Review: The Basement: Retro 80's Horror Collection (DVD/VHS)

Camp Motion Pictures unleashes an epic trove of horror trash onto DVD & VHS with the Retro 80's Horror Collection, which includes

  • Director: Tim O'Rawe / Gary Cohen / Tom Fisher & Jon McBride
  • Starring: Dennis Driscoll, Kathleen Heidinger, David Webber, etc.
  • Year: 1987 / 1988 / 1989
  • Runtime: 548 Minutes
  • Company: Camp Motion Pictures
  • Format: DVD / VHS
  • Discs: DVD: 1 / VHS: 1
  • Video: 1:33:1 - 4:3 - Full Frame
  • Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono
  • Region: 0 - NTSC
  • Released: 9/13/2011

  • The Basement
Four asshole adults find themselves lost and wandering around, if you couldn't guess from the title, a basement. They stop when a ghoulish crypt-figure dubbed the "Sentinel" emerges and demands they confess their sins. Sins not of the past, but of the future. The Sentinel shows each individual what they will do later in their lives to deserve their present punishment. An anthology of low budget, gore filled greatness ensues!
Swimming Pool is the first tale up and deals with a bitchy woman of the previously mentioned adults, inviting people she loathes over to be essentially eaten by her pool. Yes, a killer swimming pool. Killer air pressured bubbles to be more precise since that's all we see when it consumes unsuspecting swimmers. Said bitchy woman is an atrocious actress (the entire cast actually)  and definitely a broad of the 80's with her raggedy metal hair. When the idiots meet their watery end you'll be laughing and cheering along. It sets the tone right away for what's to come and I loved every minute of it.
The second tale of the anthology is Trick or Treat, my absolute favorite of the bunch. It deals with a grumpy middle aged man (his name escapes me, like all of the others) who hates Halloween with a passion. After daydreaming of slaughtering his classroom students (it's beautiful), the Scrooge of October 31st goes home to sulk the night away. Thing start to get hilariously creepy as the man get's a supernatural visit from his dead wife. Mind you his wife is a puppet that looks like a cross between ET & shit. She warns him that if he doesn't stop his hateful ways, bad things are in store. Of course he doesn't heed the warning, what fun would this be if he listened? This segment must have been the filmmakers favorite to shoot, considering the amount of practical effects and gore that fill it. It's a love letter to All Hallows eve and will definitely become a staple in my Halloween movie marathon.
Next up is the aptly titled, Zombie Movie. A dickhead director (who has a "Fuck You" attitude towards George Romero) trying to shoot an indie film centered around the living dead, ends up resurrecting the real dead bent on tearing him to shreds. This tale is obviously a jab against directors who churn out horror films solely for the paycheck, something that is more apparent now than in the golden 80's. Blood, guts and ladies with no bra's are on full display. That's all you need to get my attention!
The last vision from the "Sentinel" deals with the youngest of the group from the basement. Home Sweet Home sees the young guy purchase a house that has a grim history filled with rape, torture and murder. Naturally he has no problem with this, live fast die young! His buddy randomly appears and both begin to sip on grandpa's old cough medicine to break in the house. Things start to get fuzzy (literally, this segment is pitch black) when demons and other crazy shit show up to welcome him home. I'd say this is my least favorite of the four but by no means is it not entertaining.
I couldn't have imagined how much I would adore The Basement. It's a film made by horror fans for horror fans. It's sad that this gem is just now being unearthed from the rough but better late than never. For me it's an instant favorite and something I will be revisiting often as the years go on. Seek this out and spread the word, you won't be sorry!

  • Cannibal Campout
Four college friends hit the road for a weekend of camping in a secluded forest. They hit a roadblock when a stopped car prevents them from advancing ahead to their camp spot. After honking several times, two backwoods hicks (a Deliverance reference is made) emerge from the car and begin taunting the group. A spew of "Fuck You's" leads to one of the hillbilly's drawing a knife for a slice of flesh. The friends escape and shrug the whole ordeal off and prepare for a fun time. Little do they know said hicks live in the woods and are hungry. Hungry for camper meat!
Cannibal Campout has the honor of being extremely enjoyable with what little it offers. By that I mean not a lot happens. There is a lot of running and walking. A lot. Scenery shots in particular are abundant, trying to create an atmosphere. A forest in the daytime just isn't creepy. Besides all that, when the gut munching gore begins it's a total blast. The do-it-yourself FX are damn impressive and will leave you smiling each time the blood flows. 
There's nothing quite like watching a shot-on-video horror flick. Besides the obvious drastic look compared to film, they tend to have a bizarre surreal quality to them unlike anything you've ever seen. The z-grade budget is naturally an accomplice to the overall mind bending feel that smacks you in the face. You have to convince yourself to abandon all rational thought and let your brain soak in the video acid.
I'd say Cannibal Campout is required viewing for any horror/shit cinema enthusiast. It's ambitiously outrageous and has to be to stand out amongst the endless annals of bizarro oddities. Cannibals, gore, slapstick and tits all shot on video. What's not to love?

  • Captives aka Mamas Home
Captives aka Mama's Home is absolutely not what I was expecting, leaving me surprisingly perplexed. Looking at the cover art makes you feel like you're in for a murderous mother romp. It's not that at all. Not one bit. Instead of a cheap gore fest (nothing wrong with that ladies and gentlemen) we're introduced to one of the most serious/complex shot-on-video films I've ever seen. Take that as you want to.
To get the gist of the film short and sweetly, it's essentially a home invasion/revenge outing. A family is taken...ahem, captive, by a gang of crazy characters. One dykish lady who has a secret connection to said hostage family. Along for the ride is her psycho man-dude and a mentally challenged obese fella who screams "baby bumpers" at one point. 
I don't want to sound like I'm over-hyping this film. I know the above summarized plot doesn't exactly make you want to cease what you're doing to watch this immediately. If this were to be compared to a real film, it'd automatically be dismissed. This is a SOV film, a breed all in it's own. Captives is a hybrid SOV, if you will. Beneath it's analog roots there is somewhat of an actual story that demands your attention. Blood and guts are not the selling point. A milestone in shot on video entertainment.

  • Video Violence & Video Violence II
I'll review this and it's sequel in depth at a later date. They truly deserve an in-depth analysis.

  • Video
All films of course are presented in Full Frame 4x3. The Basement was shot on Super 8 and it definitely shows, particularly in night time scenes. Cannibal Campout, Captives and the Video Violence duolgy are all shot-on-video so don't expect phenomenal quality. But you wouldn't anyways! These films were never meant to look pretty. SOV flicks are anti-shiny, that's a detrimental factor in their charm. Cannibal Campout is the least attractive out of the bunch however. Gary Cohen helmed flicks Captives and Video Violence 1 & 2 actually look pretty decent. I'm not sure if any restoration went into these but overall I'm pleased with the results and you should be too. Their uncut and that's all that matters. Let the analog sickness wash over you.
  • Audio
The Basement had to be re-dubbed and it's absolutely hilarious. The dialogue tends to be louder than anything else and overacted, leading to some great moments. The rest of the films have that noisy, auditorium sound to it which is expected. The exploits of the flicks will consume your brains attention, sound quality is a mere luxury!

Bonus Features
  • Big Box Packaging
This glorious package is housed in non other than an illustrious Big Box. It's cardboard sexiness looks amazing on the shelf and will fit in nicely with your yesteryear collection. I hope other video companies take notice and consider releasing Big Box edition's of their films as well.
  • VHS Copy
Yes, you read the correctly. You get a glorious, red colored VHS tape of The Basement snuggled in a tray that resides in the Big Box. This is truly the icing on the VCR, er, I mean cake. It really makes you feel like VHS never went away. VIVA LA VHS!
  • Audio Commentary - The Basement Cinematographer Michael Raso & John Fidelli
  • Outtakes - The Basement
  • Short Film - Say No To Drugs
  • Short Film - Vengeance
  • Featurette - The Basement News Coverage
  • Featurette - Meadowlands Showcase Segment
  • Audio Commentary -Cannibal Campout Director Jon McBride and Moderator Mark Pelonia
  • Audio Commentary - Captives Director & Crew
  • Audio Commentary - Video Violence Director & Crew
  • Audio Commentary - Video Violence II Director & Crew
  • Interview - Video Violence/Captives Director Gary Cohen
  • Trailers