Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wicker Insane: Basket Case (1982)

Basket Case (1982)
starring: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith and Beverly Bonner

I love Frank Henenlotter's movies and I love how most of his topics involves bodily disfigurement and "weird biology". While it's not entirely new to the slasher genre to have disfigured killers, not with the likes of Jason Voorhees for starters, the Wrong Turn and Hill Have Eyes (remake) mutants and even the obscure Gunther from The Funhouse (1981), but it's not everyday that we see half a mongoloid going around in a rampage.

Duane Bradley, who looks normal and sweet, if not a little too quiet, is on a mission with his brother Belial, a removed conjoined twin who's savage, loud, largely resembling a hardened piece of oatmeal with a fanged face and some claws, and kept inside a large wicker basket. The two have a telepathic relationship with each other and their goal is to murder all the surgeons responsible for literally separating them from each other when they were young.

At first, it's all going to plan as one doctor to the next dies a loud, clawing death. Until, that is. Duane begins dating a nurse named Sharon in between the murders, much to Belial's jealousy. Feeling a bit abandoned, he takes out his anger on those who are dumb enough to open his basket, but with each unplanned killing Belial makes, Duane gets all the stress of cleaning it up, bringing the poor brother to a boiling point wherein he plans to leave Belial if things got too far. Unfortunately, the mongoloid torso isn't getting any of that and he's determined to keep Duane from abandoning him, even if it means killing him...

Basket Case is Henenlotter's first film, capturing a honest vision of New York's dark underbelly as a dirty, sleepy underside where anything can happen and the grittiest are can be found right around every corner. The movie is all about blood and sleaze within the vicinity of the concrete jungle, as most of the brother's attacks occurs in apartments, cinemas and hospitals (in broad daylight even!), capturing the claustrophobic horror that happens everyday.

Basket Case draws its focus on the two brothers: Belial's a disturbing creature to begin with as not only because the special effects had their creepy moments (cheap stop-motion never looked so...bizarre), but it's also because he's incredibly unstoppable despite his relatively small size. He can vertically stick to walls, move on his own accord despite not having any legs and, worst, he can actually tear people apart! On the other hand, Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck), is a gentler character compared to his brother. He's Belial's only connection to the world and he's very caring to his disfigured twin despite looking like...that. But, in the end, he's also the one who suffers the most as his longing to fit in with the rest of the world starts to get to him and he's getting desperate to escape "babysitting" Belial, something his ole brother doesn't like.

As a slasher, it outshines with its killings, all gored out as dozens of blood splatters every time Belial attacks a victim. He mauls them to death, rips them apart, tears out pieces, force them into objects (!), and even construct a death machine. Yes, this film delivers the violence, and even with it's silliness, it's a fine one at that.

A cult classic in the slasher-monster hybrid, Basket Case is a loud, gooey, and sleazy big city slasher with one of the most original villains to be showcased in exploitation history. Just goes to show that a rampaging torso can do much stalking and killing as any able-bodied maniacs can! It's a fun, weird (and at times, funny) film that's just ticking right close to being decent, if it wasn't for the cheesy special effects of the film. But fans of the weird horror would always find a heart to love this film, and so do true horror fans.

Hi, I'm Duane, and I dream of myself streaking the streets of New York...

1 male mauled to death
1 male mauled in half
1 male had his face clawed repeatedly
1 female dies from childbirth (mentioned in flashback)
1 male sawed in half by contraption (flashback)
1 elderly female passes away (flashback)
1 female forced face first into scalpels and got them sticked to her face
1 female had her neck crushed
Total: 8
(translated: All I wanted was to eat some brains...)

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