BASKET CASE (1982)
Written and Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Available as part of Second Sight’s Basket Case Trilogy 3 disc set
A young man named Duane books into the seedy Hotel Broslin whilst in New York. Duane is keeping a secret from the world in a wicker hamper basket he carries everywhere – his deformed twin brother, Belial. The duo are determined to get their own back on the doctors who wrongfully separated them as Siamese twins and left Belial to die. Will that be enough for Belial to move on or will his connection with his brother prevent Duane from living a life of his own?
Frank Henenlotter’s BASKET CASE is everything you could want from a horror movie: a strange plot, grisly deaths and a disfigured torso of a sibling who lives in a basket! When you think of strange films, Basket Case certainly fits the bill but rather than being just random nonsense, the film is actually well thought out for a horror with its tragic backstory of the two brothers and Belial’s bloody rampage.
The main talking point of the movie is Belial and for good reason. Belial looks like a boglin which I had as a child except this particular creature has a raging appetite for burgers and a fearsome anger issue which usually results in the deaths of people around him. The parts where we see Belial in full view, i.e. not in the basket, writer/director Frank Henenlotter utilises stop-motion animation so Belial can freely shuffle around the floor and into his hiding places including the basket and the toilet. Thinking about it, it wouldn’t surprise me if boglins were actually inspired by Belial given that they too like the comfort a lavatory can bring.
Comedy is a fine element of BASKET CASE which adds to its charm and appeal with the Hotel Broslin’s greasy, vest-wearing, moustached owner constantly running up and down the stairs everytime he hears screaming or noise coming from or nearby Duane’s room. I bet my money he’s never had as much exercise nor trouble since Duane appeared on the scene with his basket. The reaction of the hotel owner and all the guests staying at the Broslin are hilarious, from the nosy neighbours to the concerned guests. One even has his eyes set on Duane’s impressive roll of bank notes that he seemingly keeps loose in his room. With so many people living around Duane, it’s only a matter of time before they come face to face with the terrifying Belial who seems to have a secret red panty sniffing fetish.
Despite Belial being the star of the show, long haired Duane makes for a likable lead who’s only trying to do right by his brother. Though they’re no longer attached, he cannot seem to live an independent life as Belial uses telepathy to speak to him, constantly nagging and keeping him awake at night, and needs Duane to carry him everywhere and to keep him out of sight from the outside world. Belial’s depedency on his brother has caused Duane to miss out on relationships so when he meets the attractive young receptionist at the doctor’s surgery, he’s determined to keep their dates a secret, frightened at what a jealous Belial might do should he find out.
Though the horror scenes are few and far between, there’s great fun and fear injected to the scenes with a rabid Belial clawing at his prey with his unstoppable grip. With rips and tears in his victims faces, Belial is one mean little mofo who you wouldn’t want to get up close and personal with especially as his taste for murder develops into a desire to rape. Sexually frustrated that Duane is getting some and he isn’t, Belial will make sure he has everything his brother has and more.
The Blu-Ray release of BASKET CASE from Second Sight, as part of their Basket Case trilogy, is outstanding. Of the many special features, my favourites have to be the feature length documentary on the film and a look at the locations were Basket Case was shot including a heated row with a guy who won’t let Henenlotter and co. enter the lobby of an apartment building that was used for the Hotel Broslin. For Basket Case fans and horror fanatics, there’s so many extras to drown in that will more than satisfy your curiousity and interest in the movie. With outtakes, trailers and commentary too, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. The transfer of the movie itself is in it’s original aspect ratio 4:3 format with black bars at the side, rather than stretched to fit the screen, with 2.0 audio. Overall it’s a damn fine release and certainly a must-have for any genre fan.
Insane horror on a budget with just the right amount of humour, BASKET CASE is one of a kind.