Morbidly Beautiful

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A slow and plodding character study, it makes little attempt at cohesion or storytelling and simply hopes some blood will do the trick.

Patients take control of a secluded mental institution as a new nurse comes on following the murder of the facility’s doctor. Let’s dig into 1973’s DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT, directed by S.F. Brownrigg!

As I See It

Also known as The Forgotten and Death Ward 13, the title, which sounds similar to a Goosebumps book (“Stay out of the basement”), makes as much sense as the film itself.

I don’t want to be too harsh on something that was obviously a labor of love. On paper, the premise is intriguing and ripe for great scenes of terror and doom. Unfortunately, none of that makes it on screen.

The poster for the film utilizes the Last House on the Left gag: “To avoid fainting, keep repeating, it’s only a movie… only a movie… only a movie…”. The difference is LHOTL is terrifying. And though I’ve never personally cared for LHOTL, I was expecting some of that raw, seventies brutality here.

There were a couple of scenes with pure rage guiding that hand that kills (especially the finale), but there is such a lull to the action that it’s hard to feel as squeamish as I did after watching the Craven film.

The concept has promise, but the bread is buttered by the idiosyncrasies of the characters, specifically the patients. The more I think about it, the more I believe Scorsese or Dennis Lehane saw this film along the way to making Shutter Island.

Famous Faces

Jessie Lee Fulton (Jane) was in the Steven Spielberg film The Sugarland Express.

Gene Ross (Judge) played a cop in Friday the 13th – The Final Chapter, a bit role in The Goonies, Earl in Halloween 4, and the Warden in David Lynch’s Lost Highway.

Rosie Holotik (Charlotte) starred in the schlocky Horror High.

Of Gratuitous Nature

For a movie with very little substance, there are a couple of brutal and bloody kill scenes.


Rosie Holotik (Nurse Charlotte) is a stark contrast to the rest of the cast and scenery. A beautiful, tormented redhead.

Ripe for a Remake

It would probably feel too much like Shutter Island, which to me felt too much like other films I had already seen when it came out. There is nothing new under the sun.


I would have felt safe not doing any research into whether there was a follow-up film. I would have bet money that there was no chance of this turning into a franchise. I would have lost. A sequel was written and directed by Brownrigg’s son Tony in 2015.

Where to Watch

VCI Entertainment released a Blu-Ray and DVD. You can stream it on Amazon Prime, Tubi, Paramount +, Screambox, Pluto TV, Night Flight, Shout TV, Amazon’s Freevee, and many other streaming services.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 1

The Daily Dig brings you hidden genre gems from the 1960s-90s you may have not yet discovered. You’ll get a brief rundown of everything you need to know, including where to watch each title for yourself. Come back each day, Mon-Fri, for new featured titles. CLICK HERE FOR A TIMELINE OF DAILY DIG COVERAGE.

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