The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - DOOM ASYLUM (1987) | The Movie Waffler

Blu-Ray Review - DOOM ASYLUM (1987)

An undead car crash survivor butchers a group of youngsters.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Richard Friedman

Starring: Patty Mullen, Ruth Collins, Kristin Davis

Many of our stars got their careers off to a start in low budget horror movies they've since excised from their CVs - Leonardo DiCaprio (Critters 3), Jennifer Aniston (Leprechaun), Matthew McConaughey (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation), Tom Hanks (He Knows You're Alone), Amy Adams (Psycho Beach Party) and Julia Louis Dreyfus (Troll), to name a few. It riles devoted fans of schlock that the aforementioned stars are unwilling to acknowledge the role the horror genre played in their fledgling careers, but I don't think anyone would begrudge Sex and the City star Kristin Davis for avoiding any mention of her role in 1987's slasher snoozefest, Doom Asylum.


Arriving at the smoked out roach end of the '80s slasher craze, Doom Asylum opens with the obligatory flashback establishing the origins of its killer, with a car crash victim rising from the dead to butcher his coroners, taking over the asylum facility (why are car crash victims being brought to an asylum for their autopsies?) and seemingly hanging out undisturbed for the next decade until a generic group of youngsters arrives unannounced.

Said group is made up of the classic slasher clichés. There's the bookworm (Davis), the bikini babe (Patty Mullen), the dumb jock (William Hay), the nerd (Kenny L. Price) and the token black guy (Harrison White). You don't need a PhD in racial representation in the 1980s horror movie to guess who gets it first. Also present are three female members of a proto Pussy Riot activist girl group, seemingly so the film can poke some fun at feminists.


It doesn't take much to surmise that Doom Asylum was conceived chiefly because the filmmakers had access to what they considered an interesting shooting location, in this case an actual abandoned asylum. However, it's been so long abandoned that it bears no physical resemblance to a sanitarium, and might just as well have been an abandoned fish processing plant. Atmospheric it ain't, but the bulk of the film consists of characters wandering its many corridors while we wait for them to die a brutal death.

The target audience for Doom Asylum will be undemanding gorehounds, but while the rubbery FX courtesy of Vincent J. Guastini have a certain nostalgic charm, director Richard Friedman is no Lucio Fulci, staging his kills in the blandest fashion imaginable. None of the victims put up much of a fight, often holding still for their killer as if they're having dental work done rather than having their brains drilled into.


Thankfully, Doom Asylum clocks in at a mercifully short 77 minutes, with about 15 minutes of the running time padded out by clips from the films of Tod Slaughter, viewed on a TV set by the film's undead killer - seems despite the asylum being abandoned, someone's still paying the electrical bill. If you've seen Slaughter's 1930s b-movie melodramas, it's probably been through nigh on unwatchable public domain prints on YouTube or on cheap DVD compilations, so it's nice to see snippets of his work in sparkling hi-def here. Perhaps Arrow Video could treat us to a Tod Slaughter boxset in the future?

Commentaries from screenwriter Rick Marx and podcasters The Hysteria Continues; new interviews with actress Ruth Collins, director of photography Larry Revene and make-up effects creator Guastini; archival interviews with producer Alexander W. Kogan Jr., director Friedman and production manager Bill Tasgal; stills gallery; and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Amanda Reyes.

Doom Asylum is on blu-ray now from Arrow Video.