Running Time: 90 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Format: Standard 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Languages: English
Subtitles: None
Region: 1
MSRP: $19.99

Own It!
Don't Look in the Basement (1973)

Dr. Stephens, in charge of the Stephens Sanitarium, has a few odd ideas about treating the mentally ill; for one thing, he lets them indulge their delusions. When he indulges one patient by allowing him to get his hands on an axe, well....

The next day a new nurse, Charlotte, arrives, only to find that the doctor who hired her got whacked the day before. The new head, Dr. Masters, allows her to stay on, but soon phone lines are getting cut, patient's tongues are being cut out, and a lot of things are not as they seem.

Oh, hell, why am I even trying to make this thing sound interesting? This is the sort of picture UHF stations used to play at 3AM on weekends, back before there were infomercials. This is the sort of picture that made you look forward to the local used car commercials, because then there would be something halfway interesting to watch. This is the sort of picture that makes you want to swear off low-budget films forever.

There's a half-hour of story (maybe) padded out to an hour and a half; an ensemble that never gels, and a heroine who is a solid argument for Darwinism. Don't look in the basement? Don't look at the movie!

The print is in pretty good shape; there is speckling and lining, but these are kept to a minimum. Though the transfer tends toward grain and soft images, the picture stays remarkably clear; if your DVD player can monitor the data transfer rate, you'll see that this disc hovers anywhere from 9.5 to 10 mbps - most discs tend to hang around 4.6 to 8.2, depending on the demands of the picture, sound and whatnot. Your player manufacturer will also be quick to tell you that this is no guarantee of a better picture - and here is Exhibit A.

Well, the interactive menus, at least, are quite nice. There are four pages of "Film Factoids", with filmographies for director S.F. Brownrigg, and a couple of the other culprits. Screenwriter Tim Pope, it turns out, directed The Crow: City of the Angels, proving that the wheels of justice do indeed grind exceedingly slow. There are also previews for several other bits of VCI Video fare, which are in variable condition: Blood and Black Lace, Bird With the Crystal Plumage (both of which are letterboxed), The Night Visitor, and Gorgo.

Now let me out of here. I feel the need to do something less painful, like chewing on a wasp's nest.

Dr. Freex, 6/5/00