Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenbergs Amicus productions portmantau or anthology films are often amazing slices of horror film culture from the 1970s. Coming off the back of the Hammer boom, the studio saw itself as a counter weight and a unique counter point to the gothic output of its competitor. ASYLUM is up there as its very best work. Shot in April 1972, the film was edited and released 15 weeks after the final day of shooting, premièring in July 1972 in the UK. It stars heavyweights like Robert Powell, Patrick Magee, Sylvia Sims, Peter Cushing, Charlotte Rampling and even Herbert Lom (who also starred in the labels fun but less skilled AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS.) The thought that crossed my mind of this third re watch (after the Severin boxset two years ago) is that the ultimate skill of Amicus was to compartmentalising horror genres and giving the audience a blend of on screen horror.
Doctor Martin (Robert Powell) arrives for a job interview at an isolated mental asylum in the English contryside. He meets Dr Lionel Rutherford (Patrick Magee), who tells him about the location, its four current cases and that one of them is Dr B. Starr, a former doctor on the staff, who had succombed to mental illness. Martin is tasked with meeting the four inmates and find who is Starr. If he does so he will get the job. Four stories ‘FROZEN FEAR’ is the story of a murdered wife, an adultering husband and body parts. THE WEIRD TAILOR is the tale of a tailor needing money and a special suit, with strange powers. All to be paid at night. In the dark. LUCY COMES TO STAY sees him meet Barbara and her friend Lucy. Lucy is a stramge friend though. Murderous really. Then the MANNIKINS OF HORROR sees a doctor who is trying to create automaton bots that can be controlled by the mind.
ASYLUM became one of Amicus’ more popular movies at the UK box office. Sadly though it was the last movie Robert Bloch wrote for the studio. So you know I love Amicus, ASYLUM and the writer Robert Bloch. This is the combination that makes the piece majestic. It also came to an end with the films completion. The other attribute to the films brillance is Director Roy Ward Baker. In his commentary he punchuates this brillance with his measured tone and seriousness to work. Two’s a Company’ piece really underlines this. The cast, producers and crew were simply in awe of the whole combination. This does make the BBC report a little inbalanced but the commnetary irons out that.
- Audio Commentary with Director Roy Ward Baker and Camera Operator Neil Binney
- ‘Two’s a Company’: 1972 On-set BBC report featuring interviews with Producer Milton Subotsky, Director Roy Ward Baker,
- Actors Charlotte Rampling, James Villiers, Megs Jenkins, Art Director Tony Curtis and Production Manager Teresa Bolland
- Screenwriter David J. Schow on Writer Robert Bloch
- Fiona Subotsky Remembers Milton Subotsky
- ‘Inside The Fear Factory’ Featurette with Directors Roy Ward Baker, Freddie Francis and Producer Max J. Rosenberg
- Theatrical Trailer
- Reversible sleeve subtitles for the hearing impaired
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:
- Rigid Slipcase Featuring New Artwork by Graham Humphreys
- 40 page booklet with new essays by Allan Bryce, Jon Towlson and Kat Ellinger
- Reversible poster featuring new and original artwork
- featuring new artwork by Graham Humphreys and original artwork
- Option English