Sunday, December 9, 2007

"Don't Look in the Basement"(1973)d/S.F. Brownrigg

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Here we have one of my favorite low-budget classics of the 1970's,a staple of both the drive in and late night television for years.I remember sneaking into the parlour in my footie pajamas late on Friday and Saturday nights and taking in Brownrigg's minor epic of bloody popsicles and dead telephone repairmen in the closet like the twisted little horror nut I always was.My buddy Rich just got his outrageous hands on an original one-sheet in great condition,and of course,I'm feeling a slight spark of envy on this end!Let's press ahead,wild things...
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"Up the airy mountain,down the rushing glen.We never can go hunting,for fear of little men..."
Dr. Stephens helps Judge Cameron(Gene Ross)free pent-up personal demons by swinging an axe into a tree stump outside the Stephens Sanitarium (for the terminally bananas),when Judge shows his appreciation by planting the blade squarely in the good doctor's back.Charlotte Beale(played by groovy 70's Playboy cover model and genre lady-in-waiting,Rosie Holotik)arrives at the lonely loony bin in hopes of employment.She's shown around the place,reluctantly at first,by Dr. Masters(Annabelle Weenick) and is introduced to the sanitarium's gaggle of loonies.Sam's a big black goober whose world revolves around popsicles and launching plastic boats in the bathtub.Sergeant Jaffee thinks he's in the middle of a war.Harriet slavishly tends to a plastic baby doll as if it were her own offspring.Mrs. Callingham is a creepy old coot who repeats disturbing rhymes and thinks flowers are her children.Allyson is a washed-up-on-the-beach nymphomaniac,Jennifer is catatonic,and Danny,well he's cursed with a horrible orange cauco-fro and a lousy sense of humour.People have been institutionalized for less.
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Dr. Stephens breaks Bruce Lee's cardinal rule:Never turn your back on a loonie.
Charlotte finds herself a good fit at the sanitarium,helping each patient with their respective suitcase full of manias,seemingly on the threshold of a dark secret that everyone's aware of but her.The previous nurse,Jane,gets her head squashed in a suitcase before she can get outski after Harriet's missing babydoll turns up in the nurse's quarters.Mrs. Callingham tries to fill Charlotte in,but mysteriously bites her own tongue off in the middle of the night.Sam raves on and on about Dr. Stephens,but he's dead,isn't he?Jennifer snoops around the office,but takes a sharp paperholder to the eye.When a missing case history turns up in Sarge's room,he's forced to let it painfully burn into ashes in his own hand.A repairman appears on the scene to fix the bum telephone,but runs into a horny Allison,then goes missing.As Nurse Charlotte slowly pieces together the sanitarium's sordid secret:the nuts are running the nuthouse,the good judge informs her that she,too,is a mental patient at the facility!A loopy finale finds our heroine uncovering a gaggle of corpses before Dr. Masters enlists Sam's retard strength to drag the nosy nurse to the operating table for a lobotomy.Reminded of his own failed operation,Sam goes totally crackers and drags Charlotte to safety,while the other maniacs rend Masters limb from limb,giving the she-psycho a taste of her own morbid medicine.Instead of fleeing the chunk-blowing scene with the innocent girl who helped him launch his plastic boat in the tub,Sam decides instead to go back inside,and slaughter everybody in one fell swoop.As the movie draws to a close,the slow-witted blood-soaked lummox is crying in his popsicle...
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After mass murdering the whole asylum with his bare hands,Sam's bloody popsicle has lost some of its tastiness.
Also released as "The Forgotten" and "Death Ward #13",this sleeper was filmed in Tehuacana,Texas,more popularly known as "the middle of fucking nowhere" which adds to the sleeper's atmospheric thrills.Noteworthy for multiple shocks,groovy seventies bare loon-teat,liberal doses of the red stuff,and the comely Holotik of "Horror High" fame aptly carrying the twisted tale to its close.If you've actually never seen "Basement"(I'm gathering you must live somewhere NEAR Tehuacana,in this case)by all means do.It delivers!Dedicated to Texas Rich and his impressive new one sheet...
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There's more than a coal stove in THIS basement,Miss Charlotte.
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