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Beasts in the Cellar: The Exploitation Film Career of Tony Tenser [Paperback]

John Hamilton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Jan 2005
The Untold Story of Britain’s Greatest Exploitation Film Producer!

Tony Tenser has an unrivalled position as the godfather of low budget British films. Amongst his many movies are the notorious ‘nudie’ Naked as Nature Intended, Roman Polanski’s ground breaking Repulsion and Michael Reeves’s classic Witchfinder General. He made movies in every genre from children's films to cannibalism, working with actors ranging from Christopher Lee and Vincent Price to Spike Milligan and Norman Wisdom.

Tenser’s early career highlights include using strippers to picket cinemas and converting a Soho basement into Britain’s most successful private cinema club. By the time he started producing films such as The Pleasure Girls and The Black Torment, Tenser’s name was a byword for colourful titles, controversial themes and outrageous publicity stunts. He would enjoy mainstream success with the likes of Cul de Sac and Hannie Caulder but his company, Tigon, will be always synonymous with horror epics like The Sorcerers and Blood on Satan’s Claw.

By drawing on exclusive interviews, original production files and private correspondence, John Hamilton pieces together the stories behind the movies that made him the most admired and successful exploitation producer in British cinema. From battles with the censor to studio in-fighting, from tantrums on set to post-production interfe-rence, the cut and thrust of filmmaking on a budget is revived in glorious detail.

- Detailed analysis of all of Tenser’s films complete with the inside story behind the making of the movies, full production details, contemporary reviews and box-office statistics.

- More than 500 rare and exclusive photographs, many from Tenser’s private collection and never seen in print before.

- A foreword and extensive interview with Tony Tenser, as well as contributions from many of the film-makers and stars of his movies.

- An exhaustively researched filmography covering all of the films produced or distributed by Tenser as well as a wealth of detail on unfilmed projects.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: FAB Press (6 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903254272
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903254271
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 19 x 26.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 314,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


A thrilling read, providing lip-smacking detail about screenplays, budgets, the on-set tantrums and the battles with the censor. Glorious stuff! -- Film Review, October 2005

If you're at all interested in the darker corners of the British film industry, here's a helpful searchlight. -- Crime Time magazine

The best ever single subject book in the field of British horror cinema. -- SFX magazine

About the Author

John Hamilton has been writing on British cinema for over a decade, contributing to other books and magazines such as Shivers, Flesh & Blood and Fantasy Females, as well as more mainstream cinema publications.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tigon films 8 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book buy i put off for a quite sometime,i regretted that decision when i eventually did pick it up.initially i was under the impression that it was more like a typical autobiography format,so i put off buying it in favour of other books on horror,exploitation cinema etc.The layout of "Beasts In The Cellar" is very much a catalogue of Tony Tensers Tigon films laid out over his career in chronological order with plot synopsis,casting and production stories for each film.It's a good sized book roughly A4 format at 300 pages with literally hundreds of B/W pictures throughout and a brief selection of colour stills in the middle.If you've enjoyed similar books on british horror like Darksides:Amicus Studios and Hammers: Eltree/Bray Studios books this one on Tigon and Tony Tenser will be perfectly good reading.I would recommend picking this up as FAB Press genre books don't don't stay in print forever and can command very high prices once out of print.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tony, King of the Soho Jungle 16 Sep 2013
By Tomlan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The first thing that comes across in this excellent book, and continues throughout is what an amiable and likeable man Tony Tenser is. In his dealings with various partners, artists and people in general, nowhere does he appear to be spiteful, vindictive or any way unpleasant. A rare feat in his chosen profession.

The Compton, and later Tigon years were my main reason for wanting to read this book, but John Hamilton offers so much more. The constant restraints of budgets, the battles with the censor - on a par with Hammer's - the property purchases, the films that never got made etc, etc. Above all, one man's energy and enthusiasm that brought it all about, and took the "Big Boys" on at their own game. This book belongs on any Cineaste's bookshelf.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tony Tenser 11 April 2012
By Slayer Fan - Published on Amazon.com
I wont boast all of the wonderful titles, that is what the book is for. But I have yet to be let down by a FAB PRESS book this one has a great collection of info and pics.
5.0 out of 5 stars The story behind Tigon, rival of Hammer and Amicus 22 Sep 2013
By Kevin Olzak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The story of Tony Tenser is the story of Tigon British Films, which rivaled both Hammer and Amicus as purveyors of terror cinema from 1964 to 1974. His origins in sexploitation, Tenser never strayed far from his roots, especially when it came to advertising his every release. It was his 6th film, 1964's THE BLACK TORMENT, under the original Compton-Tekli name, that got the genre ball rolling, followed over the next few years by REPULSION and CUL-DE-SAC (both Roman Polanski), A STUDY IN TERROR, THE PROJECTED MAN, THE SORCERERS and THE CRIMSON CULT (both starring Boris Karloff), THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR (Peter Cushing), WITCHFINDER GENERAL (Vincent Price), INVASION OF THE BODY STEALERS (George Sanders), THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF HORROR, ZETA ONE, THE BEAST IN THE CELLAR, HANNIE CAULDER (Western starring Raquel Welch and Christopher Lee), DOOMWATCH, NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND, THE CREEPING FLESH (both Cushing and Lee), and FRIGHTMARE. For me, Tigon's enduring masterpiece remains 1970's THE BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW, though Michael Reeves' WITCHFINDER GENERAL may be considered the better film. This book covers all of these titles and more, lovingly recreating a time when 'Swinging London' was in full swing.
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