Basket Case (1982)

Starring: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith and Beverly Bonner
Tartan Grindhouse
RRP: 15.99
Certificate: 18
Available 22 October 2007

Duane checks into a seedy hotel in New York, carrying a wicker basket. Inside the basket is Belial, his deformed siamese twin. The two had been born joined at the hip, Belial a misshapen head and two short arms. Although all the experts had said it would be dangerous to separate them, their father viewed Belial as an abomination and employed the services of a doctor prepared to take on the job. Belial was surgically removed against the express wishes of the brothers and left for dead. However, the two are telepathically linked, and Duane saved his brother and escaped to New York. Now Duane wants his revenge on the Doctor. However, Duane falls in love with the receptionist and tries to keep his liaison secret from Belial, who becomes furious at what he sees as competition for their special relationship...

Understandably, it's many years since I last saw this film. By today's standards it could be described as quaint. Viewers are more likely to laugh than be shocked or appalled, although I should point out that it was writer/director Frank Henenlotter's original intention for it to be a little tongue-in-cheek, if not an outright black comedy horror. Basket Case was a labour of love for him, which began with a more than modest budget of $7,000 but escalated before its completion to $160,000. Even in 1982 this was peanuts for the film industry.

Unlike Henenlotter's 1988 film Brain Damage, Basket Case has much to offer. The stop-motion sequences, particularly the one in which Belial trashes the hotel room, although dated, are well-handled for the time. But this film's strongest asset is the emotional bond between Duane and Belial, something you don't expect when it essentially involves a lump of rubber which spends most of its in a basket and doesn't talk audibly. This is testament more to the strength of the script than the acting abilities of Kevin Van Hentenryck, who wanders through the proceedings with a Frodo-like startled expression.

Extras are a trailer, a written film review by critic Alan Jones (an oxymoron perhaps, as the review is favourable), and a Tartan Terror trailer reel. The three filmographies are hardly worth being present, as they're virtually identical, containing the film titles Basket Case 1, 2 and 3, Brain Damage and Frankenhooker.

Ty Power

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