Ah, the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very, Nervous. It's a strange place, with even stranger staff; you'd have to be crazy to stay there. Except, it seems that they're not really interested in letting anyone leave. There's money in "caring for" sick patients, but no money to be had in sending well patients away, so they prefer to keep their loonies in the bin. The previous head of the institute wasn't willing to play that game. He had big changes planned... such as... the drapes. (The drapes?) The drapes. Or so Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman) would have you believe. But, it seems that some misfortune befell the previous head of the institute and now Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke has accepted the job. He doesn't realize what he's getting himself into, and Nurse Diesel and her lapdog of a doctor, Dr. Montague (Harvey Korman) will stop at nothing to keep the status quo. Eventually they hatch an ingenious plan to get rid of Thorndyke by making it appear that he has committed murder and he will have to overcome his lifelong fear of heights in order to prove his innocence.
While High Anxiety is funny and enjoyable in its own right, there are a multitude of references made throughout, from the overt, such as the cover art being a blatant reference to Vertigo to more subtle references, such as the exact shooting locations being reused in the film. The main thrust of the plot comes from Spellbound, a Hitchcock film about an insane asylum. There are a lot of other references from other Hitchcock movies, however, including: Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest, Torn Curtain, The Ring, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Suspicion, Dial M for Murder, Frenzy, Family Plot, Rebecca and The Lodger: a Story of the London Fog, among others. One of my favorite scenes is the Psycho shower scene spoof starring a young Barry Levinson, which was brilliantly done. My wife found the patient evaluation scene, where Dr. Montague preys on the patient's psychosis, to be hilarious. And the creepy Nurse Diesel character was excellently acted.
Hitchcock and Mel: Spoofing the Master of Suspense reveals that Mel Brooks was a great fan of Alfred Hitchcock and goes into some detail of their relationship and how Hitchcock was pleased with the idea of Brooks making High Anxiety. The other three special features are "track" based special features, meant for subsequent viewings of the film. The "Am I Very, Very Nervous?" Test asks questions during the movie, rewarding zany, insane answers. Don't Get Anxious! The Trivia of Hitchcock Trivia Track gives related bits of Hitchcock trivia throughout the movie. If you're a music buff, you can select the Isolated Score Track to watch the movie visuals while accompanied solely by the musical soundtrack.
The image quality wasn't eye-popping, but the film is from 1977, so a little degradation is to be expected. The image quality is better than The History of the World Part I on Blu-ray. The sound seemed well balanced and is in 5.1 DTS-HD.
High Anxiety is an awesome film, being funny while still maintaining a plot, having lots of gags, tempered with lots of references to other films. If you're a Mel Brooks fan, you need this movie. If you're a Hitchcock fan, you need this movie. I highly recommend this one.