Movie Review: Basket Case is the Greatest Grindhouse Creature Feature Ever Made!

Small-town boy Duane Bradley arrives in the sleazy and deranged hell on Earth more commonly known as ’80’s New York City with a strange basket in tow. What bring’s him to the Big Apple you may ask? Just your simple lust for revenge against the shady doctors that surgically removed his horrendously deformed twin brother Belial from his side years previous in a traumatic operation. You can just guess what’s in the damn basket, can’t ya? Before long, both doctors and the tenants of the run down apartment building the the brother’s call home alike begin to fall to the teeth and talons of Belial, who in turn becomes even more enraged by the romance that begins to bloom between Duane and the comely receptionist of one of the doctors they murder. The body count escalates as the relationship between the brothers begins to crumble…

Basket Case is, in my opinion, the ultimate grindhouse creature feature; it’s sleazy (there’s that word again), violent, surreal, funny, and full of characters that seem like they just strolled in from an alternate dimension…not to mention the story that is a batshit combination of revenge picture and Shakespearean tragedy by way of EC Comics. As heady a concoction as that all is, the real thing that makes this flick soar above other’s of it’s ilk is the character of Belial; a snarling, screaming, glowing eyed tumor with teeth that is nothing but base instinct personified. He murders, maims, gorges himself, throws extreme temper tantrums, and lusts after women in a way that can scarcely be believed, and the design of the beast himself (created by Kevin Haney) is a truly unique creation that’s like has never been seen since! Also, on a personal note this film is one of the sacred fright flicks that led to me wanting to write my own films and act, so place your blame or kudos on it accordingly!

Along with the rad as fuck feature film, this release also contains a (rather large…okay, completely fuckin’ huge) basket full of goodies, beginning with an all new audio commentary with Writer/Director Frank Henenlotter and Actor Kevin Van Hentenryck. the conversation, dominated by Henenlotter is hilarious, self-effacing, and absolutely jam packed with tales of the film’s production. If this were the only feature included, I would be totally satisfied…but it isn’t by a long looong shot. Also included are an archival commentary featuring the cast and crew ported over from the previous DVD/Blu-ray releases of the film from Something Weird (this is a fun listen as well, though some anecdotes are repeated), an interview with Duane Bradley (yup, you read that right…and it’s a fun lil’ piece that actually updates us on what happened to the characters after the end of the third Basket Case film), an interview with Van Hentenryck, a ridiculous interview with “Henenlotter” (in actuality a fully nude dude that looks nothing like the Director), an interview with Florence and Maryellen Schultz (the actresses that portray the twin nurses in the film), and an interview with Actress Beverly Bonner. Following that we get a featurette about the folks of Latvian decent that worked on the film (including interviews with Producer Edgar Levins, Casting Person/Actress Ilze Balodis, Associate Producer/Special Effects Artist Ugis Nigals, and Belial performer Kika Nigals), and interview with film critic (and early champion of the film…not to mention a huge reason I do what I do) Joe Bob Briggs, a Q&A from the MoMA premier of the restoration (would it ever be possible to have one of these things professionally shot…I mean this thing looks like it was lensed by someone that smuggled a camera in within the confines of their pants, opened their fly, and let their nuts handle the cinematography). Next is my favorite special feature on the disc, a feature length documentary that covers all three films in the series! It’s an informative, anecdote packed look at the Basket Case franchise that is a can’t miss for fans of these frenzied fright flicks. Following that we get an archival featurette (also ported from the Something Weird release) where Henenlotter and R.A. The Rugged Man tour New York City looking for the remaining locations from the film, outtakes, a video essay by Travis Crawford concerning both the film and freaks in cinema, an image gallery, trailers, a TV spot, radio spots, a short made by Henenlotter titled Slash of the Knife concerning the horrors of those that are uncircumcised, and featuring much of the cast of good ol’ Case (and also featuring it’s own set of special features including a commentary track, outtakes, and an image gallery)…it’s a pitch perfect throwback to the poverty row juvenile delinquent films of the late 1950’s (not to mention the maestro Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda) and a real hoot to behold! Lastly you get Belial’s Dream; an absolutely astonishing stop-motion animated short (with accompanying “making of” featurette) by genius film maker Robert Morgan…this piece is perverse, grotesque, and completely surreal, and I love the living shit out of it!!

As evident from the walls of purple prose above, this is the ultimate release of Basket Case; every beautifully lurid, blood drenched frame is presented in it’s beautifully beastly glory. and the amount of bonus material contained is absolutely staggering…just buy the damn thing already, will ya?!!



, , , , , , ,