Looking back at this 80s cult horror forty years after its release, I am initially struck by its oddity. It is precisely the strangeness of the film that developed a cult following and makes it stand out from other slasher genre films of its time.
Basket Case blends itself right into the centre of the exploitation scene in which Director Frank Henenlotter would proudly own the label and go on to direct another two further instalments in the franchise.
Shot on 16mm and with a tight budget, part of the films appeal comes from its raw approach to filmmaking from which is inspired by the seedier side of Manhattan, combined with the special effects from the antagonist, Belial, a deformed conjoined twin with sexual and deviant manifestations. The puppet is displayed mostly through stop-animation which adds to the disjointed final product.
The premise of the movie would add to the struggle to connect, following Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck), a man out of his element in New York for the first time, having travelled there with a wicker basket containing his twin who can communicate with him telepathically. Dwayne checks into a cheap motel and from here on in, a killing spree begins.
Dwayne is provoked into assisting Belial in his murderous activities, escorting him in a journey of revenge, but when he meets and falls for Sharon (Terri Susan Smith) a love triangle ensues with fatal consequences,
The result has Basket Case hosting a unique position at a time when experimental horror filmmaking was at its highest. These low-budget movies would find pride of place in the home entertainment circuit and along with the slogan “This is the sickest movie ever made!”, its status in the genre would morph into success and be welcomed to wallow in all its sick and warped glory.
While it may not be appealing to many, there are a select few that would lap up the grotesque and stylised generated from the boldness of the creativity involved that would appreciate Basket Case for this alone.
- Saul Muerte