Asylum (1972)

UK, USA, 1972
88m
35mm film, Technicolor, 1.85:1
mono, English
Reviewed at The EOFFTV Review

A British/American anthology horror film directed by Roy Ward Baker.

Plot Summary

Dr Martin arrives at a psychiatric hospital for a job interview. Dr Rutherford and his shifty orderly inform him that one of the staff, Dr Starr, has gone insane and is now incarcerated in the hospital; if Martin wants the job, he must decide which one of four patients is the missing doctor. He hears the stories of a murdered wife who returns from the grave looking for revenge; a tailor who makes a most unusual suit; a woman who comes to believe that her malevolent brother is conspiring against her; and a man who builds toy robots with suspiciously realistic human heads.

Credits

* = uncredited

Crew
Directed by: Roy Ward Baker
© Amicus Productions Ltd. MCMLXXII [1972]
Harbor Productions Inc. presents an Amicus production
Executive Producer: Gustave Berne
Produced by: Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky
Written by: Robert Bloch
Director of Photography: Denys Coop
Editor: Peter Tanner
Music Composed, Arranged and Conducted by: Douglas Gamley
Sound Mixer: Norman Bolland
Wardrobe Mistress: Bridget Sellers
Chief Make-up: Roy Ashton
Chief Hairdresser: Joan Carpenter
Special Effects: Ernie Sullivan *
Art Director: Tony Curtis

Cast
Frozen Fear
Barbara Parkins (Bonnie)
Richard Todd (Walter)
Sylvia Sims (Ruth)

The Weird Taylor
Peter Cushing (Smith)
Barry Morse (Bruno)
Ann Firbank (Anna)
John Franklyn-Robbins (Stebbins)

Lucy Comes to Stay
Britt Ekland (Lucy)
Charlotte Rampling (Barbara)
James Villiers (George)
Megs Jenkins (Miss Higgins)

Manninkins of Horror
Herbert Lom (Dr Byron)
Patrick Magee (Dr Rutherford)
Robert Powell (Dr Martin)
Geoffrey Bayldon (Max)

Alternative Titles

Asylum – Irrgarten des Schreckens – German title
Hospitalet – Swedish title
House of Crazies – US 1980 re-release title
House on the Strand – German video title
La morte dietro il cancello – Italian title
Refugio macabro – Spanish title

Press

1972
CinemaTV Today no.9992 (5 August 1972) p.19
There is a sameness about these stories that makes the mixture flat. Not that the plots are similar, but the mood of each is hysterical and there are no surprises. They are the sort of stories that read better than they play because little is left for the imagination to feed on once the horrors are made visual. – from a review (The new films) by Marjorie Bilbow

Daily Variety 31 July 1972 p.3, 7 (USA)
Here is another dependable programmer off the Amicus beltline. Trim little chiller has a moderate quota of blood and mayhem, polished performances, smooth direction. It also boasts some imaginative props – like the severed limbs, etc., of Sylvia Syms metaphysically killing her murderer and errant husband, Richard Todd, and his sweetie Barbara Parkins. […] All production values are first rate, and the mood stuff, through conventional, is nicely sustained. Roy Ward Baker has directed with obvious confidence. – from a review by Pit.

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.39 no.464 (September 1972) p.183 (UK)
The third Amicus film deriving from short stories by Robert Bloch has no single tale to match either the extraordinary girl-witch episode from The House That Dripped Blood or Poe’s resurrection at the climax of Torture Garden; but its elaborate framing device is in certain respects more ingenious than either. […] [A]s he explores the Gothic trappings of the asylum with its Hogarth prints and long black corridors, Roy Ward Baker approaches the subject with considerable visual ingenuity. The first episode is a hilariously gruesome piece involving a dismembered corpse, wrapped in neat parcels of brown paper which perambulate around the room, grabbing at their victim; and after a disappointing foray involving a tailor’s dummy, the film recovers a sound footing with the bizarre story of a drug-addicted adolescent who creates an imaginary ‘best friend’ called Lucy, and in this guise murders her brother and nurse. The film never quite recaptures the intensity of this episode, but its final accumulation of atrocities is paced with Bloch’s usual enterprise and good humour, notably the stabbing of the psychiatrist with his own scalpel as he busily extols the virtues of pre-frontal lobotomy. – from a review by David Pirie

References

Periodicals

  • Castle of Frankenstein no.19 p.4
  • Cinefantastique vol.2 no.4 (Summer 1973) p.19 – review
  • CinemaTV Today no.9975 (8 April 1972) p.22 – credits
  • CinemaTV Today no.9992 (5 August 1972) p.19 – credits, review (The new films by Marjorie Bilbow)
  • Daily Variety 31 July 1972 p.3, 7 – credits, synopsis, review (by Pit)
  • Ecran 74 no.26 (June 1974) pp.64-65 – illustrated credits, review (by G. Lenne)
  • Filmfacts vol.15 no.18 (1972) pp.439-440 – reprinted reviews
  • Films and Filming vol.19 no.2 (November 1972) pp.50-51 – review
  • Halls of Horror no.27 p.16 – review
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.222 no.24 (4 August 1972) p.3 – credits, review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.39 no.464 (September 1972) p.183 – credits, synopsis, review (by David Pirie)
  • Sight & Sound vol.3 no.6 (June 1993) p.68 – video review
  • Variety (2 August 1972) p.18 – credits
  • Video Watchdog no.64 (October 2000) pp.6-7 – illustrated review (by Tim Lucas)

Books

  • American International Pictures: A Comprehensive Filmography by Rob Craig¬† p.42
  • Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood by Allan Bryce (ed) – credits, synopsis, production notes, review
  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.246
  • The Director’s Cut by Roy Ward Baker – production notes
  • Elliot’s Guide to Films on Video by John Elliot p.39 – credits, review
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.206, 225, 237, 372
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.373
  • Film Review 1973-74 by F. Maurice Speed (ed) p.212
  • Hoffman’s Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.28 – credits, review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.15-16
  • Horror Film Handbook by Alan Frank pp.14-15 – credits, review
  • Horror Films of the 1970s by John Kenneth Muir pp.162-164 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Peter Cushing by Deborah Del Vecchio and Tom Johnson (USA: McFarland (1992)) – credits, synopsis, production notes, review
  • Peter Cushing: The Gentle Man of Horror and His 91 Films by Deborah Del Vecchio and Tom Johnson pp.305-311
  • Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.18 – credits
  • Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.34-35