Friday, 1 March 2013

Asylum: Frozen Fear

In the first room, Doctor Martin meets Bonnie, the first incurable psychotic. He doesn’t see her face but it is quite clear (to me, anyway) that Bonnie is far too young to be the director of anything, although Martin, for all his apparent insight and confidence, doesn’t seem to have grasped this.
Bonnie’s story encompasses adultery, murder, dismemberment, voodoo, reanimated corpses and hideous décor, all in about twenty minutes. It’s ace.
Bonnie is having an affair with Walter (Richard Todd). Walter is a heavy drinker with a penchant for cravats who is married to a rich woman called Ruth (Sylvia Sims) who he can’t stand, despite the fact that she seems alright, really, and is rather attractive. They live in a large suburban home filled with the most awful tat, including a massive dice design lighter and those glass jars filled with coloured liquid that Boots used to display in their window.  
Walter has already asked for a divorce, but Ruth has refused, so now he makes nice and secretly plots with Bonnie about how to knock her off.
It’s worth mentioning that Ruth is the daughter of the former Governor of an African colony, so has a keen interest in voodoo and witch doctors, and wears a special charm bracelet that apparently has special powers. That’s quite an important plot point, by the way.
Anyway, on the pretext of showing Ruth a surprise gift - a new freezer – Walter lures her down to the basement and kills her with an axe. He then chops her up into constituent parts and wraps them in brown paper and string and puts them in the freezer. As a final gesture, he throws in the magical charm bracelet and grimly quips ‘rest in pieces’. Very British that, the over-riding desire to be a smartarse, even though you’ve just murdered your missus and hacked her to bits.
What follows next is interesting, as the wrapped up bits of Ruth’s body start marauding around the house, twitching and writhing across the floor independently (I say that, although I have seen a cut of the film with a different frame ratio where you can quite clearly see the crew’s hands pushing the bits around). A strangling hand soon makes short work of Walter and, when Bonnie arrives, she has to resort to taking an axe to the amputated hand clawing at her face - with mixed results…
Daft as a brush, the thing I like most about this story is how compact and to the point it is. Walter kills Ruth about five minutes in and, within a quarter of an hour, we’re back to the asylum, with Bonnie revealing her chopped up mutilated face. That sounds like a back handed compliment - ‘I like it because it’s short’ – but it’s not meant that way. It’s fast, fun and never boring, and the dismembered limbs on the move are unforgettable. Good stuff.     

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