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Asylum of Satan (1972)

Shot in Louisville, Kentucky on a budget of just $50,000, Asylum of Satan was director William Girdler’s first feature film, made when he was 24 years old.

Sweet and fragile concert pianist Lucina Martin (Carla Borelli) is sent to Pleasant Hill Hospital – a sanitarium – by her physician, Dr Nolan (Jack Peterkin). Despite her protests, she is told by Martine (Charles Kissinger), an employee at the asylum, that she is lucky to be treated by Dr Specter (also Charles Kissinger) – a “great man” whose speciality is pain.

When Lucina meets Dr Specter she demands to be released from the asylum but he insists that she has had a nervous breakdown (of which she has no recollection) and must recover in the isolation of Pleasant Hill. Performing a physical examination on the lovely Lucina, the doctor makes the comment that her skin remains “unblemished by sin”.

Lucina’s boyfriend, Chris Duncan (Nick Jolley) goes searching for her and tries to get the police, led by Lt. Walsh (Louis Bandy) to raid the asylum.

Meanwhile, Lucina’s fellow Pleasant Hill residents are killed one at a time – by insects, by fire and – in the case of a blind girl – by poisonous snakes in the swimming pool.

Lucina eventually learns that she is to be Dr Specter’s final sacrifice to Satan – one that will grant him eternal life for the delivery of a virgin.

Satan turns out to be the worst papier-mache head ever seen on celluloid, which rather ruins the impact and is memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Dr Jason Specter/Martine Williams
Charles Kissinger
Lucina Martin
Carla Borelli
Chris Duncan
Nick Jolley
Lt. Tom Walsh
Louis Bandy
Chief Aide
Claude Fulkerson
Dr Nolan
Jack Peterkin
Blind Girl
Sherry Steiner
Mimi Honce
Deaf mute
Harry Roehrig

William Girdler