from the pub). The first story features Joan Collins as a woman who murders her husband on Xmas Eve and is then terrorised by a homicidal maniac dressed as Santa. Always gets Xmas off to a cracking start!
Biggest shit me up moment: Peter Cushing returning from the grave
Most cheesy moment: The crypt keeper talking directly to me!

7. ASYLUM (Amicus) 1972
Yet another portmanteau! This time a psychiatrist must guess which patient in the asylum used to be it’s former doctor. I must have seen this a few times as a kid because many of the themes have really stuck with me. In fact one of my music videos was very heavily influenced by the first segment of this film.
Biggest shit me up moment: Body parts, wrapped in brown paper moving about
Most cheesy moment: Herbert Lom’s little robot men

Starring a young Oliver Reed in his first credited role. This is your classic werewolf tale of boy meets girl, boy turns into werewolf, werewolf gets shot by silver bullet. Based on the novel, The Werewolf Of Paris, Hammer already had a Spanish set built for another film at their studios in Bray, England so they decided to set in Spain.
Biggest shit me up moment: Leon rattling the bars of his window
Most cheesy moment: The werewolf looks like a teddy bear with alopecia

A rare feature length horror for Amicus and a period piece too which Hammer often seemed to favour. Set in 1795 this is the tale of rape, curses and a severed hand that haunts the Fengriffin family.
Biggest shit me up moment: The eyeless, one hand missing woodsman
Most cheesy moment: The hand!

10. FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (Amicus) 1974
This was the last of the anthology films from Amicus and in my opinion by far the best. It centres around an antique shop named Temptations run by Peter Cushing. The shop’s motto is “Offers you can’t resist” and customers who cheat the proprietor come to a very nasty end!
Biggest shit me up moment: Creepy old dude in the blue room behind the door
Most cheesy moment: Madame Orloff


“Carol from Scunthorpe was by far the best….” 


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