Ratings Key


★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but good entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Usually a level of technical competence, yet seems by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. Either an absolute chore to sit through or unintentionally comic.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Escape from the Insane Asylum (1986)

...aka: Night of Horror

Directed by:
Felix Girard

Wealthy, sane Chris Nilsen (Renee Harmon) is being held in a loony bin against her will. Her unfaithful husband Alex (Henry Lewis) and his evil associate Dr. Seymour Harper (Frank Neuhaus), are basically keeping her prisoner there so they can use her money to fund their experiments, which involve unorthodox brain operations on the mentally retarded. Chris' attorney manages to get her out and she rents a country home owned by her former doctor. She's quickly befriended by Harper's wife Ellen (Lynn Whitmire) and it's revealed the home's previous occupant, Inez (Susette Andres), was the husband's former mistress, whom he murdered. It doesn't take long for Chris to start hearing and seeing things, some of which have been planted there by her husband and Harper specifically to drive her bonkers. But I doubt they'd have bothered wasting their time if they knew the place actually already was haunted. A rocking chair rocks by itself, footsteps, voices and sounds of someone cooking are heard, broken dishes disappear off the floor and eventually Chris sees transparent, ghostly visions of Inez, who's hanging out in limbo until she gets justice for her murder.

Just when you don't think it can get any more complicated, a nutter named Paul Peterson (Steven Neuhardt) slashes an orderlies neck, escapes from the asylum and is lurking around the house wearing a black hood. Paul's mother Celeste (Arline Specht) just so happens to be a powerful psychic who helps Chris find out what's going on with help from a ouija board and her friendly ancient spirit guide Julian (!?) If that's not enough for ya, Chris' teenage stepdaughter Becky (Lauren Brent) and her army of big-haired friends go to a party where a New Wave band performs, all try to squeeze into a small hot tub and plan to visit a reputably haunted old farmhouse. Despite some unintentional laughs here and there, especially the opening asylum scenes full of cliched nuttish behavior, it's mostly just dull, inept and confusing. The acting's pretty awful, the story's all over the place and it's mostly just talk and very, very tame. Even the skeleton prop dummy at the end doesn't help alleviate the boredom.

Released in Australia on the Palace Explosive Video label, this extremely obscure shot-on-video effort is noteworthy mainly for the campy presence of Renee Harmon, who speaks in a thick German accent and has some of the strangest and most stilted line delivery in history. Not only an actress, acting and screenwriting teacher and author of five movie-oriented books, Ms. Harmon (who passed away in 2006) also produced and/or wrote a handful of her own starring vehicles throughout the 70s and 80s, including FROZEN SCREAM (1975), LADY STREET FIGHTER (1978; released 1980), THE EXECUTIONER PART II (1984), HELL RIDERS (1984) and the still-unreleaed JUNGLE TRAP (1986). This is another one she both wrote and produced... None too well on any count.

NO STARS!

3 comments:

Term Papers said...

A rocking chair rocks by itself, footsteps, voices and sounds of someone cooking are heard, broken dishes disappear off the floor and eventually Chris sees transparent, ghostly visions of Inez, who's hanging out in limbo until she gets justice for her murder.

Anonymous said...

Do You Know who compose the soundtrack for this film?

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

The music is credited to Rick Vartian.

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