BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Don’t Look in the Basement/Don’t Look in the Basement 2 (1973 & 2015) - Blu-ray Review

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Don't look in the basement - Blu-ray Review

5 beers“Put it down, Judge!  Put it down!”  With that command, the first murder in Don’t Look In The Basement occurs.  Already we’ve been introduced to a mad woman who thinks a baby doll is, in fact, her real baby, a grown man who behaves like a child, a sergeant still at war, and a staff of nurses who have the bedside manners of Mack truck.  And now Dr. Stephens (Michael Harvey), who treated these demented folks as a functioning family, is dead. 

Unfortunately, his unconventional psychiatric methods have claimed their first victim.  There will be others, too.  And its legacy will live on to survive a long gestating sequel, released three years ago.  Critically acclaimed, its sequel – while not as beloved as the original – is certainly not a disappointment.  It is, in fact, a new cult classic and serves the original well.

Written by Tim Pope and directed by S. F. Brownrigg (Don’t Open the Door and Poor White Trash Part II), Don’t Look in the Basement has a shocker of a twist.  It is completely off its rocker as the sane become insane and those already plagued by crazy become, well, crazier.  The original was initially released to drive-ins as a double-bill, with Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left carrying lead duties.  And, as a result, this one became a cult classic and Brownrigg himself become one of the most underappreciated directors in 1970s b-movie horror.

In spite of its low budget trappings and unorthodox narrative pacing, Don’t Look in the Basement remains a creepy horror film that wins over its audiences due to its performances, its confident swagger as a grindhouse flick, and a whole list of possible suspects as the bodies – and there are plenty – start to pile up, up, up.  The same, by covering the same ground, can be said of its smart-ass sequel.  Not to mention its editing – which features a nice sequence in which the nurses talk about their patients while we get peeks into their daily interactions – as its always engaged and correctly spot on. 

The remaining staff of two at the good doctor’s sanitarium – a house in rural Texas – must press on.  Their special set of skills are too far and few to come by anymore.  No one will understand that these patients are allowed to roam free and their exploits, no matter how pure, open them up to any possible shenanigans. 

And when Nurse Charlotte Beale (Playboy model Rosie Holotik), who claims to be hired by the doctor before his back was split open by an axe handled by a former officer of the court referred to as Judge (Gene Ross), arrives expecting to be put on duty, the lead nurse, Dr. Geraldine Masters (Anne MacAdams) has no other choice but to honor the late doctor’s request.  We don't doubt her descisions nor do we doubt the arrival of the pretty new nurse.  And maybe we should...

This is a madcap horror film.  It has unforgettable situations – a standout has to be the telephone repairman who really doesn’t want to fix the phone line and winds up getting propositioned for sex and LOVE by one of the residents – and stabbings, but the plot is fairly light as the inmates pretty much rule the roost.  Tongues are cut off, delusions are taken as reality, and secrets are revealed within the walls and windows of this truly American horror story.

Released alongside the film’s sequel which is co-written and directed by S.F. Brownrigg’s son, Tony and continues the original storyline by answering some remaining questions and debuted in 2015, this twofer blu-ray from BrinkVision offers genre fans enough gore, boobs, and chaos to make for a memorable midnight of gonzo goodies.  Just do as the title says.  There’s nothing you want to see down there.  Or is there? 

Crazy is as crazy does in the Don’t Look in the Basement series.  Trust me, you don’t want to know what’s down there…

Don't look in the basement - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Brink
Available on Blu-ray
- July 11, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: None
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Don’t Look in the Basement, in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio, and its sequel, presented in a 16:9 ratio, arrive on HD thanks to a much-needed 1080p upgrade.  The original has been scanned and restored from the best possible source.  There are still damages to the print that the new scan can’t fix, but this film looks all sorts of great on Blu.  There’s certainly more detail, even if the colors are a bit inconsistent.  While there is nothing wrong with the HD transfer of its sequel, it’s the original and its reddish hue which might disappoint viewers the most.  The sound is released in a Digitally Mastered Mono Soundtrack on the original and a 5.1 Stereo Surround for its sequel.   

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  Bonus, baby!  We get two new commentaries from Tony Brownrigg.  He’s the son of director S.F. Brownrigg and director of the film’s sequel.

Special Features:

There aren’t a lot of supplemental materials included, but the commentaries are rich with information directly from the horse’s mouth.  Also, the behind the scenes featurette for the second film is over an hour long of raw and uncensored material.  Geek out alongside the filmmakers as they go over the location of the original film.  The release also features a Limited Edition Slipcase cover with newly commissioned artwork. And, as another bonus, if your copy has the slipcover, then you are also getting the booklet featuring articles on Don't Look in the Basement from the writers of Evilspeak Magazine, Legless Corpse Magazine, and Ultra Violent Magazine.

  • Don’t Look Down in the Basement Behind the Scenes (70 min)
  • Trailers

Don't look in the basement - Blu-ray Review

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