Absolute Horror Wiki
Advertisement
Asylum (1972 film).jpg

Asylum (also known as House of Crazies in subsequent US releases) is a 1972 British horror film made by Amicus Productions. The film was directed by Roy Ward Baker, produced by Milton Subotsky, and scripted by Robert Bloch (who adapted four of his own short stories for the screenplay).

Baker had considerable experience as a director of horror films as he had tackled Quatermass and the Pitt, and Scars of Dracula. Robert Bloch, who wrote the script for Asylum based on a series of his own short stories, was also the author of the novel Psycho, which Alfred Hitchcock directed as a film.

It is a horror anthology film, one of several produced by Amicus during the 1960s and 1970s. Others were Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Torture Garden, Tales from the Crypt, The House That Dripped Blood, The Vault of Horror, and From Beyond the Grave.

Shot in April 1972, the film was edited and set for release 15 weeks after the final day of shooting, premiering in July 1972 in the UK. The film had its North American debut on November 17, 1972.

Plot

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' solitary confinement cells, where he interviews each in turn.

This story is loosely based on Bloch's short story "A Home Away from Home," first published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and adapted for television on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Robert PowellDr. Martin

Patrick MageeDr. Lionel Rutherford

Geoffrey BayldonMax Reynolds

"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.

Barbara Parkins – Bonnie

Sylvia Syms – Ruth

Richard Todd – Walter

"The Weird Tailor"

Bruno recounts how poverty and impending eviction forced him to accept the unusual request of a Mr Smith to produce an elaborate suit of clothing from a mysterious, scintillating fabric that must be sewn only after midnight.

After learning what the suit will be used for (it will reanimate Mr Smith's deceased son) and that Mr Smith has no money to pay the tailor, Bruno fights Smith and accidentally kills him. He returns with the unsold suit. His wife Anna uses the suit to adorn their store mannequin, and its true powers are revealed when the mannequin comes to life.

This story was also earlier adapted as an episode of the Boris Karloff-hosted television series Thriller ("The Weird Tailor", Season 2, Episode 4).

Barry Morse – Bruno

Peter Cushing – Mr Smith

Ann Firbank – Anna

John Franklyn-Robbins – Stebbins

Daniel Johns – Otto the dummy

"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.

Charlotte Rampling – Barbara

Britt Ekland – Lucy

James Villiers – George

Megs Jenkins – Miss Higgins

"Mannequins of Horror"

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.

This story was later loosely adapted for the Monsters episode "Mannequins of Horror".

Herbert Lom – Dr Byron

Sylvia Marriott – Asylum head nurse

Frank Forsyth – Asylum gatekeeper

Tony Wall – New houseman

Epilogue

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 had 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.

Advertisement