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ASYLUM ($20) is another great little horror anthology from Amicus Productions- Hammerís chief horror rival during the 1960s and 1970s. Featuring the same director and a few of the stars of a number of Hammer outings, ASYLUM has an unsavory flavor that will be very familiar to genre fans. PSYCHO author Robert Bloch crafted the screenplay for this horror outing that strings together four tales of horror and madness, as well as its wrap around story.

Set inside the institution bearing the name Dunsmoor, ASYLUM begins with the arrival of a potential new hire for the facility, the young doctor in question is challenged to visit with a number of patients and then "diagnose" which is the former director of the facility, who has recently descended into madness. Interviewing the various inmates our young doctor encounters supernatural tinged tales of murder that can only be rationally explained by mental defect. ASYLUM is deftly directed by Roy Ward Baker, who takes a subtle approach to the horror by building the suspense in each tale until its inevitable payoff. The terrific cast of ASYLUM features Peter Cushing, Britt Ekland, Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee, Barry Morse, Barbara Parkins, Robert Powell, Charlotte Rampling and Sylvia Syms.

Dark Sky Films has made ASYLUM available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Considering its vintage and modest budget, ASYLUM looks surprisingly good on DVD. The image is generally sharp and nicely defined for an early seventies production. Colors tend to be fairly well saturated and the flesh tones hold up rather well. Blacks are deep and the whites appear stable. Contrast is good, but shadow detail is somewhat limited. Film grain is noticeable but not excessive. The film elements display modest blemishes, but are otherwise free from significant age related flaws. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is fairly solid. As expected, the majority background hiss and other audible imperfections have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with respectable sonic quality. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and easy to understand. Fidelity has the expected limitations; with the music sounding a bit thin and some of the sound effect not being wholly convincing. No other language tracks are offered, nor are any subtitles present.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extras. Director Roy Ward Baker and cameraman Neil Binney are on hand for a running audio commentary. Inside The Fear Factory is a nineteen-minute look at Amicus Productions. A Still Gallery, Biographies/Filmographies, plus a Theatrical Trailer for ASYLUM, as well as, other Amicus titles AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS and THE BEAST MUST DIE close out the extras.

ASYLUM is Amicus horror anthology gem that genre fans will want to snap up, thanks to Dark Skyís great little presentation and cool extras. Recommended.



Asylum (1972)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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