Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 6th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: UK, 1972
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Robert Block
Cast: Peter Cushing, Charlotte Rampling, Herbert Lom, Britt Ekland
DVD released: July 25th, 2006
Approximate running time: 89 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
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 Asylumis 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 is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors look nicely saturated and details look sharp through out. Outside of noticeable grain this is the best the film has ever looked on home video.
This release comes with one audio option the films original English language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other sounds defects. Outside of a few minor instances when the audio sounds a tad too thin the rest of the mix more then gets the job done. Removable subtitles have also been included.
Extras include trailers for Asylum, And Now the Screaming Starts and The Beast Must Die, a still gallery, text bios for cast and crew members. Other extras include the twenty minute documentary titled Inside the Fear Factory, which includes interviews with Max Rosenberg, Roy Ward Baker, and Freddie Francis. The interviews are all great as the various participants discuss the history of Amicus films. The final extra include for this release is an audio commentary with Roy Ward Baker (director), Neil Binney (cameraman) and this track is moderated by Marcus Hearn. This release also comes with a DVD insert that includes liner notes about Asylum written by Chris Gullo.
Asylum had been previous released in the UK as part of Anchor Bay’s Amicus Collection. And Dark Sky Films, wisely ports over all the extras included from that release for their release. Now fans in region 1 of Amicus and Asylum can finally own a DVD edition of that is truly worthy of this exceptional film.