A short while ago, I heard the most exciting news any retro horror fan had heard in a long while. Camp Motion Pictures were going to release a 5-Film Box Set with some of the most obscure shot-on-video (SOV) on DVD! While that news WAS
exciting, the real kicker was them saying they were releang a lost Super 8 feature-film entitled The Basement for the first time on VHS and DVD with the box set! That's right; a brand new VHS tape!
So on September 13, while most horror fans were running out to their local FYE for the Halloween II Blu-Ray, I picked up this incredible VHS/DVD set! This is part 1 or a five-part review, so be expecting those. While I was at FYE, I also picked up the Bad DreamsViting Hours double-feature, so be expecting reviews of those as well.
The Basement 1989 Review
The film opens with four strangers in a basement in some unknown house (we literally open with them in the basement). A door opens, and out pops the Sentinel! The Sentinel tells them that they are going to commit a mortal n in the future, and are being forced to see what it is. The first segment is Swimming Pool, in which a real bitch of a woman discovers she has some sort of creature in her swimming pool. She begins taking her enemies to the pool for the creature to eat. Then, in Trick or Treat, a grumpy man who hates Halloween is vited by some clasc monsters who punish him for not honoring the holiday. In Zombie Movie, real zombies attack the set of a zombie film. Finally, in Home Sweet Home, a young man moves into an old house where several gory murders were committed years ago.
While the premise of each story sounds cool, The Basement is a bit too low-budget for its own good. The make-up effects are surpringly great in some scenes, the film tries to pull off too many stunts that would probably only work in a moderately-budgeted film. Some of the locations are crap, and the dubbing is just awful. In fact, in one scene, a woman is dubbed by a man! I'm not joking. The acting is also pretty bad, and the dialogue is just unbelievably poor.
Despite these setbacks, director Tim O'Rawe's heart is in the right place, which gives the film a very low-budget charm. Given how low the budget is, I'm surprised it turned out this good! Like I said, some of the make-up effects are out of this world, and really wowed me! The witch make-up in Trick or Treat is some of the best you're apt to find in one of these DIY (Do-It-Yourself) films.
If I had to rank the segments from best to worst, here's how it would go:
1. Trick or Treat
2. Home Sweet Home
3. Zombie Movie
4. Swimming Pool
Trick or Treat was a very entertaining skit with the best make-up in the movie, which include gory impalement, a tongue getting ripped out, and a throat munch, not to mention some cool monsters like a zombie, a monster, a witch, a mummy, and the Grim Reaper. It feels like a retelling of A Christmas Carol, but with Halloween instead of Christmas and monsters instead of ghosts, not to mention all that gore! There are some hilariously bad moments, and the acting is a compete joke. Home Sweet Home is also entertaining, even if it's just for the copious amount of bloodshed. I wasn't a huge fan of Zombie Movie, but I liked the zombie make-up. There are some nice nods to horror fans, but it wasn't the best. Swimming Pool is ealy the weakest, due to it being too short and not enough blood and creatures. It lasts about ten minutes, and the whole thing is literally people falling into the pool, they nk, bubbles start roaring as they are eaten, repeat. There's no blood, and you never even see the creature (with the exception of a tentacle that lasts about two seconds)! Very disappointing segment, as it was the one with the coolest synops.
As far as special features go, there are a few goodies in Camp's debut release of this lost "clasc." First up, we have some great outtakes, including one where we actually see the water demon in Swimming Pool! Don't know why they cut it though; it would have made that segment so much better, no matter how cheesy it looks! There's also the actors and actresses goofing up dialogue, and other expected stuff. There's also some homemade short films (don't know what relation they have to The Basement, but OK), as well as some short films made by The Basement director Tim O'Rawe, one of which is actually very entertaining (Say No To Drugs)! And let's not forget the audio commentary by cinematographer Michael Raso and John Fedele is inghtful, and you get to see just how low-budget this really is. Last but not least, we have some interesting news footage where a local TV station went to the set of The Basement and did a very short interview with the director.
The Basement really isn't a good film at all. It's poorly acted, poorly written, many shots are very poorly lit (I had to really strain my eyes to see what was going on in Home Sweet Home), and the whole thing has been done before (the wrap-around story and ending are completely ripped from the original Tales from the Crypt). But the strange thing is...I really like it! All the bad elements add to the fun of the film, couple that with the great creature effects and the incredible score, you've got cheesy, popcorn movie bliss! Camp Motion Pictures has done the world a huge service by releang this on DVD and VHS along with such other "clascs" as Video Violence 1 & 2, Cannibal Campout, and Captives, four other cult clasc SOV horror films (which I will review later). The picture quality is very grainy, but I wouldn't have it any other way! If you're into retro '80s films, conder picking up this box set a must. It'll be a blast from the past you're not likely to forget anytime soon.