Forget stepping on a Lego. The 1987 gore-comedy (kind of?)-slasher epic Doom Asylum has an entirely special kind of foot pain, which you will certainly feel as intensely as the poor character in the film does.
Doom Asylum isn’t for everyone. You can probably figure that out with the handy trailer for Arrow Video’s recent 2K restoration and Blu-ray release. If you have strong feelings about the Return of the Living Dead series maintaining solid quality through at least two of its sequels, Doom Asylum is for you. If Street Trash (also released in 1987) is something you watch at least once a year, Doom Asylum is definitely for you.
Doom Asylum seems to understand how incredibly ridiculous it is, even for this type of film. The story has a successful young palimony lawyer (Michael Rogen, who is enthusiastic as hell, if nothing else) getting into a serious car accident with his girlfriend (Patty Mullen, who was also in the amazing Frankenhooker). For whatever reason, our guy wakes up in an asylum, where a medical examiner and his subordinate (Harvey Keith and Steve Menkin respectively) are working on him. Why? Solid question. Doesn’t matter. The lawyer kills them and hides in the asylum. Ten years later, he runs amok on some idiots who happen to be hanging out in the abandoned asylum for one reason or another.
If it sounds like I’m being snarky about the absurd story, I’m not. Like a lot of movies from this era that settled comfortably into genre stereotypes, Doom Asylum prefers to find its creativity elsewhere. Not everyone is going to define that creativity in the same terms, or even at all, but I’m more than willing to argue that it’s there in surprising abundance.
Perhaps the most likable thing about the film, directed by the lively B-movie veteran Richard Friedman, is the fact that it is absolutely fearless. The movie has moments of imaginative low-budget brutality. It goes for a blend of horror and comedy that seems to work at least partially because everyone is clearly having a really good time. This is one of those impressive, rare instances in which everyone is having a blast, and that manages to become part of the movie’s atmosphere. The film is comfortable in its memorable setting, and it doesn’t seem to be too worried about logic, or making sure the horror and comedy are handled correctly. It just runs through one over-the-top scene after another, and it gives you an ample number of moments in which this silliness is genuinely funny. There are also at least a couple of moments in the film that will make you flinch. That’s all a VHS horror junkie could really ask for, if they took a chance on something like this in 1987.
By no means a classic, Doom Asylum is nonetheless a satisfying, sweet reminder of the guiltless joy that should be “bad” movie watching. Doom Asylum suffers in a number of technical departments, as well as other areas, but it matches that with enthusiasm. That doesn’t always guarantee something that will find an audience. In this case, it should.
THE FILM: 7/10 THE EXTRAS: 9/10 THE DISC: 10/10
Review copy provided
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While not on par with other 80s horror movie classics, Doom Asylum is nonetheless a fun throwback with a lot to offer fans of the obscure.
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