The second tale finds Peter Cushing in his stoic skeletal prime requesting an unusual suit from an impoverished tailor. Given very specific instructions, Bruno is supplied with effervescent material in which to craft a suit, but only past the stroke of midnight is he to work. The stipulations apply direct stress to Bruno's marriage that is suffering in part to the wife's loneliness. Her needy nature coincides to the fate of one Mr. Bruno and lands him incarcerated within a mental institution for the incurably insane. Our lead character, Dr. Martin, so humbly believes in psychotherapy and rationalization to all events deemed otherworldly by diseased minds. It's his job to filter truth from fiction and fact from fantasy and this is the adhesive coating to all these stories within. After Bruno explains his story to the noticeably bewildered Dr. Martin, Bruno begs the good doctor to find "Otto". One would think that spotting a large mannequin wearing an illuminated suit wouldn't be too difficult a task, not even in part to his peeling facial features. The Weird Tailor is unlike most tales that I've seen in these portmanteau films as it beckons originality. Author Robert Bloch's stories of horror translate well from the realms of reality to ideals slightly more grounded in grim parables of monsters and murder.
Afterwards, our next story is revealed in the shape of a young, nubile Charlotte Rampling plays Barbara, a neurotic heiress who, upon release from an asylum, is imprisoned within her own house by her loving brother and a portly nurse. This leads her to reuniting with a friend named Lucy, who is brought upon by the pills that Barbara consumes hungrily as if they were bits of hard candy. Lucy Comes to Stay is perhaps the worst of the Asylum tales but continues to show effort placing it into the genre of murder mystery. For the sheer femininity of it all, Lucy Comes to Stay is the typical bad-girl RX fantasy you witness in such films as Girl, Interrupted in which pseudo-lesbian relationships clash with the stupidity of it all. The vanity of Barbara's character is revealed after the story is told as she smiles to Lucy in the mirror, the misguided hormones winding into a tornado of self-assessment and utter satiation. The final short film takes place at the current coordinates of Dr. Martin, within his own reality as well, for his unbelieving eyes to witness. Still not quite sure who Dr. Starr is, Martin meets the final patient, Dr. Byron, and his collection of miniature automatons built with supposed organic viscera and the capacity to will ones mind within the tiny bodies.
This is the default "tiny terror" story that winds up in most films of this caliber but you won't find a complaint out of me. These films of sinister puppetry tickle my fancy in ways that undercooked psychopath dramas will never have the pleasure of doing. As several Amicus horror pictures seem to embrace, Asylum is but one of the strange style of "Choose your own adventure" novels that Amicus breeds, according to the synopsis of The Beast Must Die. The tales within Asylum are refreshing and morbid, embracing modern gothic with varying aesthetics. The Weird Tailor being the most accomplished in art direction as the dark cobblestone streets are rivaled by a suit that emits an eerie glow. Asylum is an excellent entry in horror anthology but I feel more partial to Tales that Witness Madness as the framing story was genuinely surprising and ultimately featured more variety of horrific tales. It's a shame that Max Rosenberg, co-president of Amicus Productions, didn't favor film as much as the directors he employed showed. In an interview collected in a featurette called Inside the Fear Factory, Max Rosenberg admits having "no emotional investment in this kind of filmmaking and I did it to make money." Which he did, following the release of Asylum, with Tales from the Crypt.