Don’t Look in the Basement

The pits. It may be the most famous of all the horror films whose titles begin with Don’t (a sub-subgenre that may have inspired Edgar Wright’s Don’t trailer in Grindhouse), but it’s also very likely the worst. It’s a grade-Z horror flick about a secluded asylum taken over by one of its inmates (Anne MacAdams, who helped with the direction under her real name Annabelle Weenick), who disguises herself as a doctor after the previous head doctor is apparently axed to death. A nurse comes to work at the asylum and eventually escapes after the other patients have killed MacAdams/Weenick.

An absolute snooze from start to finish, Don’t Look in the Basement (the title is better than anything in the film) offers some unintentionally hilarious moments. An old woman (whose tongue is later torn out) leers at the camera, warns the nurse to “get out,” and recites two different misquotes of the haunting old poem Up the airy mountain/Down the rushing glen/We dare not go a-hunting/For fear of little men. A big, black lobotomy patient walks around eating popsicles and playing with a toy boat. A weirdo who thinks he’s a judge takes an axe to a doctor while the doctor is in mid-sentence (a failed seat-jumper similarly botched in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning). A telephone repairman is set upon by a nymphomaniac in a closet. This was all shot in twelve days in Texas on an under-$100,000 budget, and looks it. Anyone wanna bet Tarantino can quote from it extensively?

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