Asylum (1972)

Genres - Horror, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Nov 17, 1972 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Donald Guarisco

Asylum is a textbook example of the skill that Amicus Productions showed for producing entertaining horror anthology films. Robert Bloch's script is built on an ingenious hook -- it has a psychologist listening to patients' stories so he can identify which patient is the asylum's former head doctor -- and this approach allows the stories to flow together in a natural manner. Some of the stories are stronger than others (the one revolving around Charlotte Rampling is probably the weakest of the bunch), but the clever framework ensures they all work together as a piece. Director Roy Ward Baker helms the proceedings with subtle style, giving them moody lighting and artful camera movements that enhance the spooky mood without ever overdoing it. Another key aspect of Asylum's appeal is that, like most of the Amicus anthologies, it has a star-studded cast that is fun to watch. The scene stealers here include Richard Todd as a scheming husband, Peter Cushing as a customer who makes odd demands on his tailor, and Herbert Lom as an asylum patient with the unusual habit of making small mannequins. It all adds up to an old-fashioned blast of horror-movie fun. Thus, Asylum is a solid choice for genre fans in search of some old-fashioned chills.