Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 24th, 2018
BluRay released: January 16th, 2018 (Amicus Collection Box Set), December 19th, 2017 (Individual Blu-ray Release)
Approximate running times: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $54.99 (Amicus Collection Box Set), $24.99 (Asylum – Individual Blu-ray Release)
Synopsis: The asylum is left shorthanded, after its lead physician Dr. Starr has nervous breakdown that led to him being admitted into the asylum for treatment. His replacement Dr. Martin, arrives for his interview only to discover about Dr. Starr’s nervous breakdown. Dr. Rutherford, who has taken over as the lead doctor of the asylum, informs Dr. Martin in order to gain employment. He has to discover without any clues, which one of the patients is Dr. Starr?
Asylum, like majority of Amicus’s production’s, is a collection of stories which are linked by an outer framework that brings them all together in the end. There is a total of five stories that make up the films plot. The first and main story is that of Dr. Martin, who interviews the various patience’s at the asylum. The second story is about husband, who will do anything, even commit murder to leave his wife for his mistress. The third story is about father who wants a tailor to make his son a suit, out of the most unusual fabric. The fourth story is about a demented woman, whose imaginary friend does bad things to those who are close to her. The final tale is about a patient, who has the power to transfer his soul into dolls, which he uses to do his evil bidding.
Asylum was directed by Roy Ward Baker whose other notable films include, Don’t Bother to Knock, A Night to Remember, “The Avengers”, Quatermass and the Pit, The Vampire Lovers, And Now The Screaming Starts! and The Monster Club. His direction in Asylum is polished and it complements the stories perfectly, without ever getting to flashy.
The screenplay for Asylum was written by Robert Block, an author who will forever be remembered for writing the novel Psycho. In all, he would collaborate with Amicus Productions six times. Beginning with The Skull and culminating with Asylum. Each of the stories featured in Asylum are genuinely creepy and unique.
This film features a superb cast and the performances are all very good. With this film’s most memorable performance being Britt Ekland (After the Fox, The Wicker Man) in the role of Lucy, the imaginary friend with psychopath tendencies. Other notable cast members include, Charlotte Rampling (The Damned, Zardoz), Peter Cushing (The Hound of the Baskervilles, Corruption), Herbert Lom (99 Women, Mark of the Devil) and Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange, The Black Cat). Ultimately, Asylum is classic British horror and essentially viewing of all fans of this genre of films.
Asylum comes on a 50 GB dual layer (42.9 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release has been sourced from vault elements. The source is in great shape, colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels remain strong throughout and grain remain intact. And when compared to this film’s previous home video releases, this new transfer is superior in every way.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a Dolby Digital mono mix in Spanish. The English audio mix sounds, clean, clear, balanced and robust, when it needs too. Included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a reversible cover art, two trailers for the film (1 minute 31 seconds and 1 minute 26 seconds), a 1972 on-set report from BBC titled Two’s a Company (18 minutes 18 seconds), a featurette titled David J. Schow on Robert Bloch (20 minutes 55 seconds), a featurette titled Fiona Subotsky Remembers Milton Subotsky (9 minutes 38 seconds), a featurette titled Inside The Fear Factory (20 minutes 28 seconds) and an audio commentary with director Roy Ward Baker and camera operator Neil Binney.
The extra titled Two’s a Company features interviews with producer Milton Subotsky, Roy Ward Baker, actors Charlotte Rampling, James Villiers, Megs Jenkins, art director Tony Curtis and production manager Teresa Bolland. This extra include background information about Amicus and comments about working for Amicus and Asylum.
The extra titled Fiona Subotsky Remembers Milton Subotsky provides a more personal look into one of the men behind Amicus Productions.
The extra titled Inside The Fear Factory features comments from Roy Ward Baker, Freddie Francis and producer Max J. Rosenberg. Topics discussed in this extra include, the origins of Amicus Productions, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, The Deadly Bees and Milton Subotsky’s editing improved the film, The House That Dripped Blood, Tales from the Crypt, Asylum, And Now the Screaming Starts!, The Beast Must Die and the demise of Amicus Productions.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the cast, Oakley Court (the film’s main location), their opinions about shooting on location verses on a sound-stage, the visuals, Robert Bloch / the screenplay, editor Peter Tanner and special effects / makeup effects.
Asylum is also part of a box set entitled The Amicus Collection and this release comes with a fourth disc entitled The Vault of Amicus. Extras on this disc include, Phil Nutman’s audio Interview with Milton Subotsky (3 hours I minute 16 seconds) and Jonathan Sothcott’s audio Interview with Max Rosenberg (47 minutes 28 seconds). Included with these two extras are stills and posters.
Topics discussed in the interview with Milton Subotsky include, the origins of Amicus, background information about the majority of Amicus’s films and the demise of Amicus. It should be noted that there is a tape missing from this conversation and because of this, Vault of Horror and And Now the Screaming Starts!, are not discussed.
Topics discussed in the interview with Max Rosenberg include, background information about the majority of Amicus’s films and Milton Subotsky.
Other extras include, these trailers, Horror Hotel (The City of the Dead), Ring-A-Ding Rhythm (It’s Trad, Dad!), Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, Dr. Who and the Daleks, The Skull, Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., The Psychopath, The Deadly Bees, Torture Garden, Danger Route, They Came from Beyond Space, The Terrornauts, The Birthday Party, Thank You All Very Much (A Touch of Love), Scream and Scream Again, The Mind of Mr. Soames, The House That Dripped Blood, I, Monster, What Became of Jack and Jill?, Asylum, Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, And Now the Screaming Starts!, From Beyond the Grave, Madhouse, The Beast Must Die, The Land That Time Forgot, At the Earth’s Core, The People That Time Forgot, The Uncanny and The Monster Club. These trailers can be viewed in sequence or separately and included with these trailers is an audio commentary with British Horror film writers Kim Newman & David Flint.
Rounding out the extras is a T.V. spot for The Creatures (From Beyond the Grave), Torture Garden, The People That Time Forgot, Vault of Horror, The Skull, Asylum and Tales from the Crypt.
Overall Asylum gets a solid release from Severin Films.
Note: This film is available as part of The Amicus Collection and individual Blu-ray release.