In the late 1960’s and early 70’s one company was world famous for British horror movies, Hammer Films. But a rival sprang up with Amicus Films who produced a string of enjoyable movies one of which is Asylum.
Made in 1972 and with an all star cast including Peter Cushing, Britt Ekland, Herbert Lom, Robert Powell, Patrick Magee, Barry Morse and Charlotte Rampling, this is a very enjoyable anthology movie, with obviously some stories being more successful than others.
When Doctor Martin arrives for a job interview at a secluded asylum for the incurable insane, he must prove himself by listening to the macabre tales of four inmates and deducing which is the former head of the facility who suffered a breakdown.
Frozen Fear stars Barbara Parkins as Bonnie, who recounts her plot to murder her lover’s wife, whose talent for voodoo results in someone rising from the dead to gain revenge. The Weird Tailor stars Peter Cushing who asks for a suit be made from a mysterious fabric designed to bring his son back from the dead. Charlotte Rampling and Britt Ekland star in Lucy Comes to Stay as Barbara, a frequent Asylum patient, and her mischievous friend Lucy whose frequent visits upsets her fragile mind. Finally in in Manikins of Horror Dr Byron (Herbert Lom) transfers his soul into an automaton and is sets out to kill Dr Rutherford (Patrick Magee)… but who is really in danger?
Its always a joy to see class actors such as Peter Cushing and Herbert Lom at work and both of the stories are told well, as is the opener Frozen Fear which is amusing in respect of what they could show because of the stricter censorship at the time (for inatance all body parts are covered in brown paper and tied up with string!)
Overall an enjoyable horror anthology and one of the best from the Amicus stable.
The Blu ray released by Second Sight is a mixed bag. The image quality is good, not reference quality, a few scenes have really prominent grain but its a definite upgrade from the DVD. Audio is fine, clear and thankfully original mono.
Extras are great and plentiful including :
Audio Commentary with Director Roy Ward Baker and Camera Operator Neil Binney,’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 subtitles for the hearing impaired
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 featuring new artwork by Graham Humphreys and the original artwork.
A great trip down memory lane and a good overall package.
FILM : 7.5 PICTURE: 7 AUDIO: 8 EXTRAS: 8