With the success of Hammer Films through the late 1950’s and into the 1970’s, a number of of production companies set out to emulate Hammer’s output of Horror, Thriller and Sci-fi films. Often utilising actors and production crews associated with the Hammer stable.
We have put together a filmography of Hammer’s main rivals including cast and crew connections with Hammer Films. Listed in chronological order of general release. Click on the title to view brief details of each film, and cast/crew members with Hammer Connections.
Amicus Productions were based at Shepperton Studios, (where, incidentally, Phil Alexander worked for a time as a production assistant), and were active between 1962 and 1977. The company was founded by American producers and screenwriters Milton Subotsky (who had a script for what eventually became “The Curse of Frankenstein” rejected by Hammer) and Max Rosenberg.
Prior to establishing Amicus, its two producers collaborated on the successful horror film “The City of the Dead” (1960). Amicus’s first two films were low-budget musicals for the teenage market, “It’s Trad, Dad!” (1962) and “Just for Fun” (1963). Amicus is best remembered for making a series of portmanteau horror anthologies, inspired by the Ealing Studios film “Dead of Night” (1945).
Amicus’s horror and thriller films were sometimes mistaken for Hammer productions due to their similar visual style and often used the same actors, and crew. Unlike Hammer’s period gothic films, Amicus productions were usually set in the present day.
Films are listed in order they went on general release in the UK. Click on the title to view brief details of each film, and cast/crew members with Hammer Connections.
Tigon British Film Productions
Tigon British Film Productions or Tigon was a film production and distribution company, founded by Tony Tenser in 1966.
It is best remembered for its horror films, particularly “Witchfinder General” (directed by Michael Reeves, 1968) and “The Blood on Satan’s Claw” (directed by Piers Haggard, 1971).
Tigon was based at Hammer House in Wardour Street, London, and released a wide range of films from sexploitation (Zeta One), to an acclaimed television adaptation of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie (1972) starring Helen Mirren The largest part of its output, however, was made up by low-budget horror films in direct competition for audiences with Hammer Film Productions and Amicus Productions.
In 2005 FAB press in the UK published John Hamilton’s biography of Tony Tenser, a comprehensive look at the career of Tigon’s founder and the man dubbed “the Godfather of British Exploitation”. Hamilton had access to production files, diaries and personal correspondence, as well as recording a number of exclusive interviews with the likes of Vernon Sewell, Michael Armstrong, Christopher Lee, Ian Ogilvy and Peter Sasdy. He also recorded over 18 hours of interviews with Tony Tenser himself, all of which went to create an in-depth look not only at the making of the films but the machinations involved with running a film company.
Often mentioned in the same breath as Hammer, Amicus and Tigon, Tyburn Films were the least successful of Hammer’s rival film makers.
Tyburn was formed by Kevin Francis (son of 6 time Hammer director Freddie Francis), who was working as a freelance production manager. His ambition, it seemed, was to be the new Hammer. There was only one problem – by 1973, the market for traditional Hammer Horror had rapidly dwindled.
The first horror film to emerge from Francis didn’t have the Tyburn name attached. Tales That Witness Madness (1973) was an imitation of the Amicus portmanteau films, made under the World Film Services banner, and was directed by Freddie Francis, who would also direct the later Tyburn horrors.