Tales from the Mental Institute

Peter Cushing in Asylum (1972)

Having been invited to apply for a job at a mental institute Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) arrives and is told that part of the interview will require him to speak to four of the residents and assess their mental state. The first of these is a woman called Bonnie (Barbara Parkins) who claims her married lover was murdered by the dismembered body of his wife who then attacked her which is a most curious case. But each of these cases seem to get progressively stranger as he tries to make sense of each one.

To put it simply "Asylum" is a collection of short horror stories which are linked together by having a character from each of these short stories residing in an asylum. Watching it now over 40 year years later it reminded me of the later "The Vault of Horror" which isn't too surprising as both were directed by Roy Ward Baker. And to be honest "Asylum" is as good as the later "The Vault of Horror" with the variety in each individual short story keeping it constantly entertaining and never taxing on the brain to follow.

But what this means as a movie reviewer is a nightmare because it is hard to describe each individual storyline as I would end up spoiling them by having to give too much away. So what do I do, well let me just say that each story has a commercial side which means that there is always something visual which entertains be it a body part wrapped in brown paper appearing to move to a creepy old man who hires a tailor to make his son a special suit for his son out of a strange fabric. I know it doesn't sound much but each has an incredibly entertaining angle and an enjoyable surprise which makes you smile. This is heightened by the fact that each of these short stories feature recognizable actors from Peter Cushing to Sylvia Sims.

What this all boils down to is that "Asylum" is ideal for those who enjoy easy to watch horror movies but don't want to be taxed by one which makes you think. Aside from that, for a horror movie "Asylum" is actually quite entertaining even if horror is not your thing thanks to the darkly funny aspects of each of the stories.

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