Katz to flesh out horror biz

Producer to scare up remakes of Amicus classics

It’s alive!

British horror film label Amicus Entertainment has been reanimated by producer Robert Katz, longtime Amicus exec Julie Moldo and financier Jay Firestone.

While the company plans to scare up remakes of such Amicus classics as “The House That Dripped Blood,” the shingle will start with two original low-budget horror films. A deal is in the works with a distributor, Katz said, and the goal will be to make as many as six films per year, four budgeted under $5 million and two up to $20 million each.

Katz takes on the Amicus revival effort after concluding his 25-year partnership with Moctesuma Esparza, with whom he produced “Selena” and “The Milagro Beanfield War.”

They still have several projects under the Esparza/Katz banner, but Katz wanted a change. The success of low-budget scare fare and his long relationship with late Amicus co-founder Max J. Rosenberg created the opportunity.

Amicus rivaled Hammer for the title of premier British fright film factory of the 1960s, Katz said.

“Hammer was more about monsters; Amicus was more psychological stuff,” Katz said. “I’ll be looking to do homages to classic titles, the ones that Max didn’t sell off with long-term distribution and remake rights, like ‘Tales From the Crypt.’ We have a catalog that includes ‘The Beast Must Die,’ ‘The House that Dripped Blood,’ ‘Scream and Scream Again’ and ‘Torture Garden.’ ”

Firestone previously established Fireworks Entertainment, sold it to CanWest Entertainment and became chairman-CEO. He left in 2003.

Firestone is providing funds to cover overhead and development, pre-production and deficit financing, though an imminent distribution deal will bear part of the burden.

Amicus kicks off with two Katz-produced pics budgeted under $5 million.

First up is “Clown,” a horror road film about a demonic clown, who, paired with a dwarf, performs nasty deeds at a seedy carnival. Mark Jones (“Leprechaun”), will direct a script he wrote with D.G. Larson (“Night Man”). Production will begin by the spring.

“Re-Animator” helmer Stuart Gordon will direct “Stuck,” a thriller about a young woman who commits a hit-and-run, then finds her fate tied to her victim. Gordon wrote the script with John Strysik (“Tales From the Darkside”). Production begins midyear.

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