In 1977, Mel Brooks was riding high with the success of "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstien". Having spoofed the western and monster movie genres successfully, Brooks went after the scary thriller genre, specifically the Alfred Hitchcock scary thriller genre. To aid him, Brooks brought along some of his favorite actors-Cloris Leachman, Harvey Korman, and Madeline Kahn. Brooks plays Dr. Richard Thorndyke, psychiatrist head of the Psycho neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous. Dr. Thorndyke has a neurosis of his own-"high anxiety" (as in altitude). Some very strange occurrences start happening at the institute culminating in the mysterious death of Dr. Wentworth (Dick VanPatten). Dr. Thorndyke knows something is wrong and with his sidekick Brophy (Ron Carey) investigates. A beautiful woman, Victoria Brisbane (Madeline Kahn) figures in the mystery. The real villains frame Dr. Thorndyke for a murder in a hotel. To find the true killer and win the heart of Ms. Brisbane, Dr. Thorndyke has to conquer his "high anxiety".