Director: Roy Ward Baker
Screenplay: Robert Bloch
Starring: Robert Powell, Barbara Parkins, Peter Cushing, Charlotte Rampling, Britt Ekland, Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee
Running Time: 88 min
BBFC Certificate: 15
Splendidly dramatic music and imagery sets the tone for Asylum, settling the viewer into a marvellous gore-fest richly coated in Amicus style. Another fine example of a film getting even better with age, Asylum has got even weirder and creepier with time. Roy Ward Baker is responsible for quite a selection of horror delights including Scares of Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde and The Monster Club.
Doctor Martin (Robert Powell, The Four Feathers) arrives at an asylum for an interview but he must pass a special test to get the job, he has to interview the inmates to find out which one is the now insane ex-head of the asylum for the incurably insane.
His first case is that of “Frozen Fear”, starring Barbara Parkins (Valley of the Dolls) as Bonnie, who tells her tale of death, betrayal and murder of her lovers wife, whose interest in voodoo causes havoc when her dead body is dismembered. Bonnie and cravatted heavy drinker Walter (Richard Todd) are involved in a ménage à trois with rich Ruth (Sylvia Sims). Bonnie and Walter make plans to dispatch loaded Ruth, Walter has bought Ruth a lovely new freezer but when she takes a look, he kills her, chops her up and wraps her in brown paper and string. Walter puts the bits in the freezer along with Ruth’s voodoo charm bracelet with disastrous consequences for Walter and Bonnie who get the axe.
The second patient to be interviewed by Doctor Martin is “The Weird Tailor” who tells his story of making a strange suit for Mr Smith (Peter Cushing, Star Wars). The tailor manages to complete the odd suit taking care to follow the complicated instructions to bring Mr Smith’s dead son back to life, however things do not go as planned.
In the third story “Lucy Comes to Stay” Charlotte Rampling (Broadchurch) stars as Barbara an asylum patient and Britt Ekland (Wicker Man) as her friend Lucy who drives Barbara round the twist. In the weakest of the tales, Lucy drives Barbara to carry out some diabolical deeds, including drugging, stabbing and murder, but who’s behind it all?
The best is saved for last in “Mannikins Of Horror” as Herbert Lom (The Phantom Of The Opera) plays loony Doctor Byron who likes to make little robots, but they are spookily advanced and obviously up to no good. Martin chats with Byron to see if he is the ex-head of the asylum. Byron educates Martin in his theories of soul transference into the tiny robot which looks like him and his plans to bring the mini creature to life, having seen all the patients Doctor Martin must explain his conclusions.
Amicus have created a fun anthology here with a particularly British style oozing Victorian lunatic asylum charm, it’s well cast with an uncomplicated story line. Livened up with amusing limbs bound in brown paper and string and mini horror robots filled with tiny icky human organs. This Amicus movie has a dramatic ambience which makes this one to treasure, made even better by all the extras.
Asylum Limited Edition Blu-ray is out on the 29th July 2019 with Second Sight Films and includes a delicious menu of extras. The disc I reviewed was of fine picture and sound quality, along with the tumultuous pile of bonus features makes this one to snap up for your collection.
- Audio commentary with Director Roy Ward Baker, Camera Operator Neil Binney and film historian Marcus Hearn
- Two’s a Company: 1972 On-set BBC report featuring interviews with Producer Milton Subotsky, Director Roy Ward Baker,
- Actors Charlotte Rampling, James Villiers, Megs Jenkins, Art Director Tony Curtis and Production Manager Teresa Bolland
- Screenwriter David J. Schow on Writer Robert Bloch
- Fiona Subotsky Remembers Milton Subotsky
- Inside The Fear Factory: Featurette with Directors Roy Ward Baker, Freddie Francis and Producer Max J. Rosenberg
- Theatrical Trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring new artwork by Graham Humphreys and original artwork
Limited Edition Contents
- Rigid Slipcase Featuring New Artwork by Graham Humphreys
- 40 page booklet with new essays by Allan Bryce, Jon Towlson and Kat Ellinger
- Reversible poster featuring new and original artwork
I really enjoyed the disc and its extras, it’s a shame I didn’t get a chance have a peek at the 40 page booklet. I’ll have to pop out and get the official realease for the total experience, because it’s bound to be full of scintillating information from these extremely well-read horror buffs.