31 Days of Horror: Asylum

After enjoying The House that Dripped Blood so thoroughly the other night, I decided to dive into another of Amicus Productions’ portmanteau films. This one was Asylum (1972)

Like THtDB, Asylum features four(ish) short films wrapped inside a framing story: a young doctor arrives for a job interview at a mental asylum only to find the administrator has been admitted as a patient for attacking his colleague, Dr. Rutherford. Rutherford is now running the asylum and challenges the young doctor to interview the four patients in the upstairs wing and deduce which was is the former administrator. If he chooses correctly, the job is his. The patients include a woman whose plan to murder her lover’s wife went horribly askew; the tailor who was hired to make an extremely unusual suit; a woman whose brother and nurse were killed by her friend, “Lucy”; and lastly a surgeon who’s making tiny robotic homunculi resembling himself and his professional acquaintances. I say four(ish) stories because three are contained short films, while the fourth bleeds directly into the framing story.

The cast is again composed of B-list British actors, and not nearly as interesting as the performers in The House that Dripped Blood. Peter Cushing returns (bringing this year’s Lee to Cushing ratio to 3:2), along with Patrick Magee (who played the victimized writer in A Clockwork Orange), Charlotte Rampling (Zardoz, Orca, and The Verdict), and Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man) making up the remaining most recognizable stars.

The individual films aren’t as entertaining as those in House, although again Robert Block returns as writer. They’re all largely in the EC comics vein of horror and anyone whose read an issue of Eerie or watched Tales from the Crypt will likely see where things are headed long before the plot train leaves the station. Only the second story, with Peter Cushing, had me wondering how things were going to play out and wrapped up in a way I didn’t expect.

While not as solid a film as The House that Dripped Blood, Asylum was still entertaining enough to score 3 out of 5 skulls. I’m not likely to rewatch it again anytime soon, but it did wonders to wash the taste of Blood Bath out of my mouth.

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