1972, British, 86 minutes, Colour.
Patrick Magee, Robert Powell, Geoffrey Bayldon, Barbara Parkins, Richard Todd, Sylvia Syms, Barry Morse, Peter Cushing, Charlotte Rampling, Britt Ekland, James Villiers, Meg Jenkins, Herbert Lom.
Directed by Roy Ward Baker.
Asylum was written by specialist horror-writer, Robert Bloch, who wrote the original Psycho. Since the film Torture Garden which was made in 1967, and comprises four horror stories that take us into the minds and consciences of four people, he has done something similar with The House that Dripped Blood (1971) & Tales From the Crypt (1972). The latter is probably the best of this short conscience horror-story group. Asylum is the slightest but is certainly in the same vein. All the films boast excellent English star casts in cameo performances. Chilling, but an interesting way to approach
good, evil and conscience.
1. What was the point of making this film? Entertainment? Horror? Frightening audiences? Moralising?
2. Was the situation credible for the points being made? Were the characters of Dr. Martin and Dr. Rutherford credible?
3. What was the point of the testing of Dr. Martin?
4. What was the clash of ideologies behind care for the insane? Is this a reflection of society's attitudes?
5. Did you suspect who was the real Dr. Starr? What had happened to Dr. Starr? Was there a point being made here?
6. Comment on the characters, situation and moral made in each of the stories:
Bonnie, Walter, Ruth - infidelity and murder;
the Taylors, his landlord, wife, Mr. Smith, astrology;
Barbara, George, Lucy, the Nurse, murder and possessiveness;
Byron and his murderous toys.
Each of the principal characters was insane, but the insanity corresponded to some fear and guilt in the stories, thus giving the stories a moralising aspect. What was each character guilty of? Why?
7. What was the point of Dr. Starr killing Dr. Martin?
8. Was the film too horrific for its purposes or was it a good presentation of the horror theme?