Basket Case – The Trilogy (Blu-ray Review)
Rated: 18(UK)/Region O/Various/1080p/Number of Discs 3 (Each Movie to a Disc)
Available from Second Sight
Basket Case (1982)
Directed By: Frank Henenlotter
Starring: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner
Charming country bumpkin Duane Bradley takes a motel room in New York with no other luggage than a basket. In a flash back-series we learn it contains his surgically removed Siamese twin who is not only physically deformed so badly the doctors hesitated to consider him a human, but is also the vindictive drive of their trip, with the purpose to kill off all those he blames. But in the reception of one of those doctors, Duane gets his first ever date, with the receptionist, and wants to start a positive life too – when the freak twin escapes, the scene is set for a grim finale.
I don’t know if we can call Basket Case a timeless classic by any means, but this is certainly a movie that has everything a cult classic needs to be what the term “Cult classic” means. This what I’d call a simple but effective tale of two brothers, only it turns out to be a very twisted and fully tale of two brothers. Basket Case might not be my favorite horror movie of all-time, maybe not even close, but it is one of those movies that if it is one I’ll watch it. I think I might have liked it better as a kid than I do as an adult, but the nostalgia I have for it really makes me appreciate it just as strongly as ever. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that took advantage of the grand thing that was home video. We’d rent at times up to 4 or 5 videos per weekend. As soon as I was old enough to actually know what was being rented, I took notice to the large amount of horror films being shown in my house. Needless to say I’ve set through a ton of horror films in my childhood, many of which are nothing more than a blur to me now. Very few videos I saw would stick out to me. Basket Case sticks out. The movie itself focuses on Duane Bradley and his basket that he doesn’t seem to ever leave behind. As the movie moves along we see that in this basket is none other than Duane’s parasitic twin, Belia. Belia obviously is deformed to the point that not only does he seem to possess some type of odd power and control over his brother, he also is so small that he gets kept inside a basket! Gotta love the 80’s huh? In no time flat we figure out that the two brothers are holding a rather nasty grudge against three Doctors that the two have journeyed into New York City to seek out and take revenge upon. And might I add that the revenge is glorious when it is taken! The body count in this film comes in at a small number, but when it does start breaking down, the film more than makes up for the time we wait in between kills with large amounts of blood! This in between time I speak of is where the humor is tossed in and more times than not, it’ll get at least a chuckle out of you.
Things seem to be going as planned for Bradly Twins until as you should have guessed by now, a girl shows up that expresses interest in Duane. When this happens look out! Because the twins that use to be attached to one another now have something besides each other coming between them, and that is something Belia just isn’t going to stand for. This might be a horror film made in 1982 but the pace is just fine. The director uses pretty clever ways to keep you watching until the good stuff happens. Like for instance, half way into the movie we finally see a flashback to the origin of the twins. Little things like that I can appreciate, because back in the day (and sometimes now even) directors like to fill the gaps in between the action in horror films with useless dialogue and scenes that just slow everything down to a annoying slow pace. In Basket Case, things stay pretty enjoyable even if highly corny. Then again, it was the 80’s right? Basket Case comes to this Blu-ray set like the solo Blu-ray came in the states, in a 1:33 ratio. This is the natural ratio for the film and seeing as how this was 16mm, I think it looks pretty darn good all things considering. Heck, maybe way better than just good. It looks pretty damn awesome. Also awesome is the extras on this disc. We have a lot, but mainly it packs “What’s in the Basket” the full-length documentary about the Basket Case movies that you could probably toss on a disc alone and have no trouble selling. This disc alone mixed with the cover would warrant someone to buy this, but we also get the other two films as well.
– WHAT’S IN THE BASKET? – A look at the making of the trilogy with director Frank Henenlotter; actors Kevin VanHentenryck, Beverly Bonner, Annie Ross; producers Edgar Ievans and James Glickenbaus; make-up effects artists John Caglione Jr, Kevin Haney, Gabe Bartalos and writer Uncle Bob Martin
– INTERVIEW WITH GRAHAM HUMPHREYS – The legendary film poster artist discusses his career up to the creation of the new ‘Basket Case Trilogy’ artwork
– BASKET CASE: Video Introduction by Frank Henenlotter
– Audio Commentary by director Frank Henenlotter, producer Edgar Ievins and actress Beverly Bonner
– Outtakes & Behind The Scenes
– 2001 Video Short – The Hotel Broslin
– Trailers & Radio Spots
– Photo Gallery – behind the scenes, promotional material, stills
Quality of Transfer: 95%
Basket Case 2 (1990)
Directed By: Frank Henenlotter
Starring: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Judy Grafe, Annie Ross
Frank Henenlotter’s BASKET CASE 2 picks up right where the original BASKET CASE leaves off. After surviving the fall from their hotel room window, Duane Bradley and his misshapen, basket-dwelling brother Belial are taken to the city hospital. By now, their attempt at leading a secret life is blown, and the pair have become media darlings across the country. Meanwhile, Duane’s long-lost Aunt learns of their situation and, along with her pregnant daughter Susan, helps them escape from the confines of the hospital and the eye of the press. Duane and Belial’s aunt, known as Granny Ruth, takes them under her wing at her mansion, which serves as a safe haven for hideously deformed freaks of all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of this dynamic duo don’t remain secret for too long, and Duane and Belial team up with Susan, Granny Ruth, and her houseful of mutants to devise a plan to do away with the exploitative reporters once and for all.
In 1990, director Frank Henelotter finally delivered the sequel to his 1982 cult hit, Basket Case with Basket Case 2. While the film picks right up after the events of the original film, clever ideas are introduced into the story to make a film that kept the important stuff of the original but showcase some great new ideas. Keeping the creepy factor that would be in every Frank Henelotter film, but improving on the budget made for a very elaborate film this time around for many different reasons. What I think we end up with here is a film that actually tops the original for a number of reasons. I may be alone in that way of thinking, but that’s just my opinion. Being made in 1989 (released in 1990), Basket Case 2 was a sequel that while from a storyline point takes place right after the events of the first film, was actually made a whole seven years after the first movie was made. So, you may need to ignore the fact that Duane looks noticeably older and just go with it. The point of this film is a bit different than before. As both Duane and his mutated twin, Belial, are in love once this film hit’s it’s home stretch. So, while Duane might not have as much issues with his brother as he did in the first film breaking away and going off on his on with the woman he loves, he does find new troubles brewing from a nosy reporter, her friends, and a very shocking twist the end of the film packs. The movie improves upon just about every category from the original. The gore looks better, the props are much better (this includes Belial himself), and seeing to how the plot involves the brothers being in a house full of freaks, it really just makes for an effects and monster spectacle of sorts. Some of these characters look REALLY freaky as well as funny. This makes for a very cool movie if you are into this sort of stuff. There is some horror moments, but the movie is actually really funny and has some very comedic situations and moments that are at times subtle and other times not so subtle. Either way, if you are into rank Henenlotter’s movies, you should have no trouble what-so-ever having a blast with this.
I already briefly made reference to a twist that comes at the end of the film and it’s a very well crafted one. It comes just moments after one of the weirdest scenes you could see on film featuring the mutated Belial. When all of this comes together to form this one film, you have a film that is just soo strange and interesting that you can’t help but love it. It might not be up on a Frankenhooker level if we are to talk about all of the director’s films, but it doesn’t miss that level by much. It does top the original Basket Case and perhaps even Brain Damage (be it that one is a bit more debaitable in my mind). But, I guess I may need to re-watch that one before I go THAT far. Still, this is one hell of a awesome and weird movie. And it packs the perfect ending in my opinion. If you like weird horror movies, then Basket Case 2 would be the movie for you! It packs blood, mutants, and some some hilarious moments. The 1990s, especially the first part was hit and miss in horror, but at least Frank Henenlotter can rest a sure he was one of the more solid directors of the decade and I say that with what I think was just about three films (two really good). This one comes to us in a 1:77 format which allows it to be a widescreen transfer and I think it also brings the good in the details department. This is a movie with a lot of odd looking people and cool setting, some with nice colors to go along with it. All in all this movie is a joy to me and if you do enjoy part 1, then I can’t see how you’d have issue with part 2. The story wasn’t at all running thin here.
Quality of Transfer: 96%
Basket Case 3 (1991)
Directed By: Frank Henenlotter
Starring: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Annie Ross, Gil Roper
The saga of Times Square Freak Twins Duane and Belail Bradley takes its most bizarre twist yet. It all starts innocently enough when the Bradley boys join kindly doctor Granny Ruth and her family of unique individuals for a road trip through the deep South.. The occasion – Belail’s about to become a proud monster father – and no basket is big enough to hold this ungodly brood! But when a pair of warped sheriff’s deputies kidnaps Belai’s babies Granny Ruth and the family strike back. Belial single-handedly decimates the local police station with crazed, Terminator-like fury – and that’s just the beginning. Threatened with the loss of the newest additions to their family, Granny Ruth and the others concoct a delicious revenge against their enemies, climaxing in Belial’s futuristic one-on-one with the town Sheriff.
If you look within the Basket Case trilogy you will be hard pressed for whatever reason to find someone who speaks highly of the third film. While the movie does take more of a comedic route, much like the previous installment, I don’t find it a total waste at all. As a matter of fact I think I enjoyed this film much more than the average horror fan, but maybe that is because it plays more to my comedic taste. There are some subtle comedy moments in this film. And when that is mixed with the outrageous plot and characters I don’t think it is possible for me to get bored. The movie does the classic Basket Case thing of picking up where the last one left off for us, which I always like about horror films. If you watch the “What’s in the Basket” doc on disc one, you’ll see that even director Frank Henenlotter doesn’t like this one very much and sees it as a bit of a waste. I can see signs of the story being a bit thin, but the humor we get tossed into it does make it very watchable for me. I also can really appreciate the road trip aspects of it as well, which is at least something new to the format.
And while actual horror might be hard to find, we do have some gore. We have a police station massacre that comes to mind as a good way for us to soil our gore needing oats, even if some of the effects are apparently unfinished according to the director. Heads are twisted, faces are bitten off, and still I hear some complain of a lack of gore. Well, maybe the red stuff is light, but the actual effects side of things isn’t lacking at all. Plus, we also get all of our freaks from before back even with a few more cool looking ones in the mix as well. It isn’t anything pretty overall, but I still found it fun and a fitting way to end the story that really took this turn on the previous film. If you are a hardcore Henenlotter fan you will be happy overall with this one. This movie isn’t as horrible as some like to proclaim, but I can still see where some could have a few issues with it. Especially if we see how solid the other two are in comparison. The transfer here isn’t lacking, as it takes the same ratio as part 2 and looks near identical as far as the technical stuff goes. Kids come into the mix, we get a road trip, we get a little song here as well, but you probably never get bored even if you are a little let-down.
Quality of Transfer: 96%