Asylum (1972 film)
Asylum, AKA House of Crazies
"A polite warning: this house is not a home! Come to the Asylum... to get killed!" In order to secure a job at a mental institution, a young psychiatrist must interview four patients inside the asylum; their tales are presented as segments of this anthology horror film.
- Release Date: 1972
- Country/Language: UK, English
- Genres/Technical: Horror, Fantasy, anthology
- Runtime: 1 hr 28 min
- Starring: Barbara Parkins, Richard Todd, Sylvia Syms, Peter Cushing
- Director: Roy Ward Baker
- Writer: Robert Bloch
- Producer/Production Co: Amicus Productions, Harbour Productions Limited
- View Trailer: (link)
- IMDB Page: (link)
- Rated: PG (mild Violence and mild Adult Content)
A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:
- S____ (One Tentacle: Barely Lovecraftian)
An anthology based on a handful of short stories written by "Lovecraft Circle" member Robert Bloch; Bloch has written some "Mythos" fiction, but these really aren't examples of that. The stories might include a reference or two to some tomes or that sort of thing, but there really aren't any strong examples of cosmic horror (or even Gothic horror) on display here.
Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.
- (review needed)
Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)
When Dr. Martin goes on a job interview at a British insane asylum, he learns that he must interview the asylum's inmates in order to be considered for the position. Dr. Rutherford, who is wheelchair-bound because of an assault by an inmate, tells Dr. Martin that he will consider him for the position if he can discover which of the inmates is Dr. Starr, a former head doctor at the asylum who suffered a nervous breakdown.
- "A Home Away from Home" (Framing Story) - Dr Martin arrives at a secluded asylum "for the incurably insane" to be interviewed for a job by the wheelchair-bound, authoritarian Dr. Lionel Rutherford. Rutherford explains that he owes his current incapacitation to an attack by an inmate. Rutherford reveals his unorthodox plan to determine Martin's suitability for the post of chief doctor. One of the asylum's current inmates is Dr B. Starr, the former head of the asylum, who underwent a complete mental breakdown. Martin is to interview the inmates of the asylum to deduce which one is Dr Starr. If his choice is correct, Rutherford will "consider" him for the post. The attendant Max Reynolds admits Martin through the security door to the inmates's solitary confinement cells, where he interviews each in turn; the anthology stories are the fruit of the interviews.
- "Frozen Fear" - Bonnie recounts the plot to murder Ruth, the wealthy wife of her lover Walter. Ruth is a possessive heiress who studies voodoo. This results in horrific repercussions after Ruth's dead body has been dismembered and wrapped in individual parcels. (Can be compared to Clark Ashton Smith's "Return of the Sorceror".)
- "The Weird Tailor" - Bruno recounts how poverty forced him to accept the unusual request of a Mr. Smith to produce an elaborate suit of clothing from a mysterious, scintillating fabric that can animate anything, including the dead. After learning what the suit will be used for, Bruno fights Smith and accidentally kills him. He returns with the unsold suit. His wife Anna dresses their store mannequin in the suit, and its true powers are revealed. This story was also earlier adapted as an episode of the Boris Karloff-hosted television series Thriller.
- "Lucy Comes to Stay" - The ebullient Barbara informs Martin she has been in an asylum before. After her release from that facility, she is closely monitored at home by her brother George and a nurse, Miss Higgins. This frustrated existence is relieved when her mischievous friend Lucy comes to visit.
- "Manikins of Horror" (and Epilogue) - Martin interviews Dr. Byron, who holds Rutherford in contempt. Byron explains he is working towards soul transference with a small automaton whose head is a likeness of his own, showing Martin several earlier models. Byron plans to "will" his mannequin to life. He explains the interior of the robot is organic, a miniaturised version of his own viscera. Martin concludes his interview, and Max shows him downstairs to deliver his judgment to Rutherford. Byron successfully brings his mannequin to life; it makes its way to Rutherford's office and kills him with a scalpel. Martin destroys the mannequin, which results in the death of Dr. Byron, and seeks help. Dr. Starr's true identity is revealed: it is "Max Reynolds," who has murdered the real Reynolds two days before. He then strangles Martin to death. Sometime later, a new candidate for the job arrives and is met by Dr. Starr, who escorts him into the asylum.
Comments, Trivia, Dedication
Associated Mythos Elements
- TO DO
- fiction: compare the "Frozen Fear" segment to Clark Ashton Smith's "Return of the Sorceror (fiction)"
- fiction: based on Robert Bloch's "A Home Away From Home", "Frozen Fear", "The Weird Tailor", "Lucy Comes to Stay", "Manikins of Horror"
- series: "The Weird Tailor" was also adapted for an episode of Boris Karloff's Thriller
- series: "Manikins of Horror" was also adapted for an episode of Monsters