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Film Reviews

B-Movie Madness: Basket Case (1982)

While perusing a selection of movies, the trap of the “B-movie” is that often the premise of the film is much more intriguing than the film itself.  Lurid sounding titles or plot lines draw you in, only to turn out to be much less salacious than promised—A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell is a particularly egregious offender. While the majority of these films’ premises can’t overcome the bad production/acting/script, there are a few notable exceptions, and one of these exceptions is Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case.

The titular 'basket case.'

Basket Case’s protagonist, Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck), travels from upstate New York to the “Big Apple” with only a wicker basket in tow. Duane finds shelter at a Times Square seedy hotel, inhabited by the most stereotypical New Yorkers imaginable who take interest in Duane’s basket and huge wad of money. We learn in flashback and through conversation that the basket contains Duane’s once conjoined twin, Belial, who is extremely deformed and freakishly strong. Duane and Belial’s trip to New York is for vengeance on the doctors who separated the two during their youth. Things get out of hand, however, when Duane meets Sharon (Terri Susan Smith), a young receptionist for one of the doctors Belial kills. Duane and Sharon begin to date, which angers Belial, causing him to go on a murderous rampage on people other than the doctors they originally set out to kill. The movie is a low-budget tale of fraternal fidelity and rivalry, with a surprisingly exciting ending.

Belial Nutshotting

Basket Case is most definitely a low-budget affair, with poor acting and even worse production value. The majority of the characters are fairly stock characters—such as the cantankerous flophouse worker who yells in a thick New York accent. All of the actors suffer from the same problem, they all spit out their lines in rapid succession, like elementary school children in a school play who have stage fright. Despite these obvious flaws, there is something endearing about the film that compels you to continue watching. First is the special effects and violence, which are practically comical; however, in an age where CGI reigns supreme, the artificiality of the special effects is charming, especially the stop-motion scenes of Belial. Also, the premise and storyline is highly compelling; you want to know what happens. First you want to learn Duane and Belial’s back-story, and then you want to see the climax. While this is no masterpiece, it is perfect for a night where you want simple popcorn entertainment, or the movie that becomes an “in-joke” with your friends.

This scene makes the entire movie

Theo Estes  5/12/11


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