A stylishly shot and pleasingly tense opening scene shows promise, as a mysterious male photographer coaxes a nubile model (AJ Khan) to lie beneath a sinister torture device and be photographed while a huge spike hovers above her, moving ever nearer her midriff �

After the smog-laden (and very cinematic-looking) titles sequence, we discover that the photographer is none other than Roger Neale (Joseph Farrell) - a successful 'artist' whose work is hung in famous galleries around the world.

Models are apparently tripping over themselves for the opportunity to work with this twisted genius. His terms and conditions of contract insist that his models do not get paid, must submit to his every whim and that for the course of the shoot he "owns them, 24 hours a day".

Sam Rogan (Rob Monkiewicz) turns up at Neale's office one morning, with a contract from his employer permitting Neale to let the Real Estate Company's property - an abandoned mental institution (!) for a week-long photo shoot.

Before Rogan and Neale can sign the deal, however, Rogan must while away an hour talking to the photographer's PA Maura (Rachel Robbins) while Neale interviews a potential muse for his shoot. It's at this point that we realise just how perverse Neale's work actually is - Rogan witnesses photos of a naked woman squatting with her head down a toilet basin, a naked black nun with excrement smeared over her breasts, etc.

Neale sits in a smoky, darkened room with shades on, talking quietly in an attempt to intimidate his young female wannabe model, Bridget (Misty Mundae). Bridget is naked, cuffed and blindfolded, but willing to "do anything" to get the gig. Very nice �!

Rogan advises Neale that the company he works for will gladly let the photographer hire the property for the week, on the proviso that Rogan goes along for the ride to 'oversee' the project. It would appear that the premises house something sinister that the company would prefer to remain hidden from Neale et al!

A day later, Neale and Rogan arrive at the admittedly intimidating asylum with four beautiful ladies in tow - amongst them PA Robbins, and Mundae (yeah - she got the job!).

As the sextet make themselves familiar with the interior of said quackhouse, Rogan thrills the females with a tale of how the property is haunted and that the previous owner - Jacob Rossiter - was a torture fetishist who had built a secret torture chamber within the building. When asked if he knows where the chamber is, Rogan advises that no-one in his company has ever bothered to look for it � it's the not the type of feature they'd like to advertise when selling the property!!

But it's not Rogan the girls should be wary of � Neale is completing his portfolio in a "study of terror", and has no regard for his models' welfare whatsoever - so long as he gets the required shots of naked chicks in absolute distress.

Neale is portrayed as a bastard from the offset of the film (he treats the girls like shit; spies on them in bed via hidden cameras etc), and it swiftly becomes obvious that Rogan is the muscle-bound hero of the piece.

Unfortunately the movie takes a turn toward the supernatural in it's final third as the elusive chambers are uncovered and Rossiter's ghost appears - but the first hour certainly shows considerable promise with it's interesting themes on voyeurism, sexual sadism, the exploitation of fear, domination, and so on.

Having said that, it's in the final act that the FX finally kick in and the moribund pacing escalates somewhat. Not to say the film is unbearably slow, but the stylish photography, professional lighting, decent acting and interesting sets do tend to wear off after about an hour of thinking "right, is this thing going to get going?!".

But I'm doing Brett Piper's (DRAINIAC; NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL) SCREAMING DEAD a disservice. It's actually a very competent no-budget horror film with minor elements of erotica for those expecting the full-on Seduction Cinema treatment (this is far superior, I assure you).

As much as I enjoy watching the young pert talents of Misty Mundae, those Seduction Cinema 'films' do leave a lot to be desired � but here, the ample displays of flesh are backed up with credible performances, a refreshing 'seriousness' to proceedings and some pretty nifty FX work towards the end.

Yes, it's a tad slow, but very professionally made and always nice to look at (whether that be down to the Argentoesque lighting or the sight of Mundae chained and naked, covered in blood!).

The presentation on this disc is beautiful. Presented in it's original 4:3 aspect ratio (anamorphic), it looks fantastic - far better than it's high-definition video source would suggest. Very cinematic indeed, and a great testament to how far video has evolved!

The 2.0 audio is loud, clear and consistent. Full marks again.

Extras? Well, ei Independent Cinema obviously have a lot of faith in this flick because the disc is loaded with interesting bonus features.

First up is a look at the on-set making of the film, with some interesting on-screen interviews with cast and crew members.

MISTY MUNDAE: FROM SKIN TO SCREAM is an enjoyable insight into the evolution of the exploitation babe's film career. Filled with on-screen comments from industry colleagues as well as salivating fans, this documentary delights further by including clips from popular Mundae films (plus early works with the Factory 2000 guys) and of course an on-camera interview with the cheeky damsel herself. There are also a few clips from the forthcoming DRACULA movie she's starring in, which looks very interesting indeed - very Rollinesque!!

There's a short video document of the film's premiere at a Fangoria festival which is worth giving the once-over, I guess.

INSIDE THE ASYLUM is a video documentary complete with creepy score, aiming to enlighten viewers on the history of the real-life mental home used as a location on the film. Includes an interview with someone who became a patient after stalking Bruce Springsteen!

An "Eye On Cinema" making-of featurette offers little we haven't already witnessed by now, but is played out like a 50s short - shot in black and white, and equipped with stirring classical music beneath the OTT narrator's minute-long rant.

Finally, a photo gallery and collector's booklet round off proceedings nicely.

The disc comes housed in a black Amaray keepcase and is Region 0 NTSC encoded. All in all, this is both a solid modern horror film that marks Mundae's transition into "serious" acting, and an extremely generous addition to the DVD market.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by eI Independant Cinema
Region 1 NTSC
Not Rated
Extras : see main review