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MTI Home Video presents
Sanitarium (aka Diagnosis) (2000)

"I don't need to look at the pictures. I was there!"
- Dr. Max Warick (Jared Morgan)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: April 06, 2003

Stars: Jeremy Minns, Kate Copeland, Jared Morgan
Other Stars: Uri Geller, Terry Aaron, Harold Gasnier, Azucena Duran, Hannah Stansbridge, Tammi Baker, Harry Tufill, Kikki Kendrick
Director: Johannes Roberts, James Eaves

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for violence, gore, language
Run Time: 01h:20m:35s
Release Date: April 08, 2003
UPC: 619935406230
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+D-D D-

DVD Review

Mental hospitals are damn spooky places, if movies are any indication, that is. Sanitarium brings us yet another cinematic nuthouse, The Gatlin Psychiatric Institute, where twenty years earlier a series of deadly experiments had been done with a controversial drug called B-390. The story is told in flashbacks, as straight-jacketed, slightly agitated Dr. Max Warick (Jared Morgan) is interviewed by a pair of detectives, one of whom is played by none other than spoon-bending [DELETED UNDER THREAT OFLITIGATION FROM URI GELLER] Uri Geller.

As the story is laid out, it seems that twenty years ago the stark white hallways of The Gatlin Psychiatric Institute were home to a series of disturbing events that served to bring about all manner of suspicious, violent deaths. A young Dr. Max Warick (here played by Jeremy Minns) and his doctor wife Elle (Kate Copeland) are working for the eccentric Dr. Richard Callshot (Harry Tufill) at Gatlin, and the untested drug B-390 has been dished out to a number of patients, just prior to its public release. The trouble is that there seems to be some very unsettling problems with B-390, and Dr. Warick starts to dig in to find out what is really going on.

For gratuitous gore, there's a bloody autopsy room where Callshot performs surgical experiments on deceased patients, as well as his mysterious work on B-390. Midway through Sanitarium, while investigating Callshot's work, Dr. Warick goes suddenly mad and is hastily committed to a padded cell, which may or may not severely limit his ability to save the world from the nasty after-effects of the soon-to-be-released wonder drug.

The acting in a low-budget film like this is marginal and occasionally all over the map, but Jeremy Minns has the same kind of effectively cold and distant blank stare that Stephen Lack had as the troubled hero in Scanners. His straightjacketed scenes are played with a chilling sense of believability, as opposed to Harold Gasnier's hammy turn as the villainous Karnell, or for that matter spoon-bending [DELETED UNDER THREAT OFLITIGATION FROM URI GELLER] Geller's emotionless reads.

Sanitarium is the product of Cat N Cage Pictures, a promising upstart in the realm of dark British horror, and if the audio/video quality of their DVD releases can be improved then it might be possible to actually enjoy a film like this. The writing/directing team of Johannes Roberts and James Eaves have come up with a clever, dark bit of low-budget mental hospital horror, and it is too bad the sound and picture quality are so awful.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This one is certainly a contender for the "hideous transfer of the year" award, and likely to be a winner. Grain, faded colors, and impenetrable black levels are the order of the day, and this is just an abysmal transfer all the way around. To add insult to injury, it is presented in nonanamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen.

Image Transfer Grade: D-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Sanitarium's audio track is a nasty little 2.0 stereo mix that is harsh, distorted and fluctuates in any type of consistent levels. I was constantly raising and lowering the volume, and I can tell you there is nothing more annoying than a scream that clips and crackles. Dialogue is flat and difficult to understand at times, which further necessitated fiddling with the volume.

Audio Transfer Grade: D

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The copy I viewed for this review was a promotional print, and did not have any chapter stops. Whether the commercial release will is anybody's guess. With that said, the only extra is a theatrical trailer.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Sanitarium is plagued by one of the absolute worst audio/video transfer combos I've seen in quite awhile, and that severely impacted the enjoyment of this potentially eerie nuthouse flick.

Writer/directors Johannes Roberts and James Eaves show great promise with Sanitarium. Had the dialogue been clearer, and some of the image issues improved slightly, this might have made for an enjoyably disturbing low-budget horror outing.

 


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