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BASKET CASE [BLU-RAY]
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Frank Henenlotter

Starring:
Kevin Van Hentenryck
Terri Susan Smith
Beverly Bonner

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Duane Bradley carries a mysterious basket around with his disfigured and mentally deranged Siamese brother Belial inside of it. The two of them are visiting New York for one reason: hunt down and kill the doctors who separated them as children thus "ruining" their lives.
Is it good movie?
The movies released in 1982 were rather quite epic. Not only did we get the blockbuster extravaganza of E.T.: THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL, but we also got the equally awesome (if not far more superior) POLTERGIEST and John Carpenterís THE THING. And along with the big-budget sci-fi / horror flicks of the day came another little movie, a movie that made a significantly smaller splash upon its release but has, over the years, spawned quite the cult following and even love in the hearts of horror fans everywhere. The film? BASKET CASE. And like all films of such epic proportions, BASKET CASE is now available in glorious HD, butÖ is it worth the price? We aim to find out.

BASKET CASE is a text book example of what it means to be a cult classic. Made on a budget that probably couldnít buy a bag of groceries at the store, the film is dark, itís gritty, itís rather quite bizarre, but it features grotesque gore effects, a creepy atmosphere, a solid score, and one freaky character that people tend to gravitate toward for some crazy reason or another. Throw in some boob action, more redder-than-red blood splatter, and the unrelenting screams of a sideshow freak, and you pretty much have BASKET CASE in a nutshell. For some, all that will be enough. For others, wellÖ letís just say itís definitely not everyoneís cup of tea.

Some may have issues with the shoddy camera work or, worse yet, the atrocious acting performances byÖ just about everyone in the movie. Seriously, itís as if they picked random people walking down the street to be in it cause I canít see an ounce of acting talent anywhere, except for maybe the mustached cop, and that may be because I was blinded by his classic-cop mustache look. Shot on 16mm, the HD version presents the film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, thus preserving the way it was meant to be seen, and not throw some faux widescreen lens. One of the appeals of BASKET CASE is the gritty, low budget look and feel, which adds to the whole creepy vibe the film has going for. Yes, in BASKET CASEís, er, case, the shitty production values have actually contributed to the unsettling look and feel of the flick and why a lot of people really like it.

For those worrying about that schlocky grittiness getting the boot with the HD transfer, you donít have to: while it is presented in 1080p, it still holds onto that grindhouse look, without feeling too crisp or clean. Yes, it looks better than it ever has, butÖ you canít shine a turd like this and make everyone forget that itís a turd. Itís a turd at heart and that shines through the HD remasteringóand you know what, thatís a good thing! Retaining that bottom-of-the-barrel feel adds to the whole enjoyment level of the flick and taking that away would have been a disservice to the film and the fans alike.

Whatís really great about BASKET CASE is, of course, the severed Siamese twin freak in the basket, Belial. Essentially a head with mutant hands, muscle, flesh, and bone rolled up into a ball of twisted cartilage and nastiness, thereís something about Belial that you simply canít get enough of. And fake, holy hell does Belial look like a puppet here, not to mention the really awesome/awful stop-motion animation sequences of him walking around and f*cking shit up, but you know what? It works. In the confines of BASKET CASE, the twisted little puppet of Belial works exceptionally well and contributes to why BASKET CASE is awesome in the first place.

Combine the awful special effects, the vibrantly red blood and the horrific screaming coming out of Belialís deformed little body with the gritty low budget look and feel, and you have yourself one fun ride down cult classic memory lane, complete with laughably bad acting and the gratuitous boob shot. In other words, itís hard to find a movie that provides more fun times than BASKET CASE.

Video / Audio
Video: Presented in the film's original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, BASKET CASE looks about as tip-top as it was ever meant to look. 1080p HD and all that, but still manages to keep that grimy, gritty, BASKET CASE look and feel.

Audio: Like the aspect ratio, the film's original 2.0 mono audio soundtrack is what we have to work with here. A solid 5.1 mix would have been a lot cooler, especially so it could match it's stellar HD video transfer, but we can't have everything, can we?

The Extras
New Intro by Director Frank Henenlotter: Henenlotter clears up any questions you might have as to why they tried to release BASKET CASE in HD, why it has a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and why it looks like it did when he shot it.

Commentary by the director, producer, and actress Beverly Bonner: Everything you wanted to know and more about the making of the film, straight from the people who were there! Interesting commentary to say the least, and a must for die hard BASKET CASE fans.

Outtakes: a 6 minute montage of outtakes from the flick, with most of the cast making funny faces at the camera or standing around waiting to shoot a scene or two. No sound save for a 1970s soundtrack, and a number of special effects gags that went wrong. It's more cool for the behind the scenes aspect than any of the actual "outtakes" themselves, and for the random "hang a spider by a chick's boob" gag that shows up near the end. Yikes!

2001 Video Short: In Search of Hotel Broslin: have you ever wanted to see where the hotel scenes of BASKET CASE were shot, or know where you can visit the infamous "Hotel Broslin"? This little documentary follows Henenlotter and R.A. the Rugged Man (WTF?) around on a "walking tour" of the shooting locations of BASKET CASE some 20 years after the film was made, resulting in a fun little documentary that's worth a watch.

Gallery of BASKET CASE Exploitation Art and Behind-the-Scene Photos: a gallery of photos and art from the film set to the film's theatrical score. My biggest issue with this is that you can't control the pace of the images. Which is lame.

Two BASKET CASE radio spots and theatrical trailers: a glimpse at how the film was marketed way back when upon its initial release.

Last Call
BASKET CASE is what low-budget cult classics from the early 1980s are all about: gruesome special effects, a bizarre string of events, amateur camera work, horrible acting, and real gritty look and feel. The Blu-ray does the film justice without making it look too good and spiffy, but giving fans of BASKET CASE something to be proud of sitting in their Blu-ray collection.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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