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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Asylum of the Damned
Asylum of the Damned
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // September 21, 2004
List Price: $24.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 15, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

A recent medical school graduate named James Bishop is about to take up an internship at a mysterious hospital for the mentally and criminally insane. Though his fiancé has hesitations, he assures her that it's in their best interests as once he has the experience he needs from this internship, they'll be set as he'll have his pick of hospitals to work at and the can get started building their life together.

One night, while touring the grounds, James comes across some strange activity and discovers a dead body with a giant demonic hand print burned into the chest. Further investigation on his part proves that this type of thing has been happening on the hospital grounds on a pretty regular basis and that the staff there is in cahoots to cover it all up. Just why that is isn't quite obvious to James yet, but he and a couple of inmates team up to figure out what exactly is going on and why. What they discover is evil and will alter their lives forever.

Asylum Of The Damned is a well shot film with a nice dark and dreary atmosphere that should have made for a scary film. Other horror movies in the past (Jacob's Ladder for example) have proven that hospitals, asylums in particular, are a prefect breeding ground for creepy filmmaking and by all accounts, Asylum Of The Damned should have been a keen little fright film. Sadly, the film very quickly falls prey to some seriously predictable and overly cliché characters and plot points that ultimately result in a film that isn't so much scary as it is just plain boring. The cinematography is nice though. It captures the bleakness of the living conditions that the inmates have to deal with and really does give us the impression of squalor and despair.

That being said, it's too bad that the characters that inhabit it are so tired and overdone. There's the big black inmate who seems intimidating but really, underneath it all, is quite sensitive despite the fact that he has a child's mind. There's also the man who's been locked up so long that even though he has the chance to escape, he opts not to as life in the asylum is all he's ever really known – life on the outside would be too much for him and the hospital is the closest place he's ever had to a home. Or how about Bishop himself? The new kid on the medical scene who figures he can recover what the hospital once was and do well by his patients, make a legitimate difference in their lives despite the fact that any and everything in the hospital and the system that runs it are working against him. Original ideas? Original characters? Nope. Not at all.

To make matters worse, you can see the ending coming a mile away. I don't want to spoil it but once Bishop and his fiancé team up with the inmates to right the wrongs that are afflicting them, things get 'text book.' The take the same actions every other horror movie character has taken in the all too familiar scenario in which they are placed, and this results in no shocks, twists, or reasons to watch.

The DVD

Video:

Asylum Of The Damned gets an okay but not great 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on this DVD release. While the colors look good and the flesh tones are nice and lifelike, there is some mild print damage that appears on screen more than you'd expect for a film this new. There's also some mild edge enhancement and a slight bit of light compression artifacting visible in some of the darker scenes. None of this is enough to be truly distracting but it is there and does need to be noted, particularly when the movie is a recent one and should, theoretically, be in slightly better shape than it is presented on this DVD.

Sound:

Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mixes are supplied in English and in an alternate French language dub. There are some scenes that make nice and aggressive use of the rear and surround channels and the subwoofer gets a kick or two in a couple of spots, but most of the time the dialogue and sound effects are coming at you from the front and center sweet spots. Dialogue is clean and clear and easy to understand and the levels are well balanced from start to finish. Optional subtitles are included in English, French, Spanish and an English closed captioning option is included as well.

Extras:

The only supplements on the DVD are trailers for Asylum Of The Damned and a few other unrelated horror titles from Columbia/Tri-Star like Resident Evil – Apocalypse and Starship Troopers 2.

Final Thoughts:

While Asylum Of The Damned looks okay and sounds quite good, the film itself isn't worth your time as it's riddled with clichés and some sub par performances. Unless you have an extremely high tolerance for such things, you're best to skip this one.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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