HOUSE OF CRAZIES
I have strong memories of many of the images from Asylum after seeing this on tv in my teens. Seen again today, Asylum still holds up well, if the pace is more sedate than I remember. The first segment has a wonderful grisliness that is pure E.C. Comics, containing some genuine shock images like when the head wrapped in brown paper first rolls through the door. There is a fine climax with the pieces of brown-paper wrapped body a breathing head, a wriggling torso, and legs and arms hopping around and grabbing Barbara Parkins by the hair.
The second episode is a well-sustained mood piece in the appearance of Peter Cushings mysterious stranger, his cryptic instructions and the unveiling of the oddly glowing cloth. Roy Ward Baker obtains a weirdly funereal atmosphere, which hearkens towards something out of H.P. Lovecraft. Barry Morse gives a fine, frightened performance as the tailor. The episode is only weakened by a schlocky ending.
The third episode, featuring the perpetually unhappy Charlotte Rampling and 1970s no-talent blonde Britt Ekland is one that does not gain its full effect until the twist ending. There is a slight final piece with Herbert Lom bringing spirit-imbued toys to life. For once, the linking story is strong enough to stand on its own, arriving at a memorable twist ending. There is also an excellent score.
Roy Ward Baker became one of the prominent directors to rise in the latter decade of the Anglo-horror industry. Elsewhere, Baker made Quatermass and the Pit/Five Million Years to Earth (1967), Moon Zero Two (1969), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Scars of Dracula (1971), Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) at Hammer; ... And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973) and The Vault of Horror (1973) at Amicus; and the post-Amicus The Monster Club (1980).
Robert Bloch was most famous for writing the novel that became the basis of Psycho (1960). His other genre scripts are:- The Cabinet of Caligari (1962), Strait-Jacket (1964), The Night Walker (1965), The Skull (1965), The Psychopath (1966), The Deadly Bees (1967), Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), the tv movie The Cat Creature (1973), the tv movie The Dead Dont Die (1974), Three Dangerous Ladies (1977) and The Amazing Captain Nemo (1977).
Full film available online here:-