Horror, Cult Movies, Exploitation Cinema, 70s Schlock, and more! Let’s look at something cool!
“Working with the mentally disturbed can lead to a breakdown.”
Genre: Anthology Horror
Year Released: 1972
Pedigree: Amicus Productions; written by Robert “Psycho” Bloch
Where I Watched: Shudder
Synopsis: A young doctor interviews for a position at a mental hospital. As part of the interview process, he must interview a handful of patients. Why? Because one of the doctors has lost touch with reality, and the new hire must be able to figure out which one is the previous doc. Cue the anthology format!
Fabulous or Frustrating?: I love a good anthology . I love…a GOOD anthology. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love Asylum? It’s tropes, that’s a mile away, which is shocking for a Bloch written screenplay. He’s crafted some of the coolest horror short stories I’ve ever read, and Psycho? Yes please.
However, these stories feel like boilerplate, churned out for a quick buck. Which I’m sure is exactly what happened during the early 70s horror anthology boom. But unlike joints like Tales From the Crypt and The House That Dripped Blood, Asylum feels lackluster, as if everyone was simply going through the motions rather than having fun.
There’s a tale of a cheating hubby whose rich wife won’t let him get a divorce, so why not kill her? Well, she’s a student of voodoo…so when she dies you know what’s coming next. Later, there’s the story of a woman who comes home from mental institution, only to get a visit from her bad influence of a friend…and yeah, it’s exactly what you think. The final story is basically Puppet Master-lite, promising, yet the real clunker of the bunch.
The strangest tale is one about a tailor who’s down on his luck, until Peter Cushing asks him to make a suit. The fabric is really cool, maybe too cool…and while the story weaves in and out of “twists”, it’s Cushing’s brief appearances that’s worth the watch. The best thing in the film is that wraparound story, with the new doc trying to figure out who’s who.
I hate to bash an anthology, as typically there’s always something to like. Even if one or two of the takes aren’t my thing, something else comes along that makes it worthwhile. But with Asylum, there’s a lot of promise, but lackluster payoffs. I should really give this two Freaks, but I’m gonna bump it half a star simply because I love anthologies. I can’t help myself; even when they do me wrong, it’s kinda alright. Only kinda.
Freak-O-Meter: 2.5 out of 5 Freaks