With memorably gruesome scenes - such as the screaming woman with the scalpels stuck in her face - and some disturbing stop-motion animation, Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case is one of the most beloved, cheerfully demented cult classicks of all time.
So go ahead and open the basket... if you dare!
In the quiet town of Glens Falls, a very nervous Dr. Lifflander is suddenly attacked by....well... something.Something very small, misshapen, and very mad.Something with a swollen claw-like hand which rips the good doctor's face off.Basket Case is about a young man who was born with a Siamese twin attached to his side.At an early age, the monstrous twin was surgically removed, but lived to deeply resent his cut-off day.His normal looking brother goes to New York, carrying a large basket is the hideous twin.Neither brother can rest until they avenge their surgical separation by killing the doctors responsible.
"Quirky horror on no budget."
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Directed by low budget hero Frank Henenlotter, "Basket Case" relates the complicated tale of Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck). When we first meet up with Duane, he's acquiring lodgings at one of New York City's finer hotels-alright, it's really some rat hole where the dregs of humanity hang out when they aren't collecting unemployment or waiting for the liquor store to open. Duane wants a room so he can be closer to the three doctors who performed a special operation on him some years before. Despite the fact that the kid's got a huge wad of money and a wicker basket he totes around with him wherever he goes, the room he rents is barely big enough to lie down in. Soon after arriving at the Waldorf Astoria...err, I mean the rat hole, Duane heads out for food. He does this quite a bit, buying a huge package of hotdogs or a bag of hamburgers so he can dump them in the basket. Whatever's in there sure is hungry! Not to worry, though, as Duane is on friendly terms with the thing in the wicker bin.
Before heading out on his little mission, Duane acquaints himself with several of his neighbors and the patrician mannered desk clerk of his motel. He meets Casey (Beverly Bonner), a working gal with a ready smile and an endless stream of boyfriends. Duane also meets the loudmouth working the front desk, an obnoxious New Yawk type who bellows at the top of his lungs about the rules of the building. Forming relationships doesn't deter our hero from his special task, so very soon after arriving he strolls off to meet one of his former doctors. Only then, when Duane meets one of his old enemies face to face, do we truly learn about the contents of the basket. Meet Belial, Duane's worse half. When the doctors separated these Siamese twins, they tried to kill the lump of living flesh attached to our hero. A sympathetic associate of the family kept Belial alive, unfortunately, and now Duane and his bro are on a mission of destruction. His twin is nothing more than a cheesy looking lump of flesh with very sharp teeth, teeth he's willing to sink deeply into the necks of the three physicians who maimed him. There's an extended flashback sequence filling us in on the origins of Belial, and a subplot about a pretty receptionist who takes an interest in Duane, but the real meat of the movie is watching this weird looking puppet thingy rip and tear its way through an assortment of people.
Henenlotter's film is now largely considered a cult classic. The movie did so well that two sequels emerged in the 1990s. I haven't seen the successors, but rewatching the original was a lot of fun. Everything about this movie screams ultra low budget, from the atrocious acting skills of all the principal characters to the cheesy operation room where the medicos remove Belial. Actor Kevin Van Hentenryck couldn't act his way out of a wet paper bag, and his physical appearance is just downright weird. He's got this huge hair that reminds me a lot of an early Daniel Stern without any of the charm that that actor brought to the silver screen. Beverly Bonner isn't much better as the world wise Casey. I got the feeling she's supposed to be this super hot babe, and she really isn't. All of these people move against a backdrop that's so filthy I felt like taking a shower after the credits rolled. At least the gore works well enough, and it ought to considering most of the budget went towards buying buckets of fake blood. Still, "Basket Case" is amusing because it fails on so many levels. The central idea is a good one even if the execution falters.
I watched the Special Edition DVD of "Basket Case" from Image Entertainment. The disc sports a ton of extras, very few of which are worth watching. There's a commentary track with Frank Henenlotter, outtakes, galleries, a video short shot for the DVD release that shows the movie locations as they are today, a clip of Beverly Bonner's cable television show (?), and a few other goodies. The picture and audio transfer looks and sounds good for such a low budget movie. You'll need to add "Basket Case" to your "to see" list soon. I can't wait to see the two sequels on DVD in the future.
This is a great, low bugdet shlock horror/comedy from the early 80's. Read more