ASYLUM OF THE DAMNED
Directed by Phil Jones
Produced by Phil Jones & Matthew McCombs
Written by Matthew McCombs a& Phil Jones
Director of Photograpy Mark Melville
Music by Steve Bauman
Cast: Bruce Payne, Matt Stasi, Tracy Scoggins, Julia Lee & Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Jr.
2002/85 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment DVD
As someone who spent three years working in a private mental health facility, I can tell you that psychiatric wards can be spooky places. But, it's not like you see in the movies. In the movies, these places are always full of screaming, violent patients, which does happen. But, it's when the ward is quiet that things are weird, because that only creates anticipation. Looking back on those days is much more shocking than anything found in the clunker ASYLUM OF THE DAMNED, a movie that you'd have to be crazy to enjoy.
As the film opens, James Bishop (Matt Stasi) arrives at St. Andrews Hospital to begin his psychiatric residence. There, he meets the administrator Dr. McCort (Bruce Payne), who informs James that there job is to keep the patients incarcerated, not cure them. Despite warnings from patients and former staff members that the hospital is a place of evil, and the fact that someone writes "Get Out" in blood on the CEILING!!! of his office, James decides that he really wants to help people and must stay at St. Andrews. When he finds one of the patients dead, James asks Dr. McCort for help, but is rebuffed by his superior. James begins to investigate on his own and finds that there is something truly nefarious happening at St. Andrews.
ASYLUM OF THE DAMNED (known as HELLBORN in other countries) is the kind of bargain-basement junk which needlessly crowds video store shelves when much better films (both foreign and domestic) remained to be MIA on DVD. Bruce Payne is by no means a big star, but he's been a serviceable villain in films like PASSENGER 57 and WARLOCK III. The same goes for Tracy Scoggins, who plays an evil nurse. So how were they wrangled into this crapfest? The film appears to have been filmed on location in an abandoned (?) hospital of some sort, but this is the kind of cheap film where much of the set is kept dark (Dr. McCort's orders!) and one large set has nearly no furnishings. We do get plenty of shots of the same empty corridor over and over. And don't be fooled by the demon on the DVD cover. Yes, that monster is in the film, but it's only on-screen in three scenes and they seem to contain the exact same shot of the creature moving forwards and then backwards.
The overall shabby nature of the movie could have been somewhat redeemed if the movie had any sort of story...but it doesn't. The story is incredibly unoriginal -- dark hospital, patients dying, new doctor finds the truth. We've never seen that before! Here's my favorite part, aside from the bloody message on the ceiling; When Bishop questions McCort about the dead patient, McCort reponds, "You would've had known that had you read his chart." This comes just five minutes after the scene where we watch Bishop read the charts of all of his patients!!! Also, there are a few scenes where Bishop comments on the patients' screaming, but all we hear are a few moans. Damn that Foley is expensive! ASYLUM OF THE DAMNED is a total waste of film that should be locked-up for criminal behavior.
ASYLUM OF THE DAMNED is committed to DVD by Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks pretty bad, as the image is very grainy and washed-out looking. The darkness of many of the shots doesn't help any. When light is present, there is noticeable artifacting on the image. The colors are dull and rarely vibrant. The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is just as bad, as it displays woefully unbalanced dynamic range, with the dialogue being much softer than the sound effects and musical cues. The sounds from the film are never at a stable volume and constant volume control is necessary. The only real surround effects are from musical cues and I didn't notice any significant subwoofer action. The only extra on the DVD is a brief trailer for ASYLUM OF THE DAMNED which is presented full-frame.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©