Doom Asylum was made for only about $82,000 and shot in a dozen days. The director and producer explain on the DVD that it was just a sort of stab in the dark to try to make a little money from the booming VHS horror market. Somehow instead they managed to strike gold accidentally anyway and produce something with so much charm that it has no problems getting past its shortcomings.
To start with, the movie was set in an actual abandoned asylum, the Essex Mountain Sanitorium (which has been completely demolished and turned into a public park as of 2002).
Then there's Patty Mullen herself. I'm not sure what it is about her, maybe just the fact that I've seen her wonderful performance in Frankenhooker already... but there's just something so endearingly weird about Mullen's characters. Here, Patty actually plays two characters. One of them is Kiki, an odd young girl who calls her boyfriend "mom," and the other is Judy, Kiki's mother. The DVD case might have Kristin Davis's name all over it, but Patty Mullen is definitely the real star actress here. I certainly hope we get to eventually see her in another role. She's got a couple of kids these days, but surely she's not that busy.
She's actually more enjoyable here than I was expecting, but then I've never really seen her in anything else. The director talks about how he could tell that she was very talented and was going to go far... but I think he's probably just saying that because that happens to be what actually happened with her. The other actors aren't all great, but there are several shots where Kristin's smiling or laughing (not that I blame her) at what's going on while serious things are supposed to be happening, and she's the only one I saw doing that sort of thing.
Also, whoever did the costume design for Patty and Kristin must have used the chipettes from Alvin and the Chipmunks as inspiration.
I would really like to believe that that didn't happen by accident. Just look at those glasses... and they're even wearing the same colors...
On to the killer, nicknamed "The Coroner." He never actually was a coroner, in fact he's an ex-lawyer. He just hangs out at the asylum so he has access to all the medical instruments to use in his killing.
It seems like it's pretty hard to come up with an original slasher villain that isn't just another guy in a mask, but his faceless thing actually works for me. Still though, out of all the slashers, he's got to be the worst at slashing.
He hardly even tries to go after anyone. His victims have to either walk right up to him, or just stop, sit down, and wait to be killed. Take Kristin's death scene for example.
The death scenes all pretty much follow that sort of pattern. This killer's got no advantage except that his victims are all such eager volunteers.
The teens all spend a great deal of time wandering around the complex corridors, and this would ordinarily serve to build tension, but it never does because we know exactly where the killer is the whole time. You see, he only slashes part-time. While the teens wander around, he just goes back into the tunnels and watches TV.
As if that wasn't enough, when we cut back to him to see what he's watching, his screen is actually shown full-screen on ours for minutes at a time. As it turns out, when they finished their first cut of the movie, it just wasn't long enough, so they then spliced in all the footage of the killer watching classic (read public domain) horror movies.
Although there are a few minor annoyances, and sometimes the movie just seems to get so caught up in its own fun-momentum that it forgets that it's supposed to be going anywhere at all with the story, in the end this doesn't really matter because Doom Asylum is just so damn charming and entertaining.
The DVD isn't too hard to find right now, so if you've not seen Doom Asylum yet, I'd suggest you remedy that right away.
Available on Amazon: Doom Asylum (Uncut)