🎥 Don’t Look In The Basement – 1973
The Story …
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 Sanitarium 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, Oliver W. Cameron, 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 Harriett, 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 Charlotte Beale, a pretty young nurse who informs Dr. Masters that Dr. Stephens had hired her a week ago. Dr. Masters begrudgingly allows her to settle in.
The young nurse meets the patients, including a lobotomized and childish man named Sam, who enjoys popsicles and his plastic toy boat, a nymphomaniac and schizophrenic named Allyson, 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 juvenile prankster named Danny, a shellshocked Sergeant who lost his mind after accidentally killing his men in Vietnam, and the crazed 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. After he disobeys her, Dr. Masters burns the Sergeant’s hand and murders Jennifer for stealing medicine. After a frantic conversation with Allyson, 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 situation to anyone on the outside.
Allyson 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. The judge informs her that they all know Masters is a patient, but they think Charlotte is also a patient.
Charlotte finds that all the windows and doors have been boarded up 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.
At the direction of Masters, Sam leads Charlotte upstairs, apparently, so the 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 (which Masters had assisted with) and lets Charlotte go. He then leaves the room as Masters cowers in a corner. As Sam leaves, the other inmates enter with weapons, and the judge brutally axes Masters to death. Sam is deeply disturbed, grabs the axe, and kills all the other inmates except Mrs. 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 cries to himself while eating a popsicle and viewing the carnage.
- Directed by : S. F. Brownrigg
- Written by : Tim Pope
- Produced by : S. F. Brownrigg and Walter L. Krusz
- Cinematography : Robert B. Alcott
- Edited by : Jerry Caraway
- Music by : Robert Farrar
- Production Company : Hallmark Releasing Corp.
- Distributed by : AIP
- Release Date : September 1973
- Bill McGhee as Sam
- Rosie Holotik as Nurse Charlotte Beale
- Annabelle Weenick as Dr. Geraldine S. Masters
- Gene Ross as “Judge” Oliver W. Cameron
- Camilla Carr as Harriett
- Hugh Feagin as Sergeant Jaffee
- Betty Chandler as Allyson King
- Jessie Kirby as Danny
- Jessie Lee Fulton as Jane St. Claire
- Rhea MacAdams as Mrs. Callingham
- Robert Dracup as Ray Daniels
- Harryette Warren as Jennifer
- Michael Harvey as Dr. Stephens
Film Information Source :
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