Asylum (1972) movie poster

director Roy Ward Baker
viewed: 07/11/2015

Though I’m familiar with a number of Amicus Production’s horror titles, I don’t know that I’ve seen very many of the British film company’s movies.  Even over the years, I don’t know how many of these I saw or didn’t see, though I’m guessing mostly that I hadn’t seen any.  With films like Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965), The Skull (1965), The Deadly Bees (1966) I, Monster (1971), or The Beast Must Die (1974), chances are I’ve seen a couple.  The only one that I can say for certain that I have seen, one I saw recently, was the Vincent Price flick Madhouse (1974)

These days a lot of them are available on streaming, so catching up might be relatively accessible.  And if any of their horror portmanteau films (Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965), Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1971), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Vault of Horror (1973) and From Beyond the Grave (1974)), films comprised of several shorter stories, are as good as the 1972 Asylum, then I’m all in.

In fact, Asylum is terrific.  Directed by Roy Ward Baker (Quatermass and the Pit (1967), The Vampire Lovers (1970)) and adapted by Robert (Psycho (1960)) Bloch from his own horror stories, the it is truly a good descendant of the British horror portmanteau classic Dead of Night (1945).

The wrap-around story tells of a doctor who arrives at an isolated psychiatric hospital and is told that the former director is now one of the patients and he has to interview several inhabitants to figure out which of them might be the lone sane member of the asylum.  Featuring a cast including Peter Cushing, Charlotte Rampling, Britt Ekland, Robert Powell, Herbert Lom, Barry Morse, and Patrick Magee sprinkled throughout the tales, the stories are all inventive, eerie, and surprising.

Really, if anything, I was surprised how much I liked this movie and how good it was.  Top notch stuff!