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Preview Image for Basket Case: 20th Anniversary Special Edition (US)
Basket Case: 20th Anniversary Special Edition (US) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000046834
Added by: David Beckett
Added on: 19/12/2007 13:15
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    Review of Basket Case: 20th Anniversary Special Edition

    7 / 10


    The 1980s was an interesting decade for horror films. It arguably did not produce the classics that the 1970s did, such as `The Exorcist`, `Dawn of the Dead` or `The Texas Chain Saw Massacre`. The phenomena of Betamax and VHS home video technology opened up horror movies to a wider audience, with a rash of films, some of which would later be termed `Video Nasties`. Aside from the stalker/slasher films that began in the late `70s with `Halloween` and `Black Christmas`, the sub-genre of low budget horror comedies emerged. Sam Raimi blended horror and `Looney Tunes` cartoon-style violence in `Evil Dead II`, Stuart Gordon brought his own interpretation of H. P. Lovecraft`s gothic tale in `Re-Animator` and Frank Henenlotter gave us `Basket Case`.

    Duane Bradley (Kevin VanHentenryck) is a shy and socially inept young man who has travelled from the country to New York City carrying with him a wicker basket which contains Belial, his deformed brother. Born as `Siamese` (conjoined) twins, Belial was removed from Duane when he was a child and thrown out into the trash to die. Unhappy about the way he was treated, Belial convinces Duane to help him exact bloody revenge against the medical personnel who separated them and his father, who ordered the operation.

    Duane starts an awkward relationship with Sharon, the receptionist to one of the doctors that he and Belial visit. This only infuriates Belial further, as he feels abandoned and jealous, leading to an escalation in his violent and unpredictable behaviour.

    Made on a tiny budget and with an inexperienced cast and crew, `Basket Case` has become a cult favourite.


    Shot on low budget 16mm stock, `Basket Case` was never going to be the most visually spectacular film ever made, but it has been given an excellent treatment with a sharp transfer. The contrast is good and the colours are bright. Frank Henenlotter remarks on the commentary that it`s the best he`s seen the film look since the original 16mm print.


    The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is good, with clear dialogue and `jumps`, but there is some slight background hiss and occasional sound distortion.


    Audio Commentary by Director Frank Henenlotter, Producer Edgar Ievins, and Actress Beverly Bonner - this is one of those rare commentaries that manages to be entertaining and enlightening, covering such topics as filming without a permit, creating Belial and the problem of falling down stairs wearing a wig.

    The two Theatrical Trailers and the TV Spot show how the film was marketed.

    One-of-a-Kind Outtakes and Behind-the-Scenes Footage from the Director`s Personal Collection - funny and interesting, a nice addition to the features.

    In the `In Search of the Hotel Broslin` featurettes, Frank Henenlotter and someone called (and I`m not kidding) R.A. Rugged Man, walk around New York principally looking for the fictitious hotel, but visiting filming locations and talking to friends.

    The Gallery of Basket Case Exploitation Art and Never-Before-Seen Behind-The-Scenes Photos is a self-playing collection of stills from filming and posters from around the world.

    Like the trailers and TV Spot, the Two Rare Basket Case Radio-Spots show how the film was marketed on radio.

    There are two Radio Interviews with Actress Terri Susan Smith in which she answers questions and dares people to go and watch `Basket Case`.

    The clips from Beverly Bonner`s Comedy Cable TV Show, "Beverly Bonner`s Laugh Track", aren`t particularly funny and show why she`s not a household name.


    Kevin Van Hentenryck (credited as Kevin VanHentenryck) made his film debut here as the gangly, child-like Duane, a role he would reprise in both sequels and as a cameo in Frank Henenlotter`s `Brain Damage`. Practically revelling in its sleaziness and gore, `Basket Case` never attempts to take itself seriously and provides decent laughs with enough blood and violence to check the `horror` box.

    `Basket Case` is a type of film that you either love or don`t get. The dialogue is poor, the acting amateurish and the laughable puppetry and stop-motion animation that was used to create Belial will either turn viewers away, or endear them to the film. I love these `so bad they`re good` type of films and, judging by the sequels and DVD special editions of `Basket Case`, I`m clearly not alone.

    If you like cheap 1980s schlock horror comedies and haven`t seen `Basket Case`, or any of Henenlotter`s films, then I urge you to do so. If you enjoy it, I heartily recommend the sequels as well as `Brain Damage` and `Frankenhooker`. This is the best DVD of the film available, with far better picture, sound and extra features than any other.

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