Doom Asylum (1987)

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this post is yet another tribute to the defunct Roku channel Bizarre TV.  In particular, it is a tribute to that final six movies that played for a long time before the channel finally went away.  I’ve already covered half of the final six – here, here, and here.  It’s time to add a fourth to the list.

And wooo boy it is Doom Asylum.

When I first saw this movie, I had one of those reactions that you have when you begin to doubt reality and make you wonder how a thing like this gets made.  It’s the same reaction I had while sitting in a theater watching Cats.  You ask things like “What?” and “Where?” and “Huh?” and “Why?” an awful lot.  It warps your sensibilities until you just stare at the TV, mouth agape, and just sit there and allow the movie to have its way with you.

Considering this played over and over and over, twice every day for months, and since Bizarre TV often served as a warm blanket to have playing in the background while I worked or made dinner or what have you, I saw Doom Asylum a lot.  Like a lot a lot.  After about the 37th time I watched it, things started clicking for me.  While it wears the sheep’s clothing of a horror movie featuring a disfigured guy killing unsuspecting young people who do incredibly dumb shit, it’s not a horror movie.  I mean, yes, it hardly is a movie, but it is meant to be a comedy and a send up of the types of movies that were so popular in the 80s – horror movies with disfigured bad guys killing unsuspecting young people who do really stupid shit.

Now, call it scientific study and analysis, or call it Stockholm Syndrome, but I actually love this movie.  It’s one of those bizarre little gems that takes up residency in your brain.  You didn’t invite it to live there.  You don’t really care for how it just leaves its dirty socks and underwear everywhere – especially in the kitchen sink.  You don’t really care for how often it invites its sketchy friends over to drink beer and talk about their shitty approaches to dating.  In fact, you’re pretty sure you are a captive held against your will in your own personal space.

But at least one of the movie’s sketchy friends is the brother of Patty Mullen and she comes over and hangs out with you specifically while all this goes on.

Patty Mullen only has three acting credits to her name.  Doom Asylum was her first before going on an episode of The Equalizer.  What’s she’s most known for, though, is playing the girlfriend of a bereaved scientist in Frank Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker.

Prior to acting in those movies, Mullen was already well known as a Penthouse Pet of the Month in 1986.  In fact, she became Penthouse Pet of the Year for 1988.  I’m not going to pretend to understand why she didn’t do more movies.  While Doom Asylum is a really goofy, and arguably amateurish, movie, it’s not like she doesn’t have the looks.  She has some comedic abilities as Henenlotter was able to really use her to a lot of fun effect in Frankenhooker.  It’s quite possible she just wasn’t that into acting.  She ultimately retired from acting and went to Florida to raise two daughters.  She will show up from time to time on the convention circuit but she doesn’t seem to have any interest in returning to acting.

At the very least, I would hope that being a Penthouse Pet didn’t force her out.  I kind of feel like by the late 80s, that wouldn’t have been an issue.

Also making her first appearance with this movie is Kristin Davis.  If, you know, you’re into stupid chick TV stuff, you’d know Davis from Sex and the City.  Now…  I’m no expert when it comes to Sex and the City.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single second of the show.  I can say, if I had my druthers, Kristin Davis would be the lady I’d like to do some of the title with.  That said, in Doom Asylum…  I’m real conflicted when it comes to Davis.

First…  Remember Patty Mullen is around, and she’s super.  Just super.  However, Kristin Davis is in this entire movie in a one piece swimsuit (or possibly leotard).  That’s nice.  She might have these big nerdy glasses on, but she does look like she’s taking care of herself.  I mean there’s little left to the imagination.  Also, I’m fairly certain I know her exact grooming ritual.

I mean… right?

All that stuff is just fine by me.  The problem is…  And I’m not entirely sure how to say this in a really mindful and respectful way but…  Every time she says something in this movie, I just find myself responding, aloud, “Shut up, Kristin Davis.”  Like, she’s this nerdy, pragmatic person.  Okay, fine.  However, she also likes to make sure everyone knows she is this nerdy, pragmatic person.  It gets under my skin.  It’s like you wouldn’t want to be around that person in real life, even if you 100% know she shaves her bush bald, without either throwing her out of a car, or at least telling her to shut her fuckin’ claptrap.

She’s not the only annoying character of the friends either.  There’s this goober dude that hangs out with this main group of friends.  He’s real into baseball.  Like real into it.  He walks around with his Mets hat on and his baseball cards, and yes, I recognize them as 1986 Topps cards because of course I do.  Anyway, this dude, Dennis, just cannot shut up about baseball stats, or his cards, or whatever.  It’s insanity.  Between this goofball and Kristin Davis…  I begin to actively root against most of the characters in this movie.

The movie opens with a convertible driving down a road.  In the car are Judy (Mullen in one of two roles she has in this movie) and Mitch (our eventual villain played by Michael Rogen).  They are apparently celebrating their love.  They talk about how they plan on running off and being together – especially after she dumps her kid off at the orphanage.  Mitch apparently is a lawyer who just hit it big on a huge, multi-million dollar case.  She spills champagne on his crotch to play around with him and canoodles with him, and he doesn’t notice they are headed toward a deathtrap.  They wreck the car and they get thrown.  Mitch barely survives despite a lot of his skin being gone, but Judy dies.

When Mitch wakes up on the slab in the autopsy lab, he goes nuts when the coroners tell him Judy didn’t make it.  He kills them and the place eventually closes down.  Ten years later, Kiki (Mullen and the daughter of Judy that we saw at the beginning) and her friends decide to go for a ride and a picnic in the same area where Kiki’s mom and her boyfriend died.

So, it is true that the guys in this group are planning to hang out around this closed down asylum or hospital or whatever it actually is because they’ve heard the stories of the mangled coroner who slashes anyone who comes near the place and they want to see if it is true.  Of course, Kristin Davis’ Jane is going on and on about how this is some sort of psychological something or other and that they are all childish and whatever, ugh “Shut up, Kristin Davis!”

But here, we meet our characters, of course there is Jane (Davis) and Dennis who I  mentioned earlier.  Then there’s Darnell who I think is just meant to be black guy horror movie cannon fodder.  Then there’s Mike, Kiki’s boyfriend.  Mike is another character and a half.  His big thing is he’s both too accommodating of other people, and he’s horrifically indecisive.  Oh swell.  I think this goof is going to be lined up as our hero.  What’s wonderfully funny in this first scene with Kiki and her friends, is that Mike is trying to comfort her by saying that maybe things will be alright, or at least he thinks it might be. He also says he couldn’t be her mother, but he will do whatever he can to take care of her.

So Kiki asks Mike if she can call him “Mom” and he agrees.  At this point, you gotta realize this shit is real dumb.  There is nothing to this movie that should be taken seriously, nor can it be.

But enough of that…  The friends get to the condemned hospital and they hear crazy loud screaming heavy metal music and they learn they are not alone.  The band Tina and the Tots are practicing.  Tina is played by Ruth Collins who we last saw in Prime Evil.  Darnell shuts off the power to their instruments which causes two things to happen.

First, we get to see the most amazing performance ever from Ruth Collins who cackles after saying something mean or evil.  She is just going for it and it’s goddamn awesome.  Second, Godiva, a member of the Tots, sees Darnell and it’s love at first sight for both of them as they imagine themselves running in slow motion toward each other in a field before embracing and humping each other.  The third member of the Tots, Rapunzel who is this communist Euro trash chick, fills up condoms with water and bombs our heroes.  Then, Tina yells down at them, “Get lost, fuckbrains!”  She then flashes them.

Darnell goes in to deal with Tina and the Tots but ultimately gets killed by Mitch.  So, yeah, Darnell is the first to die because he’s the black dude in a horror movie.  Godiva, not seeing Darnell from the roof of the hospital, wonders if he’s coming up to the roof to see her.  Rapunzel decides to go off and spray paint some “revolutionary slogans” on the walls.  And then this line happens:

You see what I mean when I say Ruth Collins is just the best in this movie?

Rapunzel gets attacked by Mitch and gets her face melted off in an acid bath that just so happened to be in the sink of the shitter.  In yet another oddball comedic moment, Rapunzel tries to save her life by saying she was a Republican and that she voted for Reagan.  I guess this is to show she’s all sound and thunder but is really just a coward when the chips are down?  Anyway, Mitch tells her that he respects her first amendment right to vote for the party of her choice but he doesn’t agree.  I’m sure that was funnier in 1987 and 1988.

Cool makeup effects, though.

Darnell’s disappearance is starting to concern Mike and he wants to go look for him, or not…  He’s trying to figure out exactly if she go and look for him or not.  Dennis is concerned about his baseball cards being wet from the water balloon condom.  Kristin Davis is saying that people are psychologically damaged and have real problems.  Shut up, Kristin Davis.

Mike does go into the hospital to try to find Darnell.  As he does that, Dennis goes off on his own, and I don’t want to put down a guy who might have some cognitive issues, but I feel as though Dennis should go nowhere on his own without a helmet and maybe some knee pads or something?  I feel as though Dennis is, like, exceptional?  But the kind of exceptional that is low functioning.

The good news, though, is that he is no longer a burden on us because he gets a drill to the fuckin’ face.

I think it is a good time to talk about our killer, the Coroner.  He doesn’t seem like the most consistently proficient of killers.  First of all, Darnell and Dennis talked earlier about how whoever goes to the abandoned hospital usually doesn’t come back, or, if they do, they are pretty messed up.  But from what we’ve seen, I kind of get the feeling that he only kills and maims when he, you know… feels like he wants to.

Most of the time, it seems he’s pretty fine letting Tina and the Tots hang out and practice their loud heavy metal.  He likes watching an old movie on TV.  He sometimes stalks through the halls.  He cleans his tools.  He sets up an acid bath in sinks in the bathroom.  He then goes back to his room and watches that movie.  Sometimes he reminisces about Judy and plays with the hand that he kept from her corpse.  So I’m not exactly sure he cares all that much because if he’s not that careful, anyone who comes to the hospital can just… Leave.

Thankfully, people keep coming to him.  As is the case with Godiva.  She goes looking for Darnell after deciding he’s the one for her, and when she finds Rapunzel’s melty head, Mitch shows up behind her and strangles her with a stethoscope.  Tina and Mike get into a fight which causes him to nearly be thrown off the roof.  This also brings Kiki and Jane into the hospital.  So now it’s Mike, Jane, Kiki, and Tina who’s left looking for their friends and at the mercy of the Coroner.

Kiki’s freaked out, but Jane always has to have some sort of psychological explanation… UGH.  Anyway, she refuses to believe anything is wrong and ultimately runs into Tina first, who sets her straight, before she runs into the Coroner…  And finally Kristin Davis shuts up.

Tina is nearly killed next, but Mike scares off the Coroner.  He thinks Tina killed Jane, but only realizes that she might be telling the truth when he hears Kiki screaming.  Eventually, Mike and Kiki are forced to go through the hospital alone and Tina is another part of the hospital by herself.  Eventually, the Coroner jumps out and drugs Mike and captures Kiki.  He has Kiki tied up and decides to do a little operating on Mike by snipping off his toes.  I should mention that, while this is a particularly effective effects shot, I honestly do not know if this ultimately kills Mike.  I mean, he’s screaming, he’s sweaty, and he eventually passes out from the pain, but I think it is meant to imply he bled out and died?

I really don’t know because Tina comes in and has a fight with the Coroner.  She kind of beats him up but good with a pipe and knocks him out.  Tina frees Kiki and they take off running except Tina accidentally does herself in.

Kiki runs away and tries to escape the Coroner but he’s hot on her tail.  He keeps calling her Judy and believes she came back for him.  He says he killed them for her and is super excited she’s back.  As he paws at her, she knees him in the balls. Soon she’s back at the picnic site her and her friends made earlier.  The Coroner follows and drops to his knees crying.  She sees a newspaper clipping he has of her mother’s death and asks him about his feelings for her mother and stuff.  When he reveals how happy he was, she tells him how she knows about their plans to dump her while they go off to live happy.  She stabs him with a mirror she found earlier that belonged to her mother.

He dies screaming about how he loved her and whatever, and she checks herself out in the mirror and says, “I’ve got to tell you, I have a real problem with that.”  She then… Just… Walks away and the movie ends.

Now…  I’d normally say that I think the movie just ran out of movie.  But I have a feeling this was kind of a multi-faceted bonkers, mind-boggling conclusion planned out by the writer and director.  Let’s unpack that.

First, I think this is just meant to be in line with the “comedy” of the movie.  I put comedy in quotations because it’s not going to land for everyone.  However, it is jokingly anti-climatic.  She just stabs him in the face with that mirror.  Meanwhile, he’s like this blubbering pile of goopy person crying over the loss of Kiki’s mother.  She started the movie with some issues she is trying to deal with.  Specifically the fact that her mother died, and she apparently knew she was going to be sent off to boarding school or an orphanage.  So instead of showing any kind of empathy for this poor blubbering pile of skinless monster, she just kills him.  End movie.

Another thing is that I have to believe there is an actual significance to the exact thing she said about having a problem with this guy.  I feel like that might be an inside joke or something with the writer or director or maybe Patty Mullen herself.  Was it a common thing people said in the 80s?  You know, like in a singles scene or general social settings?  It feels like one of the few actually natural lines spoken by anyone in the whole movie.  I dunno…

This is basically just one of those movies you have to see to really understand all the complexity of wackiness that is packed into the scant 77 minutes that makes up this movie.  For next week, I’m going to take a look at another anthology movie since I haven’t done that often or even recently.  I’ll be looking at the 2011 flick Chillerama!

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