Don't Look in the Deep Freeze!
davidwangomango | Orlando, FL | 05/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"FLASHBACK- High School and we are asked by teacher if we'd like to attend a movie in the auditorium. I think we had to cough up $2 to go see this movie- which was never explained what we were going to see- not even the title. Imagine our...MY surprise when the credits roll and the title "Asylum" comes up. Confusion spreads across our face and shortly after that....terror! Oh my word- when the woman's body is chopped up and neatly wrapped in butcher's brown paper and then stacked in the deep freezer...WTF?! And then the pieces come alive!! Come on! What does this have to do with reading, writing, and arithmatic?!! This movie is a cut above the rest. Good stuff!"
Polished Amicus Anthology Film Featuring Plenty Of Murder, I
Simon Davis | 10/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As all true lovers of British horror undoubtedly know the production companies of Hammer and Amicus ruled the horror scene for most of the 1960's and early 1970's with their stylish horror films and tales of the macabre. While the product of Hammer Studios, especially their well known Gothic horrors, are well known and loved world wide the output of Amicus often receives less acknowledgement and is often confused with those films produced by Hammer. Amicus won its main fame from the tremendous "Anthology" films it produced where a linking story allowed three or four seperate mini tales to be told. In this wonderful Dark Sky DVD release we finally have one of the later and most polished efforts of the Amicus production company to enjoy in a beautifully prepared DVD release. "Asylum" has first rate credentials having been directed by veteran horror master Roy Ward Baker and written by acclaimed horror writer Robert Bloch. If that was not enough the film boasts a superb international cast including Barbara Parkins, Patrick Magee, Britt Ekland, Charlotte Rampling and of course horror legend Peter Cushing in an intriguing set of tales framed around the main story of the arrival of young Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) for a job interview at an isolated and suitably eerie looking asylum for the criminially insane. Dr. Martin soon finds out that Dr. Starr who was to interview him has had a breakdown and is now confined to one of the upstairs rooms. Dr. Martin is then challenged by Dr. Rutherford (Patrick Magee) to work out which one of four patients is the mysterious Dr. Starr and during the course of his meetings with each of the four patients their individual stories are unfolded.
The four stories while varying in quality are all well produced and very well acted by the talented performers who bring them to life, they are:
Starring Barbara Parkins, Richard Todd and Sylvia Sims.
A cheating husband and his mistress get more than they bargained for when they do away with the chief "obstacle" to their new life together with suitably grizzly results.
"The Weird Tailor"
Starring Peter Cushing and Barry Morse.
A financially troubled tailor receives the unexpected offer of a high paying job from a mysterious man wanting an unusual suit made for his son. However the suit is not intended for the usual purpose of such an item and has very sinister consequences for all who come into contact with the strange garment.
"Lucy Comes To Stay"
Starring Charlotte Rampling and Britt Ekland.
A young girl returns home to live with her brother after having suffered a complete mental breakdown. However her happiness is soon complicated by the arrival of her strange "friend" who seems to have an overpowering influence on her, or does she?
"Manniikins Of Horror"
Starring Herbert Lom and Geoffrey Bayldon.
A doctor confined in the asylum creates strange little robots with faces resembling his former collegues which are not as innocent as they first seem with the one modelled after himself created for a very deadly purpose which belies its small size.
While I can't say that "Asylum" is my favourite Amicus Anthology story,(that honour goes to the superb "The House That Dripped Blood" which was also written by Robert Bloch), there is much to recommend here for fans of British produced horror and mystery. We have a suitably sinister looking main setting of the mist shrouded asylum complete with a main staircase lined with nightmarish etchings of victims of insanity, the terrific cast in all four stories, and best of all the very disturbing feeling that almost every character and setting is not exactly what they first appear to be. A grand viewing experience is guaranteed in a multi story film the type of which is rarely produced nowadays. Dark Sky DVD here have continued their first rate DVD presentation efforts and have gone all out with a deluxe presentation of this film. Presented in its correct widescreen and aspect ratio the film has never looked or sounded better having been restored with great clarity and vivid rich colour. On top of this Dark Sky have really put the icing on the cake with some wonderful extras including commentary by the film's director Roy Ward Baker and cameraman Neil Binney, cast and crew biographies and a terrific featurette "Inside the Fear factory", which details the history of the famous Amicus Productions with input from many of those who helped create this great company. In short the whole DVD is a horror fans delight and cannot be faulted. I know this Dark Sky release is now a treasured part of my Amicus horror DVD collection and I highly recommend this release as an example of how classic horror should be released onto DVD. Enjoy!
The Author of "Psycho" Brings Us A Great Anthology of Gothic
J. B. Hoyos | Chesapeake, VA | 01/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review is for the Dark Sky Films release:
"Asylum" is an awesome anthology based on a collection of short stories written by Robert Bloch, author of "Psycho" - the granddaddy of all slasher films. Like Norman Bates of "Psycho," most of the characters in "Asylum" are psychotic; in fact, they are residents of an insane asylum. Four patients each have a ghastly story to tell about how they became residents.
Amicus Productions is famous for releasing horror anthologies and "Asylum" is considered by many fans to be one of their best. Why? It boasts a top notch cast of horror stars led by Peter Cushing (who portrayed Dr. Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Van Helsing in numerous Hammer Productions), Britt Ekland ("The Whicker Man," "The Monster Club," and "What the Peeper Saw") and Patrick Magee ("Demons of the Mind," "Dementia 13," and "The Black Cat"). Each story is truly frightening and involves inanimate objects that come to life such as severed limbs and tiny dolls. There is always the thin line separating reality from fantasy. (Is the homicidal playmate real or imaginary? Which one of the patients is actually a doctor who suffered a mental breakdown?) This film, which boasts beautiful sets and a great musical score, has some shocking twists and turns, especially at the end when we learn the true identity of Dr. Starr.
"House of Crazies" is an alternate title and, I must say, a more appropriate one. However, "Asylum" has a more ominous, chilling ring. Whatever its title, I highly recommend buying it for anyone who collects horror films made by Amicus Productions or is a big fan of Peter Cushing or loves seventies horror. I happen to be a fan of all three.
The DVD presentation from Dark Sky Films is very professional. "Asylum" is presented in its theatrical release aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the video and audio are pristine, and there are English subtitles for those of us who are having difficulty hearing in our old age. There is also a collectible booklet of interesting liner notes inside the DVD keep case. However, let me warn you not to watch the "Inside the Fear Factory" feature unless you have already seen "The Beast Must Die" and "Now the Screaming Starts." There are film clips from these features that may ruin them for you.