by Joshua Skye:
Don’t be fooled by the low rating, this is an entertaining and eccentric little DIY Super 8 from the 80’s that will satisfy any fan of such grungy cinematic treasures. To be sure, there will be many people, like myself, who actively seek out these things. We know they’re not award-winners, we just can’t help but dig ‘em, man!
At the height of the 80’s VHS boom, there were these obscure backyard epics (as I like to call them) thrown into the marketplace. They were much sought after video nasties, gory oddities made by horror fanboys for horror fanboys. Most of them were made with just your average camcorder, shot crudely on VHS. The more ambitious ones were filmed in Super 8. Some of the more well-known titles include the notorious “Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness” by indie maven Tim Ritter, and the legendary “The Dead Next Door” by motivated auteur J.R. Bookwalter. These movies defied the rules as well as the criticism. They were just plain fun, and that’s all they were ever meant to be.
“The Basement” is a “Lost Super 8 Feature Film” from the much lamented 80s by Timothy O’Rawe of “Ghoul School” fame. Its brought to us by the happy cannibal campers over at Camp Motion Pictures, the team that previously subjected us to the wizard of video gore Todd Sheets’ “Zombie Bloodbath” Trilogy on DVD in all of its crimson splashed glory. And what an admirable job they did. You can’t help but give them kudos for having the guts to bring us these things. Oh, and there are lots of guts to be flung around.
Packaged in a beautiful old school VHS Big Box (remember those?), along with four other DIY goodies (Captives, Video Violence 1 and 2, and Cannibal Campout). The three disc set is also accompanied by a blood red VHS of “The Basement” to complete the nostalgic effect. Its pure giddy amusement, and I have to confess that I couldn’t help but giggle delightedly when I snatched it form the shelf and hurried to the checkout lane. My dear friend Alyssa had thought I’d finally fell off into the deep end. Though she’s not a fan of this style of films, she found much to like in “The Basement.”
It’s an anthology in the “Tales from the Crypt” vein. A quartet of seedy sinners mysteriously gathers in a dirty old basement only to be confronted by The Sentinel. The shady demonic figure makes each conniving scumbag confront their future misdeeds, evils that include murder by swimming pool, affronting the very traditions of Halloween, feeding coke-head hookers to zombies, and succumbing to demonic homicidal urges.
It’s pure guilty pulp, the kind of movie you throw back a few with friends and just have a good time with. There’s nothing like adding your own drunken commentary track to these kinds of things, it’s practically what they were made for. Behold the garden-hose horror in “The Swimming Pool.” Prepare yourself for the Halloween take on Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic in “Trick or Treat,” where the monsters are pretty damn cool (especially the mummy). Have an absolute blast with “Zombie Movie.” And just keep rewinding “Home Sweet Home” until you finally see what the hell is going on.
It’s a Super 8 from the 80s, don’t expect much in the way of picture quality. Part of the nostalgia is found in all of the scratches and murky haze. The movie is completely dubbed, often quite well. The score works, and the sound effects are hysterical. Some of the stories are stupid but amusing, while others are clever and quirky. A lot of love went into this and you can certainly tell. That’s the DIY horror movies’ greatest appeal. Its pure schlocky fun and something fans will definitely want to seek out to enjoy.