ASYLUM (1972) Review [British Horror Anthology]

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Directed by Roy Ward Baker, 1972
Written by Robert Bloch

A young psychiatrist, Dr. Martin, is looking to fulfill an empty job position in an insane asylum.  He arrives at the asylum, and upon meeting with the head physician he’s told the reason why a job opening exists.  One of the former doctors has him/herself gone crazy, and is in fact one of the patients currently being treated at the hospital.   Dr. Martin is then presented with the challenge of identifying his predecessor amongst the inmates, and if he can rightly guess which of the patients was a former psychiatrist in that very hospital – relying only on his interrogation techniques and listening skills – the head of the facility will grant him the open position as he’d be deemed capable of fulfilling the needs demanded by the job.

Dr. Martin then makes his rounds through the rooms of the four incarcerated mental patients, and listens to the crazy story each has to tell as to why they’re being detained; and each story is almost as crazy as the one before it.  The good, young doctor studies each as they delve into their history and open up about being a mistress caught in a murder conspiracy, a tailor hired to make a suit using a very unique sort of material, a ‘sane’ woman ‘wrongfully’ accused of murder, and a man obsessed with creating miniature figurines that each have an actual working biology underneath their plastic exterior.

ASYLUM is indeed a horror film anthology.  The majority of the time is spent showing us each story told by the inmate in flashback form, and in typical anthology fashion none of the stories have any direct correlation with any of the others.  However, unlike a lot of other anthology pictures each story does have an impact on the overall proceedings of the main plot, which is somewhat a story of its own.


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Directed by Vadim Jean, 1994
Written by Vadim Jean, based on the novel by John Brosnan

NIGHTSCARES opens with long pans of the exterior of an apartment building inter-cut with long holds on the faces of people sleeping. This sequence is followed immediately by Craig Fairbrass as the worst cop ever (which makes him the best movie cop ever) staring at a suspect in an interrogation room. And when I type staring, I mean glowering in silence like a rapist. Eons go by without a single word said between the two and then WHAM! Fairbrass springs into action like a tranquilized sloth and calmly exits the room. Cut to a long shot in an endless hallway with a non-emotive cop way back of the frame. He walks down the hallway, which is as bland as a hallway can be, straight towards the static camera. Walks the whole damn way. Just as he reaches us, he turns around.

He turns around and walks all the way back down the hallway. Vadim Jean lets us experience every agonizing second of that fucking pointless piece of script. I love it when low(er) budget films and low(er) talent filmmakers pad their run time, as if their movie about dreams that kill people is legit at 89 minutes, but a clown act at 75.  At (what felt like) ten minutes in with not a single worthwhile thing happening, I knew writing this review of NIGHTSCARES was going to be fun.

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