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Reviews & Ratings for
Asylum More at IMDbPro »

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34 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining British horror anthology.

7/10
Author: Snake-666 from England
2 February 2004

Roy Ward Baker directs this horror anthology from the pen of macabre master Robert Bloch. Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) is a psychiatrist who wishes to work at an asylum for the incurably insane. In order to gain employment he is set a task by the house chieftain Dr. Rutherford (Patrick Magee) whereby he must discover the identity of a former doctor-turned-patient. Dr. Martin speaks to four different patients in an attempt to discover who used to be the psychiatrist and each patient relates to him their own particular terrifying story.

Robert Bloch, the man responsible for writing the novel of one of horror’s greatest movies, ‘Psycho’ (1960), writes for us four intriguing and pleasurable short horror pieces bound together wonderfully in the confines of an asylum. The film (produced by Amicus studios and now available in the UK in a wonderful box set) has a distinct feeling of a Hammer Horror production to it. The emphasis is on the story and artistic merit rather than cheap shocks and Roy Ward Baker does an excellent job throughout the production of building tension so that each shock has a desirable effect on the viewer. Each segment benefits from a marvellous cast which features the undeniable talents of the legendary Peter Cushing in ‘The Weird Taylor’ and the beautiful Britt Ekland in ‘Lucy Comes to Stay’. Britt Ekland would go on to co-star as the seductive landlord’s daughter Willow in the classic British horror ‘The Wicker Man’ just one year later.

The various segments themselves vary in quality, although not too dramatically. The opening segment, ‘Frozen Fear’ is a deliciously campy story about a man whose murdered wife seeks revenge on him and his lover. This particular segment may be a little too silly for some horror fans but it works as a perfect mood setter for the rest of the movie. The directorial style is what makes this segment worth watching. There are some wonderfully flowing shots which seek to give the short segment a distinctly unsettling edge despite the short falls of the script and story. A wonderful performance from Barbara Parkins of ‘Valley of the Dolls’ (1967) fame in the role of Bonnie caps the segment exquisitely and the climatic scene back in the asylum following the story give the segment an overall horrific nature.

This segment is followed by ‘The Weird Taylor’ which stars Peter Cushing as a devastated father who turns to the occult to resurrect his deceased son. He enlists the help of Bruno (Barry Morse), a taylor desperately in need of money, to make for him a suit to specific instructions. This segment is possibly the weakest of the four yet remains enthralling as the viewer cannot help but wonder just where this particular story is headed. Once again Roy Ward Baker’s direction during this segment is powerful as he creates a dark and despairing atmosphere despite the limitations of time and the story. Cushing’s performance is certainly memorable as is Barry Morse’s. The climax of the story is well portrayed but is unfortunately harmed by an air of unnecessary camp. Still, ‘The Weird Taylor’ is entertaining nonetheless but may be off-putting due to its overly slow nature.

Up next is ‘Lucy Comes to Stay’ which tells the story of a young girl (Charlotte Rampling as Barbara) who apparently has been recently released from a mental institution for her schizophrenia. She is still haunted by her imaginary friend Lucy (Britt Ekland) who soon makes an appearance and convinces her to leave the safety of her brother’s house. Murder and mayhem follow and the despairing Barbara reaches breaking point pretty quickly. This particular segment works more on the basis of the storyline rather than direction as there is little in the way of atmospheric build-up. Britt’s on-screen presence is commanding and powerful and her portrayal of a horror villain is so good that one wishes this segment had been made into an entire feature length movie as opposed to the short segment that it is. The shock scenes are blended into the story seamlessly with a superb accompanying soundtrack. This is my favourite of all the segments.

The film finally finishes with ‘Manikins of Horror’ where a former doctor believes that he can make and control little dolls. This segment takes place wholly back in the asylum and unlike the previous three stories there are no flashbacks to past events. This segment is possibly the most original of the stories and could even be possible influence for ‘Child’s Play’ (1988). Unfortunately, the story falls short as it becomes hard for one to suspend their disbelief yet the segment works as an excellent precursor to the genuinely surprising and shocking ending. Undeniably camp yet strangely intriguing this is a fitting ending to a generally entertaining horror film. For those who like horror anthologies and Hammer-style productions, one cannot go too far wrong with this entertaining British horror film. The film fails to maintain quality from start to finish but does not fail to entertain, surprise or shock. To sum up - an entertaining piece of horror anthology fare with some excellent direction, beautifully atmospheric scenarios and accompanying music and a strong cast who all give credible performances. My rating for ‘Asylum’ (1972) – 7/10.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Creepy and diverge horror stories in an appropriate setting. Great Amicus-fun!

7/10
Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
4 May 2004

Guided by a genuine musical score, a young doctor is driving towards an asylum for the `incurably insane'…This is the fourth horror omnibus by the specialist production company Amicus. `Asylum' is determined and effective horror, done without too much humor or decoration elements. Fairly new and definitely creative about this anthology is the narrative. The so-called wraparound story involves a young applicant-psychiatrist put to a test by the director of the asylum. Through listening to the stories of 4 patients, he has to make out which one of them is the previous director gone mad! This little extra, interactive elements gives more tension to the film and, as a viewer, you're automatically searching along. The stories themselves vary from simple to ingenious, climaxing in a cheerfully gruesome finale. The first story isn't exactly original and covers the well-known matter of adultery and revenge. Some nice over-the-top scenery in this tale, as well as some pretty good acting. The second tale is a lot better already and features Peter Cushing! Cushing often shows up in these Amicus productions and this time, he plays a mysteriously occult man who approaches a tailor with a strange request. This chapter is very atmospheric, stressing the poverty and the desperate need for money by the tailor (Barry Morse). The premise is silly and not well worked out, but the tension and chills triumph. I didn't care at all for the third story as it's just a lame variant on the `schizophrenic'-theme. It's obvious from the beginning and I wonder why they even bothered to show it as a mystery. The only aspect that made this chapter even bearable was the presence of England's fines female beauties! Charlotte Rampling was rather gorgeous around the time Asylum was shot and the absolute siren in this film is the ravishing Britt Ekland. If you're not familiar with her, run out to the nearest videostore and get yourself a copy of `The Wicker Man' now!! The fourth and final story is close to brilliant and actually takes place IN the wraparound story, which is pretty unique. Veteran actor Herbert Lom stars in this tale that enlightens a whole new kind of `voodoo'. It has blood-thirsty, lifelike manikins and it's bloody good fun. A creepy highlight and an appropriate closure to a good film. Sure as hell recommended for the British horror fans amongst you! Asylum is well written by Robert Bloch (who adapted his own stories) and solidly directed by Roy Ward Baker, who also did some good work for the famous `Hammer' corporation.

If I may proclaim some shameless promotion: Asylum recently got re-released in a worthy Amicus Box Set! The set is uniquely shaped like a coffin and contains – besides Asylum – other highlights such as `The House that Dripped Blood', `The Beast Must Die', `And now the Screaming Starts' and `Dr. Terror's House of Horror'. Trust me, it'll look great in your collection.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Adapting Robert Bloch

7/10
Author: Space_Mafune from Newfoundland, Canada
27 December 2003

4 short story adaptations of Robert Bloch stories. I will look at them in order they appear...

"Frozen Fear": short story of a man who attempts to cut himself off from a loveless marriage in order to take up with his mistress by a rather inventive means of murder only some things don't seem to want to stay dead. Short, but effective and creepy with a terrific ending even if we are required to suspend disbelief quite a bit in a few scenes.

"The Weird Tailor": a tailor desperate for money agrees to, at the request of an unusual elderly customer (played by Peter Cushing), to make a special suit out of a very strange type of fabric. Only when he delivers it, he discovers the elderly customer actually has no money to pay and even more shocking is the true purpose of this bizarre suit. This is the best of these tales. However, to be honest, I much prefer the adaptation from the "Thriller" series.

"Lucy Comes To Stay": a tale of psychosis as Lucy (Charlotte Rampling) returns home from the mental hospital, presumed cured, only it seems the naughty girlfriend who landed Lucy in trouble to begin has started to visit her in secret as well. Actually this is not at all bad, it just runs a little too long for my liking. Still there's some quality about Charlotte Rampling I find irresistible.

"Mannikens of Horror": the framing story for the others in the series as a new doctor visits a mental hospital and discovers that the Doctor who called him there is now a patient in the ward. He's told he can have the job if he can identify which patient upstairs is that Doctor. Finally he comes to believe the individual is a strange fellow who makes small lifelike figures, into which he plans to place his conscience and use as his means of escape. A number of startling twists here, fine stars like Patrick Magee and Herbert Lom, make this both entirely unpredictable and honestly quite good.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

ASYLUM (Roy Ward Baker, 1972) ***

7/10
Author: MARIO GAUCI (marrod@melita.com) from Naxxar, Malta
22 October 2006

Linking story: this was one I had for some reason missed out on a number of times on TV, and I'm certainly glad I've watched it now in this definitive DVD edition; it has perhaps the best linking narrative of the three Amicus anthologies in the set, with Moussorgsky's "Night On Bald Mountain" music (to say nothing of a remarkable sequence of shots where the protagonist, and us with him, is mesmerized by a number of disturbing illustrations that are lined up on the walls along the asylum staircase) effectively setting the scene for its rather weird psychological concept that someone can 'hide' in the person of another (actually recalling the original story that THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD [1951] was based on, though I wonder how intentional this was...then again, John Carpenter's 1982 version was still ten years away, so perhaps Robert Bloch thought that an idea discarded by Howard Hawks was certainly good enough for him!); anyway, the cast is pretty strong even for a mere 'device' such as this sequence appears to be (alas, the one with John Bryans and John Bennett for THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD [1970] doesn't quite cut it in comparison though, as in that film, the fourth story here is effectively integrated with the scene-setting narrative), led by a fresh-faced but credible Robert Powell, a surprisingly subdued Patrick Magee and the characteristically Machiavellian figure of Geoffrey Bayldon.

"Frozen Fear": while no one individual episode particularly stands out from the rest, all are played for what they're worth by a succession of fine performers starting with Barbara Parkins, Richard Todd and Sylvia Syms in the first story; the central idea of dismembered limbs taking a life of their own is preposterous really (though I guess it can be explained by the mystical amulet worn by the Sylvia Syms character) but quite cleverly done actually (and it's certainly not a first - or last - for Amicus themselves); it does, however, give a distinctly surrealistic flavor to the scene that kind of offsets its inherent grimness and sensationalism.

"The Weird Tailor": the second story is also the longest and, in a way, most effective one; Barry Morse dominates this segment as the pitiful tailor asked by the mysterious and typically fussy Peter Cushing (who gets a memorable entrance here) to make him a suit from a rare and very special fabric; the center-piece takes place in Cushing's mausoleum-like mansion, where the grief he shows over his dead son is all too real for the actor himself - having lost his beloved wife of many years only a few months before (in fact, I'm surprised Cushing accepted such a role); the final twist is quite effective, and also looks forward to the fourth episode in the film.

"Lucy Comes To Stay": there is some consternation regarding this segment because it is said to slow down the film (allegedly it was originally intended as the opening story but producer Milton Subotsky changed the order of the scenes in Robert Bloch's script around) but I really didn't feel that it affected the overall pace of the film in any major way; if anything, it's the most 'realistic' of the four episodes (preceding the last, and perhaps most fanciful, tale) with fine performances by all concerned but especially, of course, Charlotte Rampling and Britt Ekland - whose relationship to one another (misleadingly hinting at lesbianism throughout) is a bit too close for comfort; the final revelation is not particularly startling in this case, but subtly handled nonetheless.

"Mannikins Of Horror": its 'soul transference' concept tying up to a degree with the main idea of the film, this bizarre installment is taken as far as it can go without crossing the boundary into the ridiculous; the robots on display here are clumsy, unattractive machines but their 'supernatural' connotations (echoes also of the superb "Sweets To The Sweet" story from THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD) certainly make for an effectively nasty climax, and Herbert Lom is persuasive in his small but incredible role; as in THE BEAST MUST DIE (1974), by the end we have to guess the true identity of one of the characters we got to meet during the course of the film - this one is not too difficult perhaps, but the sudden burst of violence that it produces (not to mention an ironic conclusion) gives the whole an unsettling power that is hard to shake off!

Now to the disc itself and the accompanying extras: like the other entries in this Collection, we get a very good transfer indeed under the circumstances. The Audio Commentary is a well-balanced talk with director Roy Ward Baker producing the factoids, while cameraman Neil Binney handles the more technical aspects of the production; Jonathan Sothcott efficiently moderates the discussion. The featurette "Inside The Fear Factory" is a fun little documentary that takes a peek into the Amicus filmography; unfortunately, it is rather short for its purpose and the footage it presents is restricted to the films on offer in this Box Set (which seems to indicate, regrettably, that Anchor Bay UK do not currently have a follow-up set in the pipeline!). Film notes, bios and a poster/stills gallery are typical of the stuff that comes with each disc in the Collection.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Very entertaining horror anthology with a first rate cast.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
18 February 2004

'Asylum' holds a special place in my heart as watching it on TV as a kid in the 70s is one of my earliest horror memories, along with Rod Serling's almost forgotten series 'Night Gallery' and the underrated Cushing/Lee movie 'The Creeping Flesh'. I watched 'Asylum' the other day for the first time in oh, twenty years at least, and while it wasn't anywhere near as scary as I remember it to be, it's still one of the better horror anthologies of the period. It's helped considerably by having Robert Bloch adapt his own stories, Roy Ward Baker ('The Vampire Lovers', 'Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde') as the director, and it features a first rate cast including horror legends Peter Cushing, Patrick Magee, and Herbert Lom. The most effective stories for me were the two in the middle - the one with Barry Morse as a tailor with a mysterious client (Cushing), and the other with a fragile Charlotte Rampling being led astray by the sexy Britt Ekland. 'Asylum' has a few flaws sure, but it's still a very entertaining film, and horror buffs will enjoy it.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Another superb horror anthology from Amicus!

10/10
Author: manchester_england2004 from Manchester, England, UK
31 July 2009

ASYLUM is the fifth in a series of seven Amicus horror anthologies. If THE MONSTER CLUB is included as part of the series, this would make eight movies. Although, that movie is very different from the others.

I look upon the Amicus anthologies with great memories as I used to love them when I was in my teens. My feelings for them today are just as strong.

ASYLUM may no longer be my favourite of the Amicus horror anthologies. But it is the first one I saw and as such holds a special place in my heart.

There are three identifiable stories in this movie. Although, unlike the other Amicus anthologies, the linking story is much more prominent and as such acts as a fourth.

The movie starts with Robert Powell as a young doctor driving to an Dunsmoor Asylum, an asylum for the incurable insane. The opening credits play over his journey with the famous "A Night on Bald Mountain" used for the score. With a magnificent example of classical music being used to score the movie, I knew it was going to be an enjoyable experience.

When Powell arrives at the asylum, he finds out that the head of the institution, Dr. Starr, has himself now become an inmate. His associate, Dr. Rutherford, sets Powell a test to judge his ability to take the job. The test - meet the inmates and identify which one is Dr. Starr.

Powell then goes up to meet the inmates and is introduced to the orderly, played by Geoffrey Bayldon. I loved Bayldon's performance here and consider it to be one of the best of his career. At 85 and still going strong, I wish him a happy life in the remainder of his retirement.

Each of the three stories begins with Powell introducing himself to the inmates.

The first story involves Barbara Parkins who has made plans to run off with her lover, played by Richard Todd. Unfortunately, Todd's wife, played by Sylvia Syms, stands in the way. Todd decides to kill his wife, dismember her body and wrap each part up neatly in brown paper. The body parts are then left in a freezer in the cellar. Unfortunately, Todd's wife won't let him leave quite so easily! This story moves along slowly at times but features good performances by the three actors.

The second story involves Barry Morse as a tailor facing eviction from his shop because he can't afford to pay the rent. A sinister customer, played to perfection by the late great Peter Cushing, asks him to make a suit from unusual material. Cushing tells him that the suit is a gift for his son. But it turns out his son is dead! I will spoil no more but I will state that I really enjoyed this story and fail to understand why it is so heavily bashed by IMDb users. The story is worth seeing just for Cushing's performance alone. But Barry Morse should be given recognition for giving the performance of his career as the somewhat nervous tailor trying hard to get the suit finished in time.

The third story sees Charlotte Rampling returning home after a stay in a mental hospital. Her brother, played superbly by the great professional, James Villiers, acts caring for his sister but has a sinister side that makes the audience question his loyalties. Anyway, Rampling sees her friend, Lucy, played by Britt Ekland, after taking some pills. Ekland persuades Rampling to run off with her and leave her brother behind. This story takes a series of twists and turns before reaching its disturbing conclusion. Rampling's performance as a young woman with a seemingly split personality is easily one of the best in the movie.

The remainder of the movie takes place in the asylum and this constitutes the final story. Powell meets a seemingly calm rational doctor, played by the great Herbert Lom, one of my all-time favourite actors. Lom has created a series of mechanical figures, including one of himself. He tries persuading those around him that he can bring the figure to life but everyone thinks he's crazy. But could he be right? Watch and see.

The linking story works so well due to the superb performance delivered by Robert Powell. His performance as a seemingly confident yet naive young doctor was genuinely believable and he held my attention in every scene he was in.

Patrick Magee should not be forgotten either. His performance as the aging experienced doctor was believable because he was seen to have flaws that remind us all that experience is not something to be relied upon as a sole strength when dealing with tough challenges.

Roy Ward Baker directs the movie and many of his styles are evident here. He makes excellent use of "A Night on Bald Mountain" to score the movie, ensuring it fits with the somewhat Gothic setting. His other choices of music have an orchestral Gothic style that ensure consistency and help build suspense and tension, something particularly evident in the final story. Baker makes excellent use of camera angles to hook the audience with something quirky or sinister, draw them in slowly and then deliver a sudden shock out of nowhere. These styles were also used on many of his other movies but it is here where it works best.

The scripting is carefully put together so the movie distances itself from its four predecessors. The choice of using part of the linking story to act as the final story was a wise decision since it's actually better than the other three.

Overall, ASYLUM is a must-see for fans of the Amicus anthologies, fans of other Amicus movies or fans of portmanteau horror movies. If my summary provides the movie with enough appeal in your eyes, check it out. You'll enjoy it!

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A lost classic

7/10
Author: lucky_dice_mgt from United States
12 February 2007

Very good photography, acting, dialog set this horror anthology above most others. There is a clever beginning which then evolves into 4 separate stories of individuals inside an asylum. The 1st story is the most gruesome. The 2nd story is the most intriguing and also has Peter Cushing in it doing a excellent job as usual. The 3rd story is the weakest and the 4 th story ties into the twist ending. With each story only lasting an average of 15 minutes, they keep the viewers interest. This also has a nice soundtrack { something almost totally missing from todays horror crap,remkaes and sequels} . For those of us who like style, originality and solid acting in our horror films, this deserves a look.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful early 70's horror anthology from British company Amicus!

8/10
Author: Paul Andrews (poolandrews@hotmail.com) from UK
31 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Asylum starts with Doctor Martin (Robert Powell) driving along a gloomy English country road. He stops at an Asylum for the incurably insane run by Dr. B. Starr, at which he hopes to be interviewed by Dr. Starr about the position of Senior Houseman. Upon his arrival Martin is taken to the wheelchair bound Dr. Rutherford (Patrick Magee) who explains that Dr. Starr is now a patient & has completely lost his mind. Rutherford sets Martin a test, if Martin can identify Dr. Starr by speaking to the patients then the job is his. Martin is shown four different patients by the Asylum's orderly, Max Reynolds (Geoffrey Bayldon). Each patient has a tale to tell, first up it's Bonnie in a story entitled 'Frozen Fear'.

In this first segment Bonnie (Barbara Parkins) is having an affair with a married man named Walter (Richard Todd). Together they have devised a plan to kill Walter's wife Ruth (Sylvia Syms) who is currently dabbling in Voodoo in her spare time. Walter murders Ruth, chops her body up & puts the pieces in a large freezer. Everything is going perfectly, that is until Walter starts to hear strange noises & goes to investigate.................

Next Martin is introduced to Bruno whose story is called 'The Weird Tailor'. Bruno (Barry Morse) is finding business tough & when his landlord Stebbins (John Franklyn-Robbins) threatens to evict him unless he can pay the rent within a week Bruno's shop & life's work look doomed. That is until a strange man calls into the shop named Smith (Peter Cushing), Smith wants a suit made out of a special material & in a certain way for which he will pay £200. Bruno accepts & gets to work finishing the suit in four nights. Everything looks good for Bruno as he delivers the suit to Smith, unfortunately things don't go according to plan & the suit itself turns out to possess some unique qualities.....................

Then Martin talks with Barbara who tells a tale called 'Lucy Comes To Stay'. Barbara (Charlotte Rampling) is being driven home by her brother George (James Villiers) after having been in Hospital for a while. George has hired a nurse Miss Higgins (Megs Jenkins) to look after Barbara & generally treats her like a child. However, Barbara has a friend named Lucy (Britt Ekland) who, as it turns out, isn't a very nice person................

Finally Max introduces Martin to Byron (Herbert Lom) who, like the others, has a story to tell. His is called 'Mannequins Of Horror' which sets itself within the Asylum & involves everyone there..................

Directed by Roy Ward Baker I thoroughly enjoyed Asylum & I think it's easily one of the best films of it's type. The script by Robert Bloch delivers what a horror anthology should, good solid stories that are well paced & end in memorable twists, a good wraparound story & one final twist that I honestly didn't see coming. My favourite story is 'Frozen Fear', my least favourite was 'The Weird Tailor' but that is merely comparing them to each other as 'The Weird Tailor' would probably beat anything in most horror anthologies. I loved the Britishness of Asylum, it's 70's fashions, horrible garish wallpaper & general feel throughout! The score by Douglas Gamely is great, especially the main theme. There is no blood or violence in Asylum to speak of, plus a few of the special effects look as dated as Robert Powell's hairstyle & suit! Acting is solid throughout by the almost all-star cast of genre veterans, with Cushing & Lom both standing out as being as excellent as they usually are. Technically Asylum is well made & has a lot of atmosphere. Personally I think Asylum is brilliant at what it tries to achieve, I don't think I'll ever grow tired of watching this little gem of a British horror film. Fans of this type of film should seek it out immediately, for everyone else I would say give it a go as I'm sure most people would gain at least some entertainment from it & I'm positive that you won't that ending coming! Highly recommended & I don't give films 8/10 that often.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Fun horror film

Author: movie_obsessive from England
21 July 2004

This is a fun film to watch if your after a good horror flick. Sometimes it verges on cheesy but there's enough creepy moments to prevent it being tacky. Some great performances especially from Charlotte Rampling. The story goes along fine until the end when it looses its way slightly. However, this is a good horror film which shows that you don't need blood and gore to make a horror film. The soundtrack adds to the mood of the film. This is written by the same man who wrote Psycho, which is evident in the Barbara story(think Norman Bates). I would recommend avid horror films to watch this film especially if you like a twist at the end of a film. Watch out for Patrick Magee (from A Clockwork Orange)who has the role a doctor in this film.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Arguably Amicus's Best Film

8/10
Author: m2mallory from California
2 February 2007

From the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s the British-based film studio Amicus was a rival to the more famous and productive Hammer Films. Amicus didn't go in for Gothics, as a rule, but they mastered the art of the so-called "portmanteau" film, where four or five short stories are presented within a linking framework. They also mastered the art of hiring noted(and often very fine) British actors for only a day or two's worth of shooting, so that the final product ends up with an all-star cast. "Asylum" followed 1965's "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors," which was immensely fun, if incredibly cheap; 1967's "Torture Garden," 1970's "The House that Dripped Blood," and 1972's "Tales From the Crypt," and one can argue that it is the best of the lot ("The Vault of Horror" and "From Beyond the Grave" followed in 1973, and the mini-genre wrapped up in 1980 with "The Monster Club," but all of those were somewhat inferior to the earlier films). The success of "Asylum" is not simply due to it's terrific cast -- Peter Cushing (who appeared in nearly all of Amicus's portmanteau films), Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee, Richard Todd, Britt Ekland, Barbara Parkins, Charlotte Rampling, Sylvia Sims, Robert Powell, Barry Morse and the undersung Geoffrey Bayldon -- or its intriguing stories by American author Robert Bloch (who also scripted "Torture Garden" and "House that Dripped Blood"), but also the down-to-earth direction by Roy Ward Baker. Baker manages to keep his, Bloch's, and his actors' tongues all out of their cheeks, and the film is all the better for it.

The framing story concerns a new doctor (Powell) interviewing at a remote asylum, and being challenged by the doctor in charge (Magee, a brilliant Shakespearean actor who all too often ended up doing inferior horror films) to identify the former director of the place, who is now an inmate. As Powell interviews the various inmates, the different stories ensue. For horror film fans, the best story is the first one (which was not the first one in the script, but was elevated to that position over Bloch's objections); while not giving the plot away, suffice to say that it takes a story device that could have been rendered very cheesily and makes it wonderfully effective and creepy. Amicus buffs, meanwhile, will recognize the linking story as probably the most effective and logical of any in the portmanteau series of films. The remaining stories are all fine, with the most outré being the one that Cushing stars in.

"Asylum" is definitely worth, uh, checking into.

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