Friday, January 25, 2019

Phil's Horror Watch: DOOM ASYLUM (1988) from Arrow Video - January 14, 2019


Starring Michael Rogen, Patty Mullen, Ruth Collins, Kristin Davis, William Hay, Kenny L. Price, Harrison White
Written by Richard Friedman, Rick Marx, Steve Menkin
Cinematography by Larry Revene
Edited by Ray Shapiro
Produced by Alexander W. Kogan Jr., Barry Tucker, Ted Hope, Steven G. Menkin
Directed by Richard Friedman
Originally released by Academy Video
Released by Arrow Video

Continuing the legacy of the totally radical year of 1988, today's film is another shining example of independent horror filmmaking, and an example of what not to do when making an independent horror film. This particular movie has a reputation of being one of  the worst films to come out of the 1980's, which to me is unfair. It's not that bad. It falls into the "It's so bad, it's good" category. What I loved about the movie that it tries really, really hard to be a good movie. And it's that good intentions that make DOOM ASYLUM such a charming movie!

The film's official synopsis: When a group of horny teens wind up on the grounds of a creepy abandoned asylum, they think they’ve found the perfect place to party. Little do they know that inside the building’s crumbling walls lurks a freakishly deformed maniac, driven to madness by the tragic loss of his fiancée in a car accident. With an array of grisly surgical tools at his disposal, it’s only a matter of time before the youngsters begin meeting various splattery ends at the hands of the ghoulish Coroner. Helmed by director Richard Friedman and also starring Penthouse Pet of the Year 1988 Patty Mullen, DOOM ASYLUM combines outlandish gore and a wise-cracking villain to create one of the most wildly entertainingly blood-spattered slashers of the late ’80s.

Now, this was my first time watching the movie, but I have known of its existence for a long time. Back in 1994, while I was at a horror convention here in San Jose,  I purchased a book called "Invasion of the Scream Queens" and it contained within its pages an interview with actress Ruth Collins. In her interview, the authors included a full page poster of DOOM ASYLUM, and it looked so cool. I looked for it at all of my favorite local mom & pop video stores, but always came up empty handed. Now, in 2019, I finally purchased my very own copy, and I must confess, it was soooo worth the wait!
Original VHS Cover Art (1988)

The movie is full of cheesy goodness that I'm surprised that it wasn't on the old USA Up Al Night show back in the 90's! The plot is paper thin, the acting is mostly wooden, the special effects are really awesome, and the characters are just so damn goofy that it puts a smile on my face. There's an innocence to the film, which is a common thread for a lot of the B-movies being made at that time. The film doesn't take itself seriously, and that's what makes it so much fun to watch! It's a type of film that doesn't get recognize enough, nor does it get made anymore. This is a lost art form, and I'm glad to see it back in the public's eyes once more!

The cast is totally awesome in their respective roles! Lead actress Patty Mullen became more well known a couple of years later when she starred in Frank Henenlotter's 1990 cult classic FRANKENHOOKER. Ruth Collins would go on to star in other low budget films like PSYCHOS IN LOVE, CEMETERY HIGH, PRIME EVIL, and DEADLY EMBRACE. The film would mark the acting debut of one Kristin Davis, who can also be seen in TV shows like General Hospital,
Melrose Place, and Seinfield, but it was her role as Charlotte York on the hit Showtime series Sex and the City that landed her in the public's conscience. Our antagonist Michael Rogen had a very short acting career, having appeared in a handful of projects. You can see him Frank Henenlotter's 1990 sequel BASKET CASE 2, PUNCH THE CLOCK, and on the television show Tribeca as Albert.

The movie was co-written and directed by Richard Friedman. Having directed some television episodes, he would go on to direct a plethora of projects, including PHANTOM AT THE MALL: ERIC'S REVENGE, SCARED STIFF, and DEATH MASK as well as TV shows like Silk Stalkings, Baywatch Nights, and Friday the 13th: The Series, as well as a series of short films and then that was that for him. It's too bad, because I would have liked to see more from him.

Once again the wonderful people at Arrow Video have pulled out all the stops restoring this lost classic! They did a brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative, offer 1.85:1 and 1.33:1 versions of the feature, original uncompressed PCM mono audio, optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourne, and a fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Amanda Reyes for the first pressings of the Blu-Ray/DVD combo.

Arrow Video also dished out some pretty damn cool special features as well for the combo. Included are a brand new audio commentary with screenwriter Rick Marx, brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues, a brand new interview with actress Ruth Collins entitled, "Tina’s Terror", a brand new interview with director of photography Larry Revene entitled, "Movie Madhouse", a brand new interview with special make-up effects creator Vincent J. Guastini entitled, "Morgues & Mayhem", Archival Interviews with producer Alexander W. Kogan, Jr., director Richard Friedman and production manager Bill Tasgal, and a stills gallery!

DOOM ASYLUM is one of the most entertainingly, goofy, silly, off-the-wall wacky slasher flick that I have ever seen in my lifetime!! If you're looking for a weird ass horror film from the Decade of Decadence that has to offer, then look no further!! From bad puns and 80's high-cut bathing suits, this movie has it all and more!! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

DOOM ASYLUM is available on Blu-Ray from Arrow Video. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit the Diabolik DVD website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

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