‘Basket Case’ is a classic tale of one man and his once connected, mutated blob of a brother, as they embark on a quest of revenge against the conspirators who led to their removal. This is Frank Henenlotter’s first full length horror, and one which would not only spawn 2 sequels but secure his name in the cult hall of fame.
The plot is basically that which has been described above. After being separated against their will Duane carries his deformed Siamese brother Belial around in a wicker basket whilst trying to track down the locations of each of the doctors who separated them. Once it’s safe to do so, basically when there is no one else about, Duane unlocks the basket and of goes Belial! Naturally the storyline is not the most cerebral, but it’s bizarre enough to make it stand out and be remembered. If you are familiar with Henenlotter’s other work you will know that the real beauty of his movies is that he manages to carry off the most bizarre of scenarios very convincingly.
The script is quite witty in parts, and whilst it has the reputation for being a horror comedy, I found it to be a more subtle humour and not so much laugh out loud; there is plenty of irony and such to give it a little more credibility than plain slapstick. I think the movie gets its reputation for being so amusing from the low budget special effects, which some are satisfyingly dodgy! Most of the effects surround the brother Belial. He is completely malformed, and so a puppet fulfils the role of his onscreen appearances. Where we see his ‘body’ as a whole we are even treated to some clay motion which looks pretty amusing to say the least. Everything about this movie is low budget, making that obvious, rather than trying to deceive, only adds to the charm of the movie.
In addition to being quite funny, ‘Basket Case’ also has a reputation for being quite gory, although rather disappointingly it is not. It does have some scenes of violence; most involving Belial’s maniacal clawing at the doctor’s faces, however most of the real gore is limited to a few aftermath shots. These are reasonably gory but nothing too excessive, a few guts and dismembered limbs scattered around blood soaked floors and walls. Despite the bright redness of the blood these scenes fail to make much impact on a movie which is predominately not gory.
Overall Frank Henenlotter’s cult classic is still remembered fondly amongst fans that hype it from anything between a flat out gore-fest to a laugh-out-loud horror comedy. In all honesty whilst it is quite amusing in parts it most definitely is not all that gory. Don’t get me wrong here I am not trying to put it down, but I believe over hype is actually quite damaging to films. Despite the lack of hardcore gore, the film manages to deliver in every other aspect. In addition to everything else which has been said ‘Basket Case’ is an imaginative and unique cult movie which does deserve recognition. It’s an excellent beginning to Henenlotter’s small but excellent repertoire of films.