OU film production of 'Mental Hospital' makes its way to Web 

Remember that movie shot in-state with that wacko nutjob? No, not Helen Hunt in "Twister." I mean 1953's "Mental Hospital."

You've never heard of the 20-minute educational film? Through the magic of the Internet, you can watch this lost gem (yeah, we're being facetious) via www.archive.org, among other sites. It's a production of the University of Oklahoma, produced for the Oklahoma State Department of Health in cooperation with the State of Oklahoma Department of Mental Health. It was scripted by Dwight V. Swain, former OU faculty member for professional writing. Patients were portrayed by crew members, producers and friends.

Shot at Norman's Central State Hospital (now known as Griffin Memorial), the black-and-white film has all the trappings of the current spooky trailer for Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island": creepy music, an intimidating structure and, well, people out of their right minds.

"These buildings ... they're all so dark!" complains our schizophrenic protagonist as he's taken to his new home, where all the authority figures are old white men, and he's subjected to a blood test with an awfully long needle, a spinal fluid test and horrid-looking cafeteria food.

We see how he came to be here, in a courtroom scene rife with tension:

Judge: "How are you feeling? Why don't you tell me about it?"

Crazy Guy: "You don't fool me!"

Judge: "I'm going to send you to the hospital."

The surroundings are grim as ever, with patients sitting in wheelchairs, clawing at windows, crouched on cement floors. Says the narrator, "Many patients are old. ... Some patients are disturbed."

"Mental Hospital" tries to convince us that playing dominoes is fun. It even gives our paranoid hero a happy ending. "This place has given my life back to me," he says, as the angelic harp music kicks in. You, however, are driven insane.

Pin It

About The Author

Gazette staff

Fright Fest @ Frontier City

Wicked Forest of Terror @ Wicked Forest of Terror

View all of today's events »

© 2022 Oklahoma Gazette / Tierra Media Inc. All rights reserved.

Powered by Foundation