Monday, March 24, 2014

Granny Ruth's Freak-A-Porium: Basket Case 2 (1990) and 3: The Progeny (1991) Double Bill Review

Not sure if it was smart to franchise a movie seven to eight years later since its release but you'll never know if some people will still remember a screaming and mauling torso that is Belial. Frank Henenlotter, the mad mind behind the original Basket Case (and Frankenhooker. And Brain Damage (1988)) weaves up a weirder follow-up to his gritty little creature/slasher hybrid, upscaling it to the point of sheer strangeness and comical proportions.

Basket Case 2 (1990)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Judy Grafe, Annie Ross

Continuing straight from where Basket Case (1982) had ended, Duane and his surgically removed, homicidal Siamese twin Belial somehow survived their fatal fall and is now taken in to a hospital to recover. However, Belial recovers quickly and telepathically controls his unconscious brother into sneaking them out only to be rescued by a strange matriarch named Granny Ruth and her granddaughter.

Turns out Mrs. Ruth runs a home for freaks like Belial and she's more than interested in taking care of the twins, giving them a place where they will feel welcome and even loved.

For Belial's case, love seems to had wormed its way somehow to him when he finds a "beautiful" freak just like him. When Duane came around, he's a little uneasy with this new development to his already strange life but nonetheless decided to stick around fir the mean time when he falls in love with Ruth's granddaughter and when he, along with Ruth and the rest of the freaks, found out someone is snooping around to uncover them.

Granny soon plots to take revenge on those who tries to exploit the freaks' existence and she will sic Belial at them with a mauling fury.

You would think that a slasher movie made back in the 80s that exploited the concrete jungle with blood and violence would fare better, but Basket Case 2 took the franchise to an entirely different direction; while the first film did had its fair amount of cheese, it still had that dark exploitation feel that's gritty and downright disturbing at times. It had a serious side but this sequel decided to throw it out and replaced it with a more cartoonish and comical tone as deranged characters, exaggerated deformities and silly development that turn a promising and fairly original slasher into a black comedy with gore and bodycount.

Majority of the movie focuses on the brother's plight after their exposure to the outside world. They became an instant celebrity over the media as their notorious killing spree began to take effect on them differently; Duane wishes to leave and start his life anew away as somebody "normal" while Belial wishes to stay and be with his new family. The story tries to move further into the matter but the eccentric tone really kept it from going anywhere. More or less, "colorful" deformities these freaks have is a clear indication that we're no longer watching a real horror film until the last half hour where people started to get killed.

I may sound disappointed, probably am, but I will give Basket Case 2 this: it's still crazy fun. As a follow-up to a gory and offbeat horror movie, it fails, but as a deranged abnormality that tries to be fun as it is silly, it kinda works. The acting is a lot better (save for Kevin Van Hentenryck. Might just be his character, though. For a guy who's getting tired of living with a bunch of freaks he sure acts like one) and the effects are eye candy especially if it meant a better looking Belial, a house full of freaks and one strange scene that involves two torsos humping each other's sides. (not sure myself how that works, too) The murder scenes are kinda tame but a few of them are quite memorable.

Stranger than before, horror is almost lost in this unnecessary follow-up and it makes you wonder why exactly this exists. And yet here it is, Basket Case 2, entertaining you in an entirely different way while still being messy and messed-up.

1 male strangled
1 male mauled offscreen
1 male mauled to death
1 male found with his mouth ripped apart
1 male had a portion of his face ripped off
1 female had her face mangled to a stretch
1 female falls to her death
1 baby killed in fall
Total: 8

Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Annie Ross, Gil Roper

And a messed-up story continues. Only this appears to be a lot weirder than the last.

Last time we saw Duane, he went crazy after finding out that the new girl of his dreams has a snapping reptilian of a baby fetus living in and out of her womb, accidentally kills her and then sews Belial back unto his side claiming that they're together again. (Answering your questions, yes, that counted as a spoiler, and no, I didn't made anything up in there)

A few months went by since this fateful night, it turns out Duane was somehow subdued and had Belial safely removed from him, after which their new caretaker Granny Ruth then placed the now crazy Duane to a quite room built into the house. She now explains to him that he's an uncle as Belial's deformed love is now pregnant.

Obviously after his stunt, Duane's not too well accepted by Belial's new family of freaks by the time they allowed him to be brought out and see his brother but thankfully that didn't stop them from tagging him along as they visit a family friend one road trip away from them, a doctor who specializes on treating freaks. One silly sing-a-long later, they reach their destination and Duane's silly antics unfortunately attracts the attention of a local girl whose father is the sheriff. When the local police force soon found out that the freaks responsible for the Time Square murders are around, they make haste on capturing Belial (or at least the next best thing, his babies!) for reward money.

Paths are soon crossed and this time Belial might not be the only one standing up against those threatening his family.

A little better in terms of eccentricity than the previous entry, The Progeny gave a healthier share of body weirdness and raunchy comedy that further staples this franchise's decent into black comedy territory. New freaks are introduced and funnier scenes showcased them singing a lovely song about personality, partying to celebrate the birth of Belial's babies and them finally making their presence known in public by ransacking (and placing a series of orders) at a local fastfood joint. If that ain't enough, we also have a weird dream sequence Belial had that may show he has a sophisticated side and a love for big tits, and climatic fight that kinda reminds me of that between Ripley and the Alien Queen in Aliens.

Then there's the kills; probably a the best in the franchise, The Progeny brought up some really bizzare murders as their cartoonish style bought up one hellish massacre that is both juicy and laughable.
My only complain here is that there isn't much characters here to relate to; Granny Ruth will be an exception to this claim. This character shined brighter in this sequel than she did in her debut movie, but Duane's been reduced to a bumbling fool who's trying his best to make up for what he did to his twin brother, and much of the "normal" characters are all jerks. Although seeing the message given at the end of the film, guess this was intentional and well fitting to the non-serious tone of the sequels.

While I'm still wondering the necessity of these sequels to the original, I'm willing to overlook this fact as long as I'm having fun watching them. Might be a bit of a rocky path to start with but it's closes the franchise quite well with this wild and imaginative finale.

Thank you for reading and have a Nice Day!
1 female shot with a shotgun
1 male had his neck crushed until his skull nearly pops out
1 male bitten on the face and yanked until beheaded
1 female shot with s shotgun
1 baby crushed
1 male had his head twisted to the back
1 male killed with a metal claw
1 male killed with a metal claw
1 male mauled to death
1 male mauled on the face
Total: 10

Lucky Little Torso


  1. Replies
    1. it's the super weird approach, isn't it?

    2. Pretty much.

      Not that I can't enjoy, I just didn't find it worked here.

    3. Well, I could had watched these movies right after I saw the first basket case 5 to 6 years ago but seeing that they hardly looked like a slasher, I never bothered.

      Decided to see it finally after watching a clip where Belial strangled a guy until his eye balls popped out. I find them passable but hardly worth of regretting for not seeing.