Hands down, this has to be my favourite Amicus film. The other that impressed me was The House that Dripped Blood, it was a favourite but I felt it had some flaws due to its storyline overstepping the boundaries of classic horror to comedy which kind of spoilt it for me.
Directed by Roy Ward Baker, Asylum is true to the Amicus structure of multiple stories revolving around one main character or place. In this case it is a young man who is interviewed for a position at an asylum only to find out from Dr Lionel Rutherford that Dr Starr, who was the former head of the asylum is now one of their patients. To gain the role he has to interview each patient and guess which one is the doctor. As we go from patient to patient we learn the reasons as to why they ended up there. Without spoiling anything the stories include titles including Frozen Fear, the story of murder and voodoo, The Weird Tailor, a tale about necromancy, Lucy Comes To Stay deals with the horror of possession and Mannikins of Horror is about the will used to control objects. The conclusion of this story is something you should discover yourself of course and you won’t be disappointed.
So, why is it so good? Robert Bloch, that’s why. He is an incredible storyteller and he has given each story a fantastic structure that keeps your attention throughout. The stories are creepy, it really does a fantastic job of arguing the old case of people not being ill but actually seeing spirits or being possessed. It had a great reception from cinema goers although critics just saw it as another horror film but as a true fan of vintage horror then you will appreciate its formula and structure. If however you are fresh meat to all this Amicus stuff then I think you should really start with this as it one of their finest moments.