• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Don’t Look In The Basement

TITLE: Don’t Look In The Basement

YEAR: 1973

GENRE: Horror

AKA: The Forgotten, Death Ward #13

Today, independent film makers have the luxury of having their product seen by potential fans through DVD and Blue Ray releases and distribution networks such as Netflix and Redbox. Back in the 1970’s none of this was a possibility as the VHS tape were not practical until the end of the decade and even then a suggested retail price of $100 or more for a single movie for home viewing was not out of the question, and being discovered on Blockbuster shelves was ten years away. In order for a low budget movie to be seen they usually teamed up with another low budget production and play as a double feature at small town drive-ins and theaters that would cater to grindhouse fare. One of the more remembered features of this era would be Don’t Look In The Basement, a nasty little bone cracker that had moments of greatness but suffered from the usual low budget issues of Nixon-era micro-budget film making.

Young nurse Charlotte Beale (played by Rosie Holotik) goes to work at her first day at the Stephens Sanitarium, a small town insane asylum operated by Dr. Stephens (Michael Harvey) who believes that if his inmates are able to act out their delusions they will “snap out” of their problems and once again become productive members of society. Dr. Stephens is killed on the first day of Charlotte’s career by a crazed inmate nicknamed “Judge” (Gene Ross). The physician is replaced by Dr. Geraldine Masters (Anne MacAdams) who is mysteriously uncomfortable around vendors and other outsiders, and this is making Charlotte nervous. This is the least of Charlotte’s problems, as she later discovers that Dr. Masters is really a resident of the institution and her goals are more sinister than Charlotte’s nightmares. As residents start to drop dead Charlotte knows she must escape to survive her days as a nurse at Stephens Sanitarium.

Don’t Look In The Basement was a micro budget film made on a $100,000 budget so it is fairly primitive looking compared to most horror of the time such as The Exorcist which came out about the same time. Some of the cinematography is almost documentary quality of the time, but it also adds a grindhouse feel that makes Don’t Look In The Basement a bit special in appearance and might be why it has enjoyed continued popularity over the years (being a public domain film and having tons of low grade distributors adding the tile in their catalog does not hurt). The storyline is actually a little unique compared to most horror offerings and the film does deliver some originality, and in addition some of the characters are memorable including the popsicle sucking Sam (Bill McGhee) who is about as creepy as secondary characters come. On the negative, the acting is downright terrible at times and the cheesiness factor does detract from the finished product. One of the most interesting and fun aspects of this film is the closing credits which shows a strong sense of humor and are worth seeing.

Director S.F. Browning later wrote and directed the film Poor White Trash 2 (also known as Scum Of The Earth), which is known for its unique production style and downright trashy hillbilly subject matter. Don’t Look In The Basement was teamed up on its first drive-in tour with the legendary horror film The Last House On The Left which introduced the world to director Wes Craven. Don’t Look In The Basement has some creative moments that are miles above most exploitation films yet also shows some major blemishes that does not allow the film to raise to an elite status. Still, Don’t Look In The Basement is very worth seeing and will entertain most gorehounds and horror fanatics.

* * * 1/2

–Mark

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