Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Misbehaving in The Basement

I sat down on the couch, suppressing a delighted squeal of joy. With hands slightly shaking, my eyes took in over the top zaniness depicted on the large cardboard packaging. I know that the painted poster cover is lying to my face. They all do. It’s a game and we’ve played it hundreds of times. I love the game. Elements of exciting horror depicted on the outer shell will be completely absent from the product about to unspool over silvered tape heads and onto my television. I don’t care, the lie is part of joy.

The enormous cardboard box is just a larger canvas to convince me to rent or purchase what is likely a crappy Z grade movie. As the glossy, colorful paper packaging gives way to my ravenous touch, I spy the prize inside. Measuring just about seven and a half inches long, with a width of just a hair over four, it’s most interesting feature is that it’s bright red where many of it’s kind only come in black. I can barely contain my self as I slot the plastic purveyor of joy into the VCR and listen for the characteristic sound of the heads engaging as the front flap swings closed. It’s show time.

The most interesting thing about my introduction above is that it isn't from my childhood (it isn’t). No, it happened this morning. I swear. Over the weekend, I attended Monster Mania Con 19 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. While perusing the vender tables, my vision was grabbed by the balls and diverted to the table for Alternative Cinema. They had the, as yet, unreleased The Basement. And when I say unreleased, I really mean it. Filmed in 1989 and put on a shelf for over 20 years, The Basement was restored and is about to be released on September 13th. It’s a Super 8 feature film from Tim O’Rawe of Ghoul School fame. With all of the wares on display, it would have been easy to pass this by, but I would have been a damned fool to do so. You see, this is a DVD and VHS release!

Inside the overlarge box is a tray. If you where to pick up and then pitch the DVD over your nerdy shoulder, you would behold a brand new, bright red, plastic wafer of the geek gods. I fired up my VIDEO HOME SYSTEM player, slotted the tape and was whisked back to the video rental days of my youth. I was a rainy day kid, on a mission to drink fully the dregs of the horror section.

There is something you must understand. There are levels of “bad” films; circular rings that descend downward to unimaginable horrors that many would feign to plumb. Your misunderstanding is that downward always equals worse; less worthy of viewership. It does not. As anyone who enjoys Boardinghouse or Troll 2 must understand, there are morsels of enjoyment to be had in most bad cinema, so long as heart is there, so long as desire is there.The Basement has that. It’s a Super 8 anthology collection, a poor man’s Tales from the Crypt or Creepshow, replete with a ghastly creature whose job it is to warn sinners that their monstrous actions to come will lead to their damnation. The tales are ghoulishly macabre and they revel in black humor, just as the 50’s EC comics, which they’re surely based on, did. At the end of 70 minutes, many questions where answered for me:

What happens to zombie film directors who say “Fuck you and Fuck George Romero”?
Bad things.
What happens to cheating wives who kill their husbands?
Bad things.
What happens to demon possessed murdereds?
Bad things.
Most interestingly: What happens to mean old bastards who refused to celebrate the spirit of Halloween?
Vacation to Disney? No! bad things, with delightful shades of Trick 'R' Treat.

You want the honest truth? I haven’t even taken the cellophane off of the DVD. I don’t know that I ever will. Then again, maybe I should. There's four more schlocky films to be spitted, cooked over flame and devoured.

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