When Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) arrives at the Dunsmoor Asylum for the incurably insane, he expects to be interviewed by asylum director Dr. Starr. Instead he is met by Dr. Rutherford (Patrick Magee), who explains that Dr.... more » Starr had suffered a mental breakdown and now is one of the patients. Dr. Rutherford decides that if Martin can deduce which one is really Dr. Starr, then he will be given the position. Is it Bonnie (Barbara Parkins), whose affair with a married man turns murderous? Is it Bruno (Barry Morse), a hardluck tailor visited by a mysterious stranger (Peter Cushing) with a blueprint and very special fabric for an unusual suit? Is it Barbara (Charlotte Rampling), accused of murdering her brother and her nurse but insisting that her friend Lucy (Britt Ekland) was responsible; Or is it Dr. Byron (Herbert Lom) who claims the ability to transfer collecting.« less
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 04/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Long out of circulation (except in an inferior bad transfer and print) "Asylum" finally reappears on DVD. One of Amicus' finest efforts is told anthology style much like "Tales from the Crypt" and "The House That Dripped Blood" from a screenplay by Robert Bloch (the novel Psycho among many other genre offerings)most fans of the film know the story but I'll briefly recap it here after I mention the new stuff on the DVD.
For this edition from Dark Sky Films has struck a new print from the 35mm negative, transfered it in high definition and presents it in an anamorphic widescreen presentation. The extras include a commentary track by director Roy Ward Baker and Director of Photography Neil Binney, biographies for Baker, Cushing, Lom, Britt Ekland and producers Milton Subotsky & Max J. Rosenberg. There's also a featurette on Amicus entitled "Inside the Fear Factory" as well as liner notes and a still gallery. The only thing I could have asked for that isn't included is a appreciation in the form of a featurette for some of the deceased stars such as Peter Cushing.
Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) arrives at Dunsmoor a hospital for the mentally ill. Martin is challenged by the director of the hosptial Dr. Rutherford (Patrick Magee) to prove his mettle as a doctor; Martin must figure out who of the recently admitted inmates is Dr. Starr the former director of the hospital who's gone insane. Martin listens to the stories of different inmates (played by Barbara Parkins,Charlotte Rampling and Herbert Lom)and tries to determine which of them was the former director. Each has a bizarre story to tell from a reanimated dismembered corpse, suits that bring the dead to life to hand made little "people" that their maker can "will" himself into. Curiously Robert Bloch is credited as Robert Black on the box. Considering all the care that went into the re-release I'm surprised this happened.Also featuring Peter Cushing, Barry Morse and Charlotte Rampling "Asylum" is the gem in the Amicus crown.
The featurette features Max Rosenberg discussing the formation of Amicus and how the first couple of films came to be. For example Rosenberg discusses how he and Milton Subotsky became involved in Hammer's first successful horror production "Curse of Frankenstein". Freddie Francis also appears discussing how he got into direction, working with Peter Cushing and his work for the duo.
The previous edition has been out of print for far too long. It looks as if the plentiful extras and usual care that MPI takes with their releases is here as well. It's taken a while for this gem to become available again but I'm happy it has finally come "back to life". This creepy horror thriller scared the heck out of me as a kid and while some of the edge may have been dulled by the more explicit horror films out there for younger horror fans the subtle direction and storytelling has kept this film vital and makes this film an essential horror thriller to pick up on DVD.
Amicus horror gem!!
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 12/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"During Hammer's Hay-day, they had competition with from Amicus. Amicus' productions tended to be lush productions with an eye to detail and costumes, with solid directing, scripting and acting. This one is no exception. You have the marvellously talented Robert Powell (Jesus of Nazareth) coming to an old Gothic mansion that has been converted for a home for the criminally insane. He is applying for a job there as a doctor, and he soon find himself proving his worth in a test. He is presented with three different patients. He most go in, interview them and learn why they are there. One of them is a former doctor at the institute, but has flipped out and has been confined. Powell's task is to determine which one is the former doctor.It's the frame works for some nifty horror tales, with fine directing by Roy Ward Baker and script by Robert Bloch.A great fun evening with a super cast of Powell, Peter Cushing, Patrick Macnee, Herbert Lom, Barry Morse, Barbara Parkins, Charlotte Rampling, Richard Todd."
An absolutely brilliant horror movie
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 02/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As one who has often panned for gold in the stream of little-known horror delights, I have discovered much more fool's gold than gold dust, but Asylum is a magnificent gold nugget. Produced by Amicus, the British equivalent of Hammer Studios, this classic film features a remarkable cast bringing to life a compelling, delightfully shocking tale which comes straight from the pen of none other than Robert Bloch. I think the whole idea of the movie is brilliant, especially the way everything is put together, meshing four largely unrelated tales into one overall and amazingly successful story. We begin with Dr. Martin's arrival at the asylum in pursuit of a position. He is surprised to learn that Dr. Styles, the asylum director and the man he expected to speak with about the job, is now one of the incurably insane inmates housed upstairs. Dr. Rutherford is willing to hire Dr. Martin, but only if he passes a certain test. There are four inmates upstairs, and he must determine which one is actually Dr. Styles (who has assumed a brand new identity for himself). As Dr. Martin makes the rounds, accompanied by the doctor posted upstairs, we are presented with each individual's story as to how they came to be institutionalized. 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. Next we have the story of Bruno the tailor. Facing economic ruin, he is offered two hundred pounds to make a suit for a rather strange gentleman named Mr. Smith (played magnificently by Peter Cushing). The suit must be created under the unusual conditions specified by the customer and must be made from the remarkable fabric Smith has provided Bruno. This metallic, strangely glittering coat is actually an instrument of magic, Bruno finds out upon delivering it. Supposedly it has the power to give or restore life to whoever wears it. Cushing's performance helps make this the strongest of the four stories, in my opinion. Next up is Barbara, who denies having committed the murders that resulted in her institutionalization. It was her friend Lucy, she says. The story plays pretty well until the end, when whatever mystery lingered concerning the truth about Lucy is rather unnecessarily done away with. Finally, we have Dr. Baron, maker of robotic men; actually, he says, the creatures are quite human on the inside, and he claims to have the power to will his own mind into one such creation and essentially make it come alive with his own consciousness. This tale has its weaknesses, but its effect on Dr. Martin is profound and sets in motion the thrilling conclusion of the movie. This conclusion, I must say, is remarkably good, treating me to a wonderful surprise and devilishly good twist. The plot of Asylum does have a weakness or two in it, but the film's overall effect on the viewer is so gripping that minor questions cease to matter very much. Frankly, I have never seen an anthologized movie such as this succeed so well. Few movies can combine separate tales and succeed as a unified whole, but Asylum accomplishes this feat quite easily. This is an intelligent horror movie that fans of the genre can point to with great pride."
Vito Skywalker | Hawaii United States | 11/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow, this movie was fun. I never saw it before and, because I've been on a big Hammer and Amicus kick lately, took a chance on it. I was not disappointed. Like other Amicus productions, what we get here are several horror stories in one, all centered on "incurably insane" patients in a British asylum. There are some great stars here that make it work oh so well, including Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange), Robert Powell (Tommy, Jesus of Nazareth), Herbert Lom (Phantom of the Opera-1962), Peter Cushing (Do I need name all of his great horror films?), Richard Todd (Stage Fright)Barry Morse (Gerard from the 1960s TV series classic The Fugitive), Geoffrey Bayldon (The House That Dripped Blood), the scrumptious Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man-1973), beautiful Charlotte Rampling (The Fury), and lovely Bonnie Parkins (The Mephisto Waltz). The transfer from Dark Sky Films is fantastic; it looks like a brand new film. It's presented in anamorphic widescreen and looks great when played in a progressive scan DVD player on a HD television. Looking forward to the upcoming release of "From Beyond the Grave" from Image. Never saw that one before, either, but am looking forward to buying it just the same. I'm hopeful other Amicus classics, including "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors," "Tales from the Crypt (1972)," and "Vault of Horror" will be released on DVD soon. There are rumors abound that Vault and Tales will soon be released by 20th Century Fox in England, but that won't help those of us living in the states much. Dr. Terror was released in England on DVD, but never in the U.S. There is a demand for these films here. Let's get with it, whoever owns the rights."
Entertaining Horror Anthology
PM in NY | New York City | 08/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of a series of horror anthology movies released by Amicus Studios in the early 70's. (i.e. "Tales From the Crypt", "The House That Dripped Blood", "Vault of Horror").Each anthology is held together by a certain theme.
In "Asylum" a young psychiatrist interviewing for a job in an asylum is told that the head of the asylum has gone crazy and is now a patient. The young psychiatrist must hear the stories of some of the patients and then determine who was the head of the Asylum. If he is correct, he gets the job.
The stories give the feel of old horror comics, which inspired many horror anthologies. The characters are one-dimensional and driven by such deadly sins, as greed and lust. In most cases, with a twist and a touch of macabre, the fates get their revenge on the evil-doers.
The stories are mostly enjoyable and solid entries in the horror anthology genre. The British countryside, where the stories are mostly set, adds an extra chill.
The movie is recommended most to fans of horror anthologies, such as HBO's "Tales From the Crypt" or Stephen King's "Creepshow", and the movies noted earlier. It would also be great for those who remember how much fun these movies were when they first came out.
More general audiences would be entertained, but I don't think this movie should be ranked with 5-Star horror masterpieces ("The Exorcist", "Halloween", "Psycho"), nor would I expect most general audiences to rank it so highly.
The DVD quality is definitely noteworthy, having sharp, rich colors which enhanced the movie's experience."