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One of the patients in an institution for the incurably insane was once its director, and a young psychiatrist (Robert Powell) has to figure out which one as they all tell him their stories. What better setting for a horror anthology? It's an inspired framing device, making this one of the better examples of the genre, even if screenwriter Robert Bloch at times resorts to gimmicks rather than invention. The first two stories are less than brilliant (the first is highlighted by dismembered body parts neatly wrapped in butcher paper wriggling back to life for revenge), but Charlotte Rampling and Britt Eklund are marvelous in the third tale, about a mentally unbalanced young woman and her dangerous best friend. Herbert Lom is also excellent in the final story as a scientist who carves an army of dolls he claims he can bring to life by sheer will power.
Director Roy Ward Baker (Quatermas and the Pit) builds momentum with each story until the dark and deliciously bloody climax. This Amicus Studios production looks visually dull compared to Hammer's gothic gloss, but it features a great British cast (including Patrick Magee and Hammer stalwart Peter Cushing), and ultimately Baker makes that gloomy look work for his increasingly creepy production. Amicus produced a series of horror anthologies, including the original 1972 Tales from the Crypt and The Torture Garden (also scripted by Bloch). --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
From a production standpoint this is pretty much what you'd expect from the time period. The effects aren't great, the stories are predictable yet they still manage to get under your skin. At least in part this may be due to the music. It's unnerving and it's LOUD compared with the dialog track. I had to keep the remote handy. It probably helped the creepiness factor a bit that I started the movie with the sound turned up way too loud and jumped a foot when the music immediately blared.
So this is a solid choice for free; it has that much more understated quality of horror at the time. You don't have to see every bloody detail. Sometimes all you need is a hint, an implication. It also has the advantage that it's reasonably kid appropriate, if your kids are used to the Twilight Zone and other similar creepy stuff.
Basically, we've got a handful of "short stories" very loosely pulled together with the framing device of a psychologist visiting the asylum being asked to "figure out" which of the patients was actually the former director of the hospital. There's very little to this part of the plot, but the various stories the patients have to tell do create varying degrees of chills.
None of the stories are great, nor are they especially surprising, but they are told quite nicely and are better acted than such low-budget stuff has a right to be. Some outstanding actors such as Herbert Lom and Charlotte Rampling are featured, along with a brief but creepy turn by Peter Cushing (who, along with Christoper Lee, owned this genre of horror movie).
In many ways the film is a period piece, not so much about an era of history, but about an era of film history. It distills the style and sensibilities of the Hammer films (so called because they were made in England's Hammer Studio) into one neat, entertaining package. Will this be your favorite movie ever? Nope. But is it an amusing diversion and a wonderful slice of what was once the height of horror film making? You bet.
Check it out!
The first story, that of Bonnie, is a wholly remarkable one. Her lover, having finally agreed to kill his divorce-denying wife and run off with her, chops his wife into several pieces and stows everything in the freezer, including her voodoo-ish protective bracelet He is quite shocked shortly thereafter to see the head, wrapped in butcher's paper, roll into view upstairs, and he is even more surprised by what happens next. When Bonnie arrives, she finds herself menaced and attacked by the separate body parts of the seemingly undead murdered woman.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I got a hold of this DVD quiet by accident and boy did I think it looked cheesy! A 1972, Brit-horror throw-back film (or so I thought), to be piled up with all the rest of the... Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2002
When watching this film, you have to constantly bear in mind the era in which this film was made. Doing so will mean you can enjoy the film for what it is and ignore the terrible... Read morePublished on July 6 2002 by Anita
Asylum is of course one of a group of anthology horror films that includes Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, etc. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2001 by Surfink
Here's a fun horror anthology from the early 70's, with a pretty respectable cast including Peter Cushing, Patrick Magee, Herbert Lom, Barry Morse, Charlotte Rampling, and Britt... Read morePublished on Sept. 27 2001 by cookieman108
This is without a doubt one of the greatest horror films ever made. I first saw it when I was about 8 years old and haven't forgotten about it since. Read morePublished on June 2 2001 by Lisa Ziegen
This film describes 4 stories told to psychologist Robert Powell by patients at a remote English countryside house. Read morePublished on June 22 2000 by Muhammed Minhaz-ul Islam
Asylum. This film describes 4 stories told to psychologist Robert Powell by patients at a remote English countryside house. Read morePublished on June 16 2000 by Muhammed Minhaz-ul Islam