Another very strong entry in Amicus films long series of portmanteau films, Asylum features stories written by Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho, and is directed by horror regular Roy Ward Baker.
A young psychiatrist Dr Martin(Robert Powell) arrives at an asylum set in the countryside, to be told by acting head Dr Rutherford(Patrick Magee)that in order to get the job he has applied for, he has to correctly identify the previous head of the Asylum, Dr Starr, who has gone native and become one of the inmates after attacking and crippling Rutherford. These scenes are excellent as Martin baulks at Rutherford's antiquated terminology concerning the inmates
Martin then goes up a large foreboding staircase to meet the patients who may or may not be Dr Starr. We then get four stories involving the patients he meets.
In the first story, a cheating husband disposes of his wife, only to face vengeance from beyond the grave. In the second, a tailor facing poverty and eviction from his home, gets an order for a very unusual suit. The third concerns a fragile woman who has a devious friend, who may be real or imaginary, and in the fourth Martin meets a man who claims he has created a race of tiny living mannequins.
All four stories are enjoyable, with a great cast lining up and giving their all. The second story 'The Weird Tailor' has a camp but enjoyable climax, and the story involving the mannequins is wonderfully gory. The aforementioned cast includes Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, Barry Morse, Richard Todd, Charlotte Rampling, Britt Ekland and Megs Jenkins to name just a few. Also Geoffrey Bayldon should be mentioned in a small but important role as Reynolds the hospital orderly in the framing story.
So great cast, great stories, great twist ending all add up to make an excellent British horror film that should entertain from beginning to end. Also of note is the music used in the film-Night On Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky- is a wonderful foreboding piece, well suited for this film.
The DVD transfer is perfectly adequate, and also contains a commentary by the director Roy Ward Baker.