Film Review: The Basement (1989)

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SYNOPSIS:

Four strangers are summoned to the basement of an abandoned house by a mysterious entity known only as The Sentinel. One after another, they are forced to witness heinous deeds they have yet to commit – and which will damn them for all eternity.

REVIEW:

From Camp Motion Pictures, THE BASEMENT is a re-release of an older film from their catalogue. It’s kind of fun.It was made in 1989 and is an anthology-style horror film, which were very popular back in the 80s. This is very much a film of its time, apparently shot on VHS. The ADR is just horrible, most of the time the voices not even coming close to matching the lips. The make up effects are VERY much of the low-budget standard of the time. Quite good, mind you, but very dated. The acting is also very indicative of the time period. Personally I’m a fan of these 80s low rent horror anthologies. I grew up watching stuff like this, so I find it very nostalgic.

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Four characters are walking through a creepy basement for no apparent reason and can’t seem to find the way out. Suddenly they are confronted by a strange character called The Sentinel. He informs them they have “gone where it is forbidden” and as a penalty they must now confess their sins. Not what they’ve done…but what they will do in the future.

One by one, The Sentinel takes each person through their confession. Each vignette tells the story of their future sin. We have a husband-eating pool monster, a child-hating school teacher who is also a Halloween grinch, a low budget film crew getting more than they bargained for, and a young man who purchases a house with a sordid history.

The film crew vignette is by far my favorite, and the best looking of all of them. The seedy director, played by David Webber (his only listed film role), is delightfully swarmy and deserves everything he gets. If you’ve ever worked in indie film, chances are good that you’ve met this guy (the character, not the actor).And if you have, you’ve wished for this vignette to come true.

There are a few interesting notes to make concerning the cast and production crew.

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The score is written by Chris LaMartina, who has become quite a successful writer of horror movies. In fact his most recent film CALL GIRL OF CTHULU recently premiered. I know several people who worked on the new film. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but I’m told its quite good.

Most of the cast don’t have any listings other than this film. However we do have Troma Films alumni Traci Mann (TOXIC AVENGER PART 2, SGT KABUKIMAN), John Paul Fedele (THE MIST, FROM DUSK TIL DAWN),and Carl Burrows, who has an extensive IMDB listing including ONE LIFE TO LIVE, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, and TOXIC AVENGER 3.

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Writer/director Timothy O’Rawe has a very short listing, the most recent credit dating back to 1994. In addition to this film, he also directed a video called GHOUL SCHOOL. According to his IMDB, he may have a new project coming soon, recently optioned by One-Eyed_Dog Films.

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The writing on the vignettes is pretty good. Each one is a short morality tale, as was common with this sort of film. If you are a fan of the classic TALES FROM THE CRYPT or TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, this film delivers all the cheese and gore you crave. It’s a fun time capsule of 80s horror that is definitely worth a watch. And at a runtime of only 79 minutes, it won’t take up too much of your time. Just don’t watch it alone……

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One a scale of 1 to 10, ten being awesome (and for pure nostalgic reasons), I give this film 5 crypt keepers.

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