Freddy Krueger has a lot answer for. The bastard son of a thousand maniacs himself spawned a thousand wise-cracking psychos. In the late 80s, subtlety was out and a kill with a bad quip was in. Made at the arse-end of the 80’s horror video boom, DOOM ASYLUM is one such film; with a disfigured nut job in a white lab coat offing trespassing teens with mortician’s tools, in an abandoned asylum. His would be vicious bon-mots are largely forgettable, but this slasher semi-spoof isn’t without some goofy merit.
The killer, Mitch (Michael Rogen), starts his murderous career after he awakes on the mortician’s slab. Two rather inattentive doctors put his reflexes down muscle spasms, and cut off most of his face before he fully comes round. Not only distraught that he’s just received an extreme facial peel, but also because the car crash that brought him here also took the life of his wife-to-be, beautician Judy (former Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen) - whose dreams (“I‘ll never have to do a manicure again!”) were cut tragically short. Judy-less and now faceless, poor Mitch flips and offs both doctors with a scalpel.
Fast forward 10 years, and now Judy’s daughter Kiki (also played by Patty Mullen) has returned to the place where her mother died near the now desolate asylum, where Mitch was taken after the accident. She’s joined by a ragtag assortment of teen stereotypes, her blond jock boyfriend Mike (William Hay); bookworm and psychiatrist’s daughter Jane (a distinguished debut for later Sex and the City star Kristen Davis); boggle-eyed geek Dennis (Kenny L. Price); and a hyperactive black guy (dressed in a riot of pastel), Darnell (Harrison White).
Considering this is Kiki’s pilgrimage, she doesn’t let the anniversary get in the way of a spot of sunbathing and a picnic - although she does ask Mike if she can call him Mom(!). Jane tells the legend of the disfigured killer who supposedly lurks in the abandoned asylum, which is just next to their picnic spot. Despite the fact that campers and busloads of teens have gone missing around the vicinity in the last 10 years no one takes her seriously.
A particularly discordant all-girl punk group also happens to be practicing in the asylum, big haired and big boobed Tina (an snarlingly entertaining turn by Ruth Collins); Rapunzel (Farin), who’s taken a shine to Durnell; and Godiva ( Dawn Alvan - who sports possibly the worst French accent ever committed to celluloid). They don’t take kindly to the new interlopers (“Oh shit, the bourgeoisie are here!”), shouting out abuse from the windows - “Go back to the mall where you belong!”.
The trouble really starts when Darnell and Rapunzel start to make eyes at each other (which is quickly followed by a strikingly cheesy daydream sequence of them running through a sunlit field into each others arms). Darnell ventures into the asylum to look for her, and someone down in the bowels of the building opens his mortician’s tool bag …
From the off it’s pretty clear that the makers of DOOM ASYLUM weren’t out to make a serious horror film - it veers from arch campiness to comedy so broad it borders on AIRPLANE-style lunacy. If you want some chills then look elsewhere, but this is a pretty fun effort that manages to mostly entertain even though it’s obvious the makers were fairly knowing in their attempts to make the movie bad on purpose. The film’s villain fails to differentiate himself from the slew of other wise-cracking loons, but some of the film’s dialogue hit’s the mark. There are some great scenes, my favourite was the jock having a punch-up with Tina on the rooftop, “You‘re in a lot of trouble torpedo tits!”.
If the killer fails to impress with the quips, then at least DOOM ASYLUM delivers with the splatter. Admittedly, some of it is pretty hokey (the acid bath victim looks like mannequin dipped in oatmeal), but a particularly well executed (pun intended) drill to the head shows you can sometimes do wonders on a tiny budget. The fact that the movie was shot on film also gives it a sheen that belies the lack of money spent on it. As far as suspense goes there’s pretty much zero - characters split up and wander off on heir own in time-honoured tradition, but the action regularly draws to a halt with lengthy sequences of the killer watching old Todd Slaughter movies on TV (added to bump up the film’s meagre running time to a still slight 77 minutes).
I doubt Kristen Davies owns this movie (the blue leotard she’s forced to wear throughout is probably the most horrifying thing in the movie!), but if you’d like to see the kind of slasher flick John Waters would make this should go nicely with a crate of beers and a bowl of nachos. Previously fairly obscure, DOOM ASYLUM has been given a whole new lease of life by Code Red on DVD.
female:5 / male:6
1) Female dies from car crash injuries
2) Male stabbed with a scalpel
3) Male stabbed with a scalpel
4) Male killed with medical pincers
5) Female has face burnt off with acid
6) Male has head drilled
7) Female strangled with stethoscope
8) Female has face cut in half with buzzsaw
9) Male stabbed in neck with hypodermic needle and has toes cut off
10) Female crushed in machine
11) Male stabbed with pin