Second Sight Films gives a lavish release to one of Amicus’ classic horror anthology films with a transfer so sharp you could cut yourself on Robert Powell’s cheekbones. Dare you check into the Asylum?
As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch any films the were not certified for my age group. I felt I missed out on a lot of comedies and action films that my friends had seen and would talk about for weeks to come. There was one exception to this rule – horror films. Forget your Nightmares on Elm Street and your Friday The 13ths or Halloweens; I am talking classics; The Nanny, Children of the Corn, The Birds, American Werewolf in London.
When it came to these types of movies, my mum actively encouraged me to watch them. I remember vividly the first time she introduced me to Asylum; it had been on TV in the early hours, and she had videotaped it for me to watch. All these years later, the overwatched tape no longer plays, and even if it did, I don’t have a working VCR to play it.
So, when I heard that those wonderful human beings at Second Sight were releasing some Amicus titles, I was beyond excited, then Asylum was announced as one of the titles I was immediately and unexpectedly worried. It had been a while since my trusted VHS copy gave up on me, and I haven’t been able to watch it since. Would it still hold up, or was Asylum best left committed to the hazy nostalgia of the past?
We’ll get the technical stuff out the way first, the presentation is breathtaking and is yet another exceptional example of how a nearly 50-year-old film can be given a second lease of life. Asylum didn’t look this good in 1972. The special features are a must-see for any fan, particularly the ‘Two’s a Company’ and “Inside The Fear Factory” featurettes which shines a light on the golden era of horror anthology films with archive interviews.
Now, the film itself I am thrilled to report is as enjoyable today as I was the first time I saw it. I won’t go into each story, but Lucy Comes To Stay still gets under my skin, and the best story remains The Weird Tailor starring horror legend Peter Cushing. Although previously made a decade before under the anthology TV series Thriller hosted by Boris Karlof, the Cushing version is vastly superior and eerily film to perfection. Many of the shorts on offer in an anthology wouldn’t (by design) hold up to being expanding into a feature, but The Weird Tailor is one of those exceptions.
Amicus and Hammer Horror frequently get muddled together thanks to their similar styles and love of the genre. Amicus’ anthology films hold a very special place in my heart, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, Torture Garden, Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, From Beyond the Grave, and The House That Dripped Blood (which is also out now and reviewed by Chris), these were my gateways into a wider (and weirder) world of horror.
The Limited Edition Blu-ray is home to a wealth of special features, but I do have one complaint. Why didn’t they use this opportunity to release a little wind-up toy (or a Funko Pop) of Dr. Byron (as played by Herbert Lom)? Sure it would be freaky, but I would proudly display it with other geeky treasures.