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Don’t Look in the Basement

                                                                                                    Directed by: S.F. Brownrigg

Produced by: S.F. Brownrigg, Walter L. Krusz (executive producer)

Written by: Tim Pope

Starring: Rosie Holotik, Bill McGhee, Gene Ross, Hugh Feagin, Annabelle Weenick, Camilla Carr

Music by: Robert Farrar

Cinematography: Robert B. Alcott

Editing by: Jerry Caraway

Release date(s): 1973

Running time: 89-92 Min.

Language: English

Budget: $100,000

The film is set in Stephens Sanitarium, a secluded rural mental health institute whose chief doctor believes that the best way to deal with insanity is to allow the patients to freely act out their realities in the hopes that they will snap out of it, so to speak. The film begins with an elderly nurse in Stephens Sanitorium making her rounds. After a troubling incident in which a patient threatens her life, she decides to retire, and goes out to visit the chief doctor, Dr. Stephens, to inform him of the decision. Unfortunately, in the process of therapy (which involves chopping wood with an axe), the crazed former magistrate known as „Judge“ accidentally lands the axe in Dr. Stephens‘ back, apparently killing him. The shaken nurse returns inside to finish packing, where she is attacked by Harriet, a patient who accuses her of stealing her „baby“ (actually a plastic doll). The patient kills her by crushing her head in the nurse’s suitcase.

The only remaining doctor appears to be Dr. Geraldine Masters, who is greeted by a pretty young nurse who enters the institute and informs Dr. Masters that Dr. Stephens had hired her a week ago. Dr. Masters begrudgingly allows her to settle in. The young nurse, Charlotte Beale, meets the patients, including a lobotomized man named Sam (a number of proceedures have left him with the mentality of an eight-year-old) who enjoys popsicles and his plastic toy boat, a nymphomaniac and schizophrenic named Allison, an emotionally dependent woman named Jennifer, an octogenarian woman named Mrs. Callingham who spouts bizarre poetry and mistakes flowers in the garden to be her own children, a prankster named Danny, a shellshocked Sergeant who lost his mind after accidentally killing his men in Vietnam, and a crazed former judge who seems incapable of speaking in anything other than courtroom jargon and the repeated phrase „My name… is… Oliver… W… Cameron…“

Dr. Masters becomes disturbed when a telephone man comes to investigate the faulty phone system at the institution. Mrs. Callingham’s tongue is ripped out of her mouth during her sleep, although Dr. Masters tells Charlotte that Mrs. Callingham did it to herself. The audience later discovers that Dr. Masters is actually a patient at the institute, and that Dr. Stephens had allowed her to pretend to be a doctor. Dr. Masters burns the Sergeant’s hand after he disobeys her, and murders Jennifer for stealing medicine. After a frantic conversation with Allison, Charlotte discovers Dr. Masters‘ secret. Mrs. Callingham indicates to Charlotte that it was Masters who cut out her tongue, apparently to prevent the elderly woman from disclosing the secret. Charlotte then discovers the body of the telephone man in the kitchen closet, presumably murdered by Masters to make sure he would not report the institution’s location to anyone on the outside. Allison is distraught, as she thought the man was going to marry her, but she convinces herself that the man is still alive and drags his body to her room so she can have sex with it.

Charlotte realizes that her life is in grave danger, and she tries to escape. Judge informs her that they all know Masters is a patient, but that they think Charlotte is a patient also. Charlotte finds that all the windows and doors have been boarded by Masters, preventing an escape. Sam then leads Charlotte to the basement, where she is startled by a man grabbing her ankle and beats him to death with a toy boat. She realizes that it is Dr. Stephens, but not before finishing him off. Sam, at the direction of Masters, leads Charlotte upstairs, apparently so Judge can axe her to death. Sam thinks Charlotte murdered Dr. Stephens on purpose, so he helps restrain her. However, he has a flashback from his lobotomy, and lets Charlotte go. He then leaves the room as Masters cowers in a corner. As Sam leaves, the other inmates enter with weapons. Judge Cameron brutally axes Masters to death. Sam is deeply disturbed, and grabs the axe and proceeds to kill all the other inmates except Ms. Callingham, who is not in the room. Charlotte is already outside, having been told of a secret exit in the basement by Sam. She wanders around outside as the camera goes back to Sam, who, while eating a popsicle and viewing the carnage, cries to himself.

This was a very low-budget film widely released to drive-in theatres in the early 1970s on a double-bill with Wes Craven’s film debut, The Last House on the Left. The films shared the tagline, „To avoid fainting, keep repeating to yourself: ‚It’s only a movie.. it’s only a movie.. it’s only a movie..'“

Rated R by the MPAA for scenes of gory violence.

Short URL: http://www.thedailyhorror.com/newsblog/?p=1957

Posted by on Feb 24 2012. Filed under # HORROR-NEWS #, B-MOVIES, SPLATTER |, VIDEONASTIES |. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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