Title: Don’t Look in the Basement! a.k.a. The Forgotten a.k.a. Death Ward #13 (1973)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Tagline: “Not Recommended for Persons Over 30!”
My Tagline: “Not Recommended for any Persons Anywhere!”
Favorite Quote: “Good evening deary.” & “Objection overruled.” & (paraphrased) 'Why didn’t you call us to say that your phone was out?'
Plot Synopsis: At a remote sanitarium an axe-wielding mental patient murders his doctor and rather than report it to the police or do anything else that would be unnecessarily responsible the head nurse, Dr. Gerladine S. Masters, simply assumes the role of headmaster and tosses the corpse down into the basement. Shortly after the murder a young nurse, Jane St. Claire, that the good doctor had hired a week prior arrives to report for her new job. She is informed of the Doctor’s passing and is assimilated into the Sanitarium’s staff. Masters also explains that she intends to continue the Doctor’s work with his philosophies and theories as the guiding torch. These theories include the idea that the way to help cure the insane (and even schizophrenia) is to support and feed their delusions and obsessions so much that they will reach a point of collapse where they will “use their own strength” to pull themselves out of insanity. I guess it’s like hitting the restart button for your brain. Needless to say this approach doesn’t work and with every second that ticks by the inhabitants of this nuthouse get crazier and crazier until by the end everyone is a murderer. There’s also a major plot twist that I would hope we all saw coming a mile away.
Review: Who would have thought that running an illegal sanitarium out of a country house with a staff of two and where the patients are allowed to roam freely with access to axes, knifes, prescription drugs, and no locks on the doors would be such a bad idea? You would become one light sleeper in that place let me tell ya. Aside from poor ol’ Sam and maybe Sergeant Gaffee everyone in that place was bat shit insane, and I mean the dangerous kind. So why the hell were they kept there? It obviously wasn’t a state institution (unless things have gotten a lot worse than I thought) and these people were supposed to be “The Forgotten” so where’d the funding come from? Was the Doc rich or something? How did he get acquire these people? Couldn’t he have applied his whacked out theories on one patient first before taking on a ward’s worth of crazies? And what they hell was Danny’s problem? All you’d have to do is kill him and half the movie's conflicts would be resolved right there. And poor Sam, his problem was the Doctor gave him a lobotomy. If he hadn’t been held prisoner by these people he could be okay by now. I could go on all day but what I’m driving at here is that the movie has a few plot holes and the occasional gaping maw of backward reasoning. The trick is to find joy in this, not sorrow. The film is terrible and terribly fun to watch.
This movie has some great lines and some terrifying close-ups that are so jarring it even puts “Killers From Space” to shame. And as far as those crazy characters that great bad movies need this film is bursting at the seams with them. (it takes place in a nuthouse after all) Everyone in this movie except Nurse Claire acts bizarre and brings something fun to the party. And they just seem to get worse and worse as the film continues. Nurse Claire is almost like the straight man for a comedian. All of the characters may be uniquely quirky and homicidal in their own very special ways but they need a unifying force to bring them together beyond the agitating force that is the prick Danny and it this need that Nurse Claire fulfills. She is no doubt a strong woman as well. If I was awoken in the middle of the night by Danny fondling me he’d be dead and I’d be outta there faster than you could demand that someone taste you and your new strawberry flavor. But Claire sticks it out right up until she starts screaming uncontrollably.
“Love me! Say it!”
There’s probably a lot I could say about this great movie but I’m worried it would reveal too much and may over-hype it so I’ll just let it be with a recommendation that you see this movie. You won’t completely regret it.
Trivia: This film was shot in 12 days with less than $100,000. (and it shows)