Doom Asylum (1987)
Doom Asylum (1987)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 17 min.

Release Date: October 23rd, 1987 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Richard Friedman Actors: Patty Mullen, Ruth Collins, Kristin Davis, William Hay, Kenny L. Price, Harrison White, Dawn Alvan, Farin

 


 

D

rinking, driving, and necking lead to a severe car accident that claims the life of Judy (Patty Mullen), while her lover, million-dollar-lawsuit-winning attorney Mitch Hansen (Michael Rogen), clings desperately to her severed hand on the side of the road. When the morgue doctors (one of whom inexplicably wears sunglasses) begin an autopsy on Hansen, who died shortly after the paramedics arrived on the scene, they’re mortified to discover that Mitch isn’t entirely deceased. In a rage, the badly mutilated, spontaneously conscious man attacks the doctors with handy medical tools. “This man is not dead, sir!”

10 years later, Judy’s daughter Kiki (also Patty Mullen), along with her boyfriend Mike (William Hay), whom she calls “mom” as some sort of bizarre, comforting notion, and a group of college friends (including Darnell [Harrison White], Jane [Kristin Davis], and Dennis [Kenny L. Price]) journey down the exact same stretch of road where the fatal accident occurred so long ago. Although the tragedy haunts Kiki, the others aren’t concerned with the prevalent rumors about a murderous coroner who lurks around a deserted asylum, killing people with autopsy tools. “It will be alright. At least I think it will be alright.”

From the start, bad acting and worse dialogue (characters talk to themselves incessantly) plague the production values of “Doom Asylum.” It’s difficult to enjoy the purposeful humor (such as the coroner’s killing catch phrases) or the campy bloodshed when the utterances are so pitifully delivered (and the sound in general isn’t mixed correctly). It also doesn’t help that nonsensical fantasy dream sequences interfere with the pacing (they serve as a romantic aside with a trio of female rockers, but they’re terribly goofy); water-filled condoms are the main source of pranks (when Tina [Ruth Collins] and her band [The Tots] aren’t biding their time playing chess); and the story tends to unfold as if in no particular order. At one point, a character watches a black-and-white movie (lengthy clips from the films of Tod Slaughter [such as “The Murder in the Red Barn,” “The Crimes of Stephen Hawke,” and “The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” all of which surely boast greater entertainment]), which, if removed, would make “Doom Asylum” so short that it might not qualify as a feature – though it’s unclear at first who he is, when he’s supposed to be viewing them, or why he’s doing so.

The only redeemable elements here are the gore and makeup effects, which possess a certain low-budget amusement (the killer is something along the lines of Leatherface). Skulls are crushed, faces are melted away with acid, flesh is ripped off, foreheads are drilled into, toes are severed, and a rosy cheek is gashed by a bone saw. And there’s even an unnaturally long scuffle between Mike and Tina that rivals the notable duel from “They Live” (though this one is somehow sillier). Plus, the sets (supposedly a real abandoned hospital) aren’t too shabby either – disregarding the copious amounts of natural light that diminishes opportunities for scares.

Despite being a mere excuse for screaming teens to split up and get slaughtered, the plot has countless holes and jumps in sensible progression – something that could have been avoided, as the writing didn’t have to be hindered by the budget. Perhaps most unexplained of all is why a former lawyer would suddenly become a butchering coroner. And the runner-up would be why Mike and Kiki delay their escape to pray in the institution’s chapel, not only for their fallen companions, but also to beg for survival – with Kiki offering to pay God any amount of money … or to have sex with him for salvation.

– Mike Massie

  • 1/10