The Curator of Schlock #63: Asylum

The Curator of Schlock #63 by Jeff Shuster


(I guess the title Funny Farm wasn’t scary enough)

Asylum2Happy Halloween, Halloweenies! Your Curator of Schlock (or should I say Curator of Shock!!!) has a tasty, terrifying treat for you this All Hallows Eve, a tour of an asylum of the incurably insane. This brings us to 1972’s Asylum directed by Roy Ward Baker, another Amicus anthology of Robert Bloch stories like The House That Dripped Blood. The framing story revolves around a Dr. Martin (Robert Powell), an ambitious young man who wants to run an insane asylum with kindness and compassion. The current administrator, Dr. Rutherferd (Patrick Magee), prefers full-frontal lobotomies.

Asylum6Still, Rutherferd will turn over the keys to the kingdom if Martin can figure out which of the four patients is Dr. Starr, the former head of the asylum who went stark, raving mad. Dr. Starr created a new personality for him or herself so Dr. Martin has to pick out the fake.

Asylum5Our first patient is Bonnie (Barbara Parkins), and she recounts a story about a married man she was having an affair with. His name was Walter (Richard Todd), a man who enjoyed his brandy while living off of his wife’s immense wealth. Of course, life would have been easier if he could have just gottin his wife Ruth (Sylvia Syms) out of the way, and by getting her out of the way I mean murdering her! Oh, and Ruth had been seeing a Voodoo guru on regular basis much to Walter’s disgust. I guess the Tony Robbins seminar was sold out.

Anyway, Walter buys Ruth a new freezer for their basement. Ruth is delighted until Walter starts hacking her up with an axe.

Asylum3He neatly wraps her head, torso, arms, and legs up in butcher’s wrap, and places each piece neatly in the new freezer. He also tosses Ruth’s Voodoo snake charm bracelet on the remains because why not. I think it’s time your curator made a public service announcement about murdering your spouse for their money. Don’t do it! They have a habit of coming back from the dead to exact revenge.

The next patient is a tailor by the name of Bruno (Barry Morse) who is in desperate need of some cash to pay the month’s rent or he’ll be out on the street. Some guy by the name Mr. Smith (Peter Cushing) stops by and asks the tailor to make a suit for his son out of some strange glowing fabric. Bruno will get 200 pounds for his efforts, but he must follow strange instructions like only being able to work on the suit between midnight and 5 AM. When the suit is completed, Bruno drops it off at Smith’s place. Smith informs Bruno that he doesn’t have the money pay him. He spent his fortune on a dark tome that included instructions on how to tailor a suit that would bring the dead back to life. If you think this story will end without that theory being put to the test, you need to watch more horror movies.

Asylum4The next two stories feature a woman with a deadly best friend, and a mad doctor who can transfer his soul into creepy little dolls that attack people with an orbitoclast. This is some disturbing stuff. I hate creepy little dolls! They have a habit of moving around when you’re not looking. It wouldn’t surprise if there were some unsolved homicides due to that elf on a shelf business. A holiday tradition of murder!

Five Things I Learned From Asylum

  1. Throwing a bottle of brandy at your wife’s reanimated head won’t do much to stop it.
  2. Don’t place an evil, unearthly glowing suit on one of the mannequins in your shop!
  3. Friends don’t let friends commit murder!
  4. Don’t leave orbitoclasts lying around your office.
  5. Full frontal lobotomy may not be a such a bad idea.

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102, and episode 124) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.

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