61 Days of Halloween: Asylum (1972)
For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween and a list of previously covered films go here.
Last year I got into a real kick of watching as many horror anthologies as were easily accessible. The anthology film, horror or otherwise, was one I’d not seen too many times. Granted they are one of the rarer approaches but they are out there. The most recent notable editions in the genre are, of course, The ABCs of Death and V/H/S. I had heard, from more than one source, that this was the best of them so it was one I knew I had to give a go once this theme rolled around.
Not only had I heard it was quite good, but it was also cited as one of the 100 (or so) best horror films from 1950-1980 by Stephen King in his seminal work of non-fiction, Danse Macabre. And titles on that list are high on the pecking order so far as things I want to be seeing during this theme.
With this film the approach is one closer to a nested anthology, which is to say that the stories more naturally flow in a narrative sense. Some anthologies are rather regimented and segmented. Here the the frame is highly important both in terms of the screen time it’s given and the impact it has on the tale overall. There are far too many anthologies I’ve seen, even in the small amount, that treat the frame as a throwaway or as secondary. This does not.
With the tales spawning from the minds of the deranged there is also a brilliant liberation from “reality” and standard rules. The drawback that most will point to regarding anthologies is that invariably some tales are better than others, some are even so good that they nearly salvage otherwise dreadful films. Part of why this film is so well-regarded is the fact that pretty much all the stories in this film (frame included) stand on virtually equal footing, and they’re all quite good, creepy, weird, and well-executed.
Amicus Productions are not a name I’m very familiar with but they are a company whose titles are worth getting to know. Asylum being a prime example.