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Asylum 
Written by: 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
Rating:
PG
Sound:
Dolby Digital mono
DVD Release:
Dark Sky Films
Region Coding:
Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price:
$19.98

The Asylum is shorthanded after its lead Doctor Starr has nervous breakdown and has to be admitted into the asylum for treatment. Doctor Martin arrives for his interview with Doctor Starr only to find out about his sickness. Doctor Rutherford has taken over as the lead doctor of the asylum and if Doctor Martin is able to deduct without any clues which one of the patients is Doctor Starr he will be given a job at the asylum?

The Asylum like most Amicus productions is a collection of stories which tie each other together in the end. There are a total of five stories that make up the films plot. The first and main story is that of Doctor Martin who interviews the various patience’s that tell him them their stories while he tries to figure out who is Doctor Starr?  The second story is about husband who will do anything even commit murder to leave his wife for his mistress. The third story is a 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 who has an imaginary friend who does bad things like kill those 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 who directed several episodes for the television series “The Avengers” and he also was one of Hammer studio’s most prolific directors. His direction in Asylum is polished and it compliments the stories perfectly without ever getting to flashy. The screenplay was written by Robert Block who will forever be remembered for writing the Novel “Psycho”. Each of the stories that make up Asylums main plot are genuinely creepy and unique. The best of the lot would have to be the fourth tale with actresses Charlotte Rampling and Britt Ekland. Both actress give chilling performances. The film also features other great performances by Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom and Patrick Magee. Douglas Gamley’s majestic score is pitch-perfect.

Overall Asylum is classic British horror and essentially viewing of all fans of this genre of films.

The DVD:

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. 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.

For more information about Asylum and other Amicus titles released by Dark Sky Films visit their website.

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