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A deeply disturbed photographer and Vietnam veteran, named Kirk Smith, terrorizes Los Angeles by going around strangling lingerie-clad young women in their homes while taunting Lindsay Gale... See full summary »
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Nurse Charlotte Beale arrives at the isolated Stephens Sanitarium to work, only to learn that Dr. Stephens was murdered by one of the patients and his successor, Dr. Geraldine Masters, is not very eager to take on new staff. Charlotte finds her job maddeningly hard as the patients torment and harass her at every turn, and she soon learns why Dr. Masters is so eager to keep outsiders out. Written by
The UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC to remove a closeup shot of an axe blow to a woman's body and the film later found itself on the banned list of video nasties. The cut version was released on the UK HHO label in 2005 and the full uncut version (now rated 15) was released on the Stax label later the same year. See more »
When the people are chopping someone up with axes, one of the heads of the axes fall off. See more »
This film kicks off as I thought it would go on, in that a mental patient slays his doctor with the business end of an axe. However, considering that was included on the Video Nasty list in the 80's, it isn't very gory. I fully understand and agree with the idea that buckets of gore does not make a movie great, but when I'm watching a shocking, previously banned Video Nasty; call me old fashioned, but I generally expect to see gore. Still, the film does have other redeeming features.
The acting isn't one of them however; when watching a film like this, one doesn't go in expecting to see great performances, but some of the acting in this movie was so unbelievably below standard that at times even I, a fan of shock horror with bad performances, cringed. The old woman that later has her tongue removed is a particular cause for concern on this film's acting resume; I know that the roles of the mental patients are meant to be fairly quirky, but this one was downright insulting. The rest of the bad performances come from unknown actors, most of which would never go on to make another film, or at least another film of note; and that is quite fitting really.
Another feature of the film that isn't redeeming is the way it is filmed. If I said that it was unprofessional, I'd be right; and I am right, the movie is unprofessionally filmed. Because of this, the whole piece stinks of amateurs at the bottom of their craft. I know that you cant expect fabulous cinematography from a film such as this, but the fact that it is bad makes sure that the film faces an uphill struggle from the start; it looks bad, and for some that will mean it is bad.
However, despite all said so far; this film really does have some redeeming qualities. The characters for one; they're not particularly well done; they certainly aren't deep or fleshed out, but they do make sure that the film creates the right atmosphere for a sanatorium; they're a mixed bag, and although I've never been in a nut house, the one in this film is what I'd expect one to be like. Also of note is the way that it's fairly well plotted; there's always something going on to keep you entertained and it doesn't tie itself up with lots of meaningless plot details, which is definitely to it's credit. The twist towards the end should have been seen coming a mile off by me, but it wasn't, and I think that is to the film's credit also; it catches you by surprise. By the end, it becomes obvious as to exactly what is in the basement, but by then it doesn't matter because the film is nearly over anyway.
Overall, Don't Look in the Basement is one of the better Video Nasty's that I've seen, and I've seen a few from that illustrious list. What it lacks in certain areas, it makes up for in others and although it's not very gory, certainly not by today's standards; I'd still recommend this to fans of shock horror cinema.
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