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The Forgotten

Don't Look in the Basement
Beyond Help / Death Ward #13 / The Snake Pit / Don't Go in the Basement

USA 1973
produced by
S.F. Brownrigg, Walter L. Krusz (executive) for Camera 2 Productions
directed by S.F. Brownrigg
starring Rosie Holotik, Annabelle Weenick (as Anne MacAdams), Bill McGhee, Jessie Lee Fulton, Robert Dracup, Harryette Warren, Michael Harvey, Jessie Kirby, Hugh Feagin, Betty Chandler, Camilla Carr, Gene Ross, Rhea MacAdams
written by Tim Pope, music by Robert Farrar

Don't Look in the Basement

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Nurse Charlotte (Rosie Holotik) is supposed to start a new job at Dr Stephens' sanitarium ... only to learn that the good doctor (Michael Harvey) has just been brutally murdered by one of his patients. The new head of the place, Dr Masters (Anne MacAdams) is less than excited about the new arrival, especially since she hasn't been informed, but since they're short-staffed at the moment - the other nurse (Jessie Lee Fulton) has mysteriously disappeared -, she lets Charlotte into the family ... and family is what best describes the sanitarium, really, as Dr Stephens didn't believe in distinguishing between patients and personnel, he had them live on the same floor one another, work alongside one another (with the patients doing household chores mostly), and none of the patients' sleeping quarters were ever locked. This is of course a lovely thought, but one has to know here all the patients at the clinic are psychopaths that were given up as incurable everywhere else, and Dr Stephens' methods to cure them after all were highly controversial (and ultimately got him killed, too). And it's not long before certain mishaps - like one patient (Rhea MacAdams) getting her tongue cut out - start to happen, and Charlotte is by the by threatened by pretty much every patient, from wannabe judge Cameron (Gene Ross) to nympho Allyson (Betty Chandler), from agoraphobic Jennifer (Harryette Warren) to doll-obsessed Harriet (Camilla Carr), from young maniac Danny (Jessie Kirby) to wannabe army sergeant Jaffee (Hugh Feagin) - only Sam (Bill McGhee), a big black guy, seems to remain harmless. And then people start dying at the clinic, and Charlotte has to realize the phonelines have been cut and there's no way out ... but what's even more worrying is that Dr Masters isn't actually a doctor but one of the patients who has just taken charge after the death of Dr Stephens, and she might be the one behind all the killings ...

 

Now I wouldn't go as far as to say that Don't Look in the Basement is a genre classic - but if you're at all into 1970s low budget grindhouse cinema, there's no way you won't like this one: It's crammed with contemporary pulp clichés and genre mainstays, moves its plot along at a steady pace, all the shocks are in the right places, and even if the plot is not the most original and rather far fetched (which is in my eyes one of the charms of the movie), it still manages to pack a few surprises.

So again, no classic ... just highly enjoyable!

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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