Movie Review – Asylum (1972)

Director: Roy Ward Baker

Stars: Robert Powell, Britt Eklund, Peter Cushing, too many people to list really

A doctor (Powell) turns up at an asylum or an interview. He’s told that the previous doctor is now a patient, and he’ll get the job if, after interviewing three patients, he can tell which one is the doctor.

The film begins with suitably ominous music and the mystery regarding who the doctor is instantly hooks the viewer, it’s a good trick. The different stories are of varying qualities. The first deals with an adulterous husband. It’s well-worn territory but it’s elevated by some genuinely creepy effects. The second is about a poor tailor who gets an unusual contract for a special suit. It’s okay, but the desperate money situation is hammered home again and again and it gets a little repetitive. The next is a standard multiple identity story, and it’s entirely predictable and without much merit. The last is of a man who is building an army of killer robots. It’s very cheesy, especially as they’re literally miniature versions of men with tiny little organs inside.

Although the stories are of middling quality I do appreciate the anthology format and I often wish that modern movies used this structure. The director added good atmosphere and gave very creepy settings. The effects were good, adding to the unsettling quality of the film. Acting wise, it was decent all round. I liked Powell as the infuriated doctor.

Basically, I thought the film was okay, but due to the uneven qualities of the stories I can’t give it a full recommendation. It is genuinely creepy in parts though, and I do like the anthology format and the hook that gets the audience invested in the mystery.


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