Back in 1973 a film called The Forgotten was shot and released in Texas. And it would have lived up to it’s title if American International pictures hadn’t been looking for films for it’s new offshoot Hallmark Releasing, intended for rougher, more exploitation orient films than they wanted to put the AIP name on. Retitled Don’t Look in the Basement this crude, bloody and effective tale of inmates taking over the asylum became a huge success and played the drive ins well into the 80s. Now, over forty years later, Tony Brownrigg, son of S.F. Brownrigg the director of the original has delivered a sequel. Was it worth the wait?
The film begins with two new arrivals at Greenpark, William Mathews, a doctor recruited from New York and Sam a patient with a past. He was the only survivor of the massacre of patients and staff at Stephens Sanitarium the story told in the original film. It’s not giving away anything the film’s own publicity doesn’t to say that Greenpark is his old home with a new name. And his arrival stirs up the unhappy spirits of those who died.
Unlike the original which was a tale of madness and carnage the sequel goes into supernatural territory. There is madness and carnage to be sure, but there are also ghosts and possession involved. And it works to keep things similar enough to the original that it’s not a sequel in name only, but different enough it’s not just a retread either. Indeed there are some very quietly creepy moments as the staff and patients take on the personalities of the dead and start acting as they would have. It’s quietly creepy when they do it in non violent ways, once all hell starts breaking loose it’s chilling.
One thing that immensely helps the film is that it was shot in the same building as the original which gives it a strong connection to the look and atmosphere of the original as well. There’s also a returning cast member, Camilla Carr although in a different role. The rest of the cast, although mostly unfamiliar are all good. The one recognizable face, Andrew Sensenig, from We are Still Here among other films is excellent as the new doctor.
It should be noted as well that while the film has it’s share of blood it is not a gore fest like it’s predecessor. There are a couple of particularly moist scenes though and the effects are very well done. No CGI blood here.
Don’t Look in the Basement 2 manages to avoid falling into the trap of being a weak rehash or cash in, something that would have been all to easy to do after so many years. Instead it’s a very well made and solid film that carries on from the original while still being it’s own film.