Insanitarium (2008)

JULY 19, 2008


One perk of working for movie websites is the set visit, where you are usually flown to some exotic locale (Vancouver) and are given money to spend in addition to having meals, board, etc. all covered by the studio. It’s great. At least, so I understand. Since I have a real job, I never get to do those for Bloody Disgusting. The only time I DID was for Midnight Meat Train, which was shooting about 4 blocks from my apartment. No flights, no hotels, no meals (I did have a bottled water though), no nothing. And since my digital recorder was stolen before I could transcribe any of the interviews I did there, there’s really no proof I was there beyond a quick bit I transcribed that day, where MMT’s writer, Jeff Buhler, told me about a film he was doing called Insanitarium. I thought it was something he was developing, so I was pretty dang surprised to see it actually be released BEFORE Meat Train.

And even more surprised to see how fun it was, a sentiment shared by HMAD reader LordScrodin, who recommended it some time ago. It’s not a particularly original movie, and the 2nd act drags a bit, but it’s just a good ol’ fashioned splatter pic, and didn’t deserve to go direct to video. They could have at least given it a midnight run a la Feast, because it’s the type of movie that would definitely play well with a big crowd of drunken folks. Besides, any movie with the line: “Paranoid delusions? Someone tried to eat my FUCKING FACE!” has to be appreciated (a runner-up: “He ate my arm, you selfish prick!”).

The latter line is probably the highlight of Carla Gallo’s performance, as she is otherwise dull and sort of mis-cast. Everyone else seems to be having a ball, but she feels a bit too serious. She’s cute as hell, and it’s nice to see her play someone besides “Bad Date” in a Judd Apatow flashback sequence, but she’s a weak link. To be fair, she plays nearly all of her scenes with Peter Stormare, who can have fun with anything and thus pretty much obliterates everything else on screen. After his disappointing (and all too brief) non-villain role in Premonition, it’s nice to see him play the mad doctor, and he’s clearly having a grand old time. Jesse Metcalfe, usually pretty stiff, also fares quite well as the hero; getting to stab and shoot zombie-ish cannibals is probably just as fun as rolling around with Eva Longoria (well, maybe not), but he actually seems more comfortable doing it.

And the gore is great. Not Wrong Turn 2 great (the kills here are sort of standard), but there’s a quantity over quality sense to it. Arms torn off, knives through the mouth, lots and lots of blood... by the end of the film, both our heroes are covered in it, as are most of the walls and floors that surround them. Of course, the setting is the usual movie sanitarium, all white and sterile, and it’s a nice little treat to see it so mangled and gory by the end.

I mentioned the 2nd act being a bit slow, but part of the reason is that the first act is so fast. We have a Prison Break (also with Stormare!) scenario, with a guy getting himself locked up to save his sibling and break back out, and it’s remarkable how quick he gets himself in there. I think by the ten minute mark he’s already locked away, and 10-15 minutes later he’s already on the “something’s wrong!” phase of horror movie hero development. We even get a nice cannibal moment about a half hour in. But after that it sort of treads water into the blood soaked 3rd act, and I wish Buhler had found a way to pace the 1st and 2nd acts a bit better. It’s definitely a film that keeps building and building (as opposed to a movie with 4-5 big setpieces), but that pace is thrown off a bit in the middle.

I like that the experimental drug is called Orpheum. We need more movie drugs named after music clubs. I would like to see an action movie with Van Damme or Seagal going after the guys who are putting Paradise or CBGBs on the streets. Speaking of names, there’s a guy named Loomis (yay!) and for some reason, the opening credits throw an umlaut on Buhler’s name, even though A. it’s not like that in the end credits and 2. It’s not how he spells it anyway, far as I know.

The extras are pretty light, but watchable. Thankfully there’s no usual EPK shit; for example, Stormare (who pronounces his own name, so I’m gonna go with that pronunciation from now on, since I’ve always gone back and forth between “Storm-Air” and “Storm-Arr-Ay”; the former is correct) conducts his interview laying down on an exam table and pretending he is Dracula. There is also a collection of deleted scenes, all wisely excised.

What say you?


  1. This is going to the top of my rental list now! By the way, I heard Attack of the Show co-host hottie Olvia Munn has a brief role in the does she fare?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Oh yeah... I was gonna mention her (because she IS damn hot). She's in it quite a bit, as the resident one "good" person who works for the crazy house. Would smash.

  4. wow, you must be sucking up to whoever made this film because it is beyond terrible.

  5. Finally, Anonymous has the courage to speak truth to power. I couldn't agree more with the above post.

    And I want to reiterate, this didn't entirely go direct-to-video; I actually paid money to see this in the theaters (or, perhaps, "theater"). So there.


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