BASKET CASE TRILOGY
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Kevin Van Hentenryck
Terri Susan Smith
What's it about
Finally, all your BASKET CASE needs in one complete set. Never be without a murderous conjoined twin again!
Is it good movie?
The BASKET CASE films concern Duane Bradley and his brother, Belial, Siamese twins separated, against their will, at the age of twelve. Duane is normal in appearance and function (well, mostly), whereas Belial, as the name indicates, is not. In fact, he is a deformed, twisted ball of flesh and bone with an all too expressive face taking up half of his body and two powerhouse arms. All the better to kill you with. Oh yes, it wouldn’t be AITH-worthy unless he was full of murderous rage and nearly devoid of conscience.
Given that description, and the shoestring budget of the first film and all the shortcomings that brings, it would be easy to write off the BASKET CASE as exploitive at best, and farcical at worst. But that condemnation would be to not give this classic, tragic tale its due. Belial and Duane are flipsides of the same genetic coin, each wanting love and acceptance, and neither being able to find it. Belial because the world at large, including his own father, considers him to be a monster, not even of human origin, and Duane because he honestly loves his brother and refuses to abandon him to fate. Even when he savagely kills people. I was honestly saddened and disturbed by Belial’s plight, and grieved for both of men to whom life was less than kind.
For anyone who thinks that 8 years and a larger budget later would impact the oddness of the BASKET CASE series, put those fears to bed: part 2 is a magnitude of order stranger than the original. In it we find Duane and Belial surviving the events of the previous film, and taken in by the enigmatic Grandma Ruth. She and her granddaughter, Susan, run a house full of “unique individuals.” And by unique individuals I mean campy, bizarre, excessively strange creatures. There’s a frogman, a guy with 27 noses, even a guy with a crescent moon for a face. This film looks slicker than the original, and has better acting and SFX, but still retains the heart of the story: the desire for acceptance, and what it means to be “normal.” There are still murders, to be sure, but the creepiest moment in the whole film is when Belial laughs at Duane for being in love. Belial laughing. *shudder*
Alas, Henenlotter could not hit the trifecta, and BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY, is largely a pile of crap. Much like part 2, the events follow directly from its predecessor, even to the point of having its opening scene lifted directly from the end of 2. Unfortunately, that is where the similarity ends. PROGENY is far broader in its comedy, to the point of becoming the farce that part 1 so deftly avoided. As the name implies, this film has Belial becoming a father, and the unique individuals take to the road, to visit a country doctor whom Grandma Ruth trusts. There they run afoul of the cops, and it’s time for Belial to do his face-ripping thing. It also gives Duane more screen-time and a wider character arc, but like the rest of the film it is forced and hammy. There are some decent kills towards the end, but it’s too little, too late. If you have any love for the first two films, this one is easily avoidable.
Video / Audio
Video: These are screeners, so I don't have stats, but the films look really good. Part 2 is the best of the bunch, but considering the age and shooting formats of the original, the cleanup job is pretty amazing.
Audio: Again, screener, so no stats. The audio quality is good on all discs, and there are no subtitles available.
Commentary with writer/director Frank Henenlotter, producer Edgar Ivens, actress Beverly Bonner, and Scooter McCrae (PA on Part 2): This commentary starts off running, with Henenlotter dominating, but everyone else throwing in to make for an informative, chaotic, and really fun commentary.
Introduction: This is a quick intro by Henenlotter. He refers to this new print being “HD” which technically it is not. He talks a bit about aspect ratios, though, if you’re into that sort of thing.
In Search of The Hotel Broslin: This is a 15-minute walking tour of the locations used for the hotel in the first film.
Outtakes: Always my favorite part of any special features set, here are some bloopers. They’re all without sound, so there is a funny porno soundtrack instead.
Trailers: There are two theatrical trailers, as well as a collection of radio spots.
Photo Galleries: Rounding out the special features are a collection of photo galleries: BTS, Promotional Materials, and a Stills collection.
What’s In The Basket?: This is a pretty comprehensive 90-minute documentary on the origin and timeline of the BASKET CASE films. It covers every aspect. And I do mean every aspect. From inception, to execution, to distribution. There’s lots of great BTS footage, and a ton of interviews. Henenlotter is gregarious and funny and quite acidic, and Kevin van Hentenryck has the most epic mop of grey hair these days. It even has a little “where are they now” bit at the end.
Grisly Graham Humphreys: This is a 20-minute interview with an artist who has worked on promotional artwork for many horror films, obviously including the BASKET CASE films. He’s English, and I like the way he says “belly-al.”
None. Which is just fine.
The three BASKET CASE films vary in quality, both mechanically and story-wise, but this set is definitely worth picking up. The remastered films look as good as they ever have, and there won’t be a thing you don’t know about them after watching the raft of special features. And if you don’t want to watch a series of films about an angry lump of flesh stalking around on giant arms ripping peoples’ faces off, then I just don’t know what else to say to you.