Of late I have been on a binge of classic horror anthology films and so I just couldn’t resist the urge to write a review for the 1972 horror classic Asylum. By far one of my favorite movies and one that definitely scared me senseless as a child, Asylum holds a special place in the heart. Asylum was one of the very first horror films that my mother, also a fellow horror fan, introduced me too. Consisting of five creepy horror tales, Asylum holds the suspense and tension that many modern horror films now lack and is most definitely responsible for my fear of Mannakins!
Directed by Roy Ward Baker who is also responsible for directing Quatermass And The pit and Scars Of Dracula and written by Robert Bloch author of the infamous Pyscho; wrote the screenplay for Asylum based on a series of his own short stories. The film starts off with Dr. Martin who is scheduled for a job interview at the asylum for the incerubiably insane to become the chief doctor at the facility. It is Dr. Martin’s job to interview each of the patients residing at the asylum to deduce which one is Dr. Starr, a man or woman who has gone insane.
Heads A Rolling!
The film kicks off with the choppingly (see what I did there. Ha) gruesome tale entitled Frozen Fear. the segment features appearances from Babara Parkins as Bonnie and Richard Todd who plays Walter and Sylvia Syms as Ruth. This short is definitely one that stayed with me as a child. I remember the parts vividly and for a long time, I was unnerved by what I saw. Frozen Fear is one of my favorite segments in the film and one that fills me with dread and excitement.
Of course, a horror film in the 1970s would not be a classic without the appearance of legendary horror actor Peter Cushing. Making his appearance in the second installment entitled The Weird Tailor this little gem became the reason as to why I fuckin hate Mannikins. Otto is the shop display mannikin who showcases Mr. Smiths handwork (Barry Morse) in the window of his quaint little shop. Struggling to make money business is not as good as it used to be until one day a Mr. Smith (Peter Cushing) comes into the shop with a demand that Bruno makes a suit by the exact instructions that he gives him in order for it to be perfect. With some kind magical power residing in the fabric, unknowingly Brunos wife puts the suit on Otto with results in mayhem being unleashed.
Third, in line, we have the devilishly charming short entitled Lucy Comes To Stay. This segment is also one of my favorites in which it explores Mental Health in a paranormal fashion. The ebullient Barbara informs Dr. Martin that she has resided in an asylum before and on her release home Barbara is monitored by her brother George and nurse Miss Higgins. However, Barbara’s home life played by the beautiful Charlotte Rampling takes a drastic turn for the worst when an angelic blonde shows up called Lucy (Britt Eckland). Lucy Comes to Stay is definitely an interesting take on mental illness.
SCI-FI Chop Bot!
And lastly, we have Mannakins Of Horror featuring Herbert Lom as Dr. Byron who is working on something called ‘soul transference’ where he projects his own soul into that of a mannikin. This segment is one that I didn’t find that appealing but it was still very entertaining to watch. With the film coming to a close everything begins to tie together and Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) finally discovers the true identity of the mysterious Dr. Starr.
In conclusion, I really cannot recommend Asylum enough. If you’re a fan of classic horror then you will love this! How can you not when the opening and closing credits start off with the hauntingly beautiful classical piece Night On Bald Mountain! The acting in this movie is impeccable. so much talent!