Released by Amicus Productions, “Asylum” also known as “House of Crazies,” is a horror anthology film directed by Roy Ward Baker and released in 1972. It was produced by Milton Subotsky and written by Robert Bloch, a popular horror writer at the time.
Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) arrives as an asylum for the “incurably insane.” He is supposed to start there as a doctor but is challenged by the authoritarian director Lionel Rutherford (Patrick Magee) to figure out which patient is the former administrator, who also broke Rutherford’s leg. Martin is taken to the patient ward with the attendant Max Reynolds (Geoffrey Bayldon). From there he meets the young woman Bonnie (Barbara Parkins) accused of murdering two people, the tailor Bruno (Barry Morse) accused of murdering his client Mr. Smith (Peter Cushing) and his wife (Ann Firbank), a young heiress named Barbara (Charlotte Rampling) whose friend Lucy (Britt Ekland) is more than she seems, and finally, Dr. Byron (Herbert Lom) who claims he can bring mannequins to life.
Like most anthology films, the four stories are separated out with their own cast and scripts, using Dr. Martin’s story-arc to glue them together. With some films, you can get a jumbled mess, but this movie does a good job of keeping the story cohesive. I did find the music somewhat dated, even for the 1970s, it was not awful, but it did not add much to the story.
Now, I did feel like the climax dipped a little too much into the fanciful. At first, the stories were the grandiose claims of patients and that made them intriguing. However, as the film approaches its dramatic end, it become another typical horror picture of the 1970s that cared more about shocking the audience than actually giving them a reason to be scared or thrilled.
The movie’s big standout is the cast. Popular stars include Robert Powell, seen in many classic films, Peter Cushing, an actor known for playing historical and literary figures, Charlotte Rampling, a still-active popular stage and film actress, and Herbert Lom, who played the adversarial boss of Inspector Clouseau in the original “Pink Panther” film series. With these immensely talented actors, that made the movie incredibly enjoyable with all of their dynamite acting skills.
Bottom line, Asylum does have a somewhat predictable climax, but it is an interesting movie with each story exploring the macabre with many incredible performances by the actors and actresses on screen.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Horror images, Some foul language, Violence
FAVORITE QUOTE: Never turn your back on a patient.
Check out the trailer below:
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