The Halloween Asylum Lives on in the Supermarkets

Jack-O-LanternAfter a campaign about Halloween costumes at supermarkets ended with them being withdrawn I was more than surprised to see ‘The Asylum’ appear prominently in the DVD section in one local supermarket and less prominently in another. To cap it all, the Television series appears to have reached number 4 in the charts when I looked.

The American series does not have a Halloween theme but coincidentally shares the same name as the subject of a recent campaign about a maze at Thorpe Park. So what’s ‘The Asylum’ about? Well I didn’t buy it but just read the blurb

Step inside a madhouse of horror…..terrifying evil lurk around every corner…from alien abduction to demonic posession to a skin-wearing psychopath

Really. Seriously. Number 4 in the charts.

I was relieved to find that ‘The Demented’ had disappeared from the shelf. I thought hopefully it had been tactfully removed. Its description reads

Six college friends …. find themselves fighting for their lives after a terrorist attack turns the local residents into rage infused zombies

and of course ‘The Demented’ is thought to be an appropriate title for this?

Off to see the bargain Halloween films in one local supermarket to find that ‘The  Crazies’ was selling for £3. Its description reads

‘Insanity is infectious’ and one review pasted onto the movie cover reads ‘you’d be crazy to miss it’.

The premise of this film is that a toxin is released which turns people ‘insane’ forcing the unaffected residents to defend themselves with guns.

We’ve talked about events, newspapers and costumes but maybe its time to talk about films and TV.

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One comment

  1. I’m going to step in here and defend ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ (the AHS part was apparently dropped in the UK). I thought it was one of the best things I’ve seen on television lately. I won’t defend any Halloween marketing campaigns, but the show itself actually did a much better job of demonizing the Catholic Church and the psychiatry establishment than any of the patients. In turn, we’re made to wonder who is the most evil — the incarcerated psychotic murderer, the older nun, the young nun, the sadistic doctor, the sympathetic psychiatrist. You might not expect who ends up looking the best in the end.

    I enjoy horror, and it was really quite frightening and very artistically done, with some exceptional acting (Jessica Lang, Sarah Paulson, Zachary Quinto). I’ve actually written two posts that incorporate elements from the show:

    Possession Trance Disorder in DSM-5:

    American Horror Story: Asylum takes place in 1964 at Briarcliff Manor, a terrifying mental institution for the criminally insane. The show uses every over-the-top stereotype in the book — straightjackets, isolation cells, shock treatment, the chronic masturbator, the nymphomaniac, the sadistic nun, the evil mad doctor, unethical experimentation, wrongful commitment, alien abduction, demonic possession, you name it — yet it still manages to be scary and stylish and suspenseful.

    In another post, I discussed a disturbing scene of aversion therapy for homosexuality in the context of actual practices in the 1960s and 70s:

    The year is 1964. Lana Winters is a reporter investigating the unethical practices at Briarcliff Manor, a mental institution for the criminally insane. She’s caught snooping around and is committed against her will to keep her quiet, with the ostensible reason being that she is gay. She is forced to have shock treatment. Sympathetic psychiatrist Dr. Oliver Thredson tries to persuade her to undergo aversion therapy, which is presented as more ‘humane.’ She eventually agrees because she thinks it’ll get released her from Briarcliff once Thredson pronounces her cured.’

    It’s a grueling scene that paints the practice in a much-deserved barbaric light.

    So while the marketing for the DVD release of the show might be offensive, I don’t think that’s the fault of the producer, director, and actors.


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