Basket Case (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frank Henenlotter|
|Produced by||Arnold H. Bruck|
|Screenplay by||Frank Henenlotter|
|Starring||Kevin Van Hentenryck|
Terri Susan Smith
|Music by||Gus Russo|
|Edited by||Frank Henenlotter|
Basket Case Productions
|Distributed by||Analysis Film Releasing Corporation|
Creswin Distribution (Canada)
Euro Space (Japan)
Sinfonia Films (France)
Basket Case is a 1982 American horror film written and directed by Frank Henenlotter, and produced by Edgar Ievins. Kevin Van Hentenryck stars as a normal-looking person who seeks vengeance for the unwanted surgery that separated him from his deformed conjoined twin brother. The film gained an audience in the 1980s due to the advent of home video and has been considered a cult film. The film spawned two sequels, Basket Case 2 (1990) and Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991), which were also directed by Henenlotter.
Duane Bradley arrives in New York City with a locked wicker basket. After he gets a room at a cheap hotel, the contents of the basket are finally revealed: in it lives his deformed Conjoined twin brother, Belial. Although conjoined at birth, the twins were surgically separated at an early age against their will, and Belial deeply resents being cut off from his normal-looking brother.
As the twins seek revenge against the doctors responsible for their separation, Duane befriends a nurse, Sharon. Jealous, Belial attacks and kills her when he becomes frustrated with his inability to rape her. Enraged at his brother for his actions, Duane attempts to kill Belial, which results in the two brothers falling from a hotel window.
- Kevin Van Hentenryck as Duane Bradley
- Terri Susan Smith as Sharon
- Beverly Bonner as Casey
- Robert Vogel as Hotel manager
- Diana Browne as Dr. Judith Kutter
- Lloyd Pace as Dr. Harold Needleman
- Bill Freeman as Dr. Julius Lifflander
- Joe Clarke as Brian 'Mickey' O'Donovan
The movie was shot on 16 mm film. Director Henenlotter did not have control over the post-production, and the result was dark, murky, and converted to a different aspect ratio. The film was shot in part on Manhattan's 42nd Street. Henenlotter wrote the film as he walked around Times Square, which he called a "seedy, wonderful atmosphere."
The special effects for Belial consist largely of a puppet in some scenes and stop motion in others. When Belial's hand is seen attacking his victims, it is really a glove worn by Henenlotter. The puppet is used in scenes with an actor and where the eyes glow red. The sequence for Belial's rampage used stop motion animation.
The film was first released on DVD in the United States by Image Entertainment in 1998. This version is currently out of print. The film was re-released on special edition DVD by Something Weird Video in 2001. It was released on Blu-ray September 27, 2011. Henenlotter supervised the Blu-ray release himself and fixed many of the issues he had with previous releases. This restoration was taken from a 35mm interpositive, with the original 16mm negative, which had initially been thought lost, used as a reference.
Rotten Tomatoes reports that 74% of 23 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review and an average rating of 6.51/10. The site's consensus reads: "While Basket Case definitely delivers all the gonzo gore promised by its cracked premise, it's really set apart by its rich vein of genuine pathos". Variety called it "an ultra-cheap monster film" with fine acting but criticized the blowup from 16 mm. David Harley of Bloody Disgusting wrote that "it's exactly the kind of movie it sets out to be." Heather Wixson of Dread Central rated it 3.5/5 stars and called it an "insane masterpiece that lovingly celebrates the sometimes schlocky and sleazy side of cinema". G. Noel Gross of DVD Talk rated it 5/5 stars and called it "an undeniable, unavoidable and unforgettable clasSICK". Patrick Naugle of DVD Verdict wrote, "The movie is just pure shock value" but "a heck of a lot of fun." John Kenneth Muir wrote that it is "a fine, competent low-budget effort that generates thrills and discomfort not only from its tale of symbiotic (and separated) Siamese twins, but from its authentic sense of place. New York City has never felt more delightfully and dangerously squalid." Muir goes on to call it "oddly compelling, deeply disturbing and inexplicably touching".
Rex Reed's quotation ("This is the sickest movie ever made!") used in promotion was not from any printed review. Reed had sought out the film after hearing negative reviews and was asked his opinion after emerging from the cinema. Unknown to Reed, the person who asked him was director Frank Henenlotter. Initially furious that his comment was used to promote the film, Reed eventually relented and granted permission.
In Popular Culture
Several scenes of Belial attacking people were featured during a segment of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (American TV series) during a segment called "Newsflash" where one of the comedians stands in front of a green screen and pretends to be a breaking news reporter reporting live. Everyone else can see what's happening behind him/her and the comedian has to guess what's happening based on clues from the other comedians who portray News Anchors. 
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- Galluzzo, Rob (November 3, 2011). "FRIGHT INTERVIEW – Frank Henenlotter (Writer/Director of BASKET CASE)!". IconsOfFright.com. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- Sorrento, Matthew (December 22, 2008). "THE "BASKET CASE" RETURNS(?): INTERVIEW WITH FRANK HENENLOTTER". Film Threat. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- "In Search of Hotel Broslin". Basket Case DVD special features.
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- Barton, Steve (July 11, 2011). "Basket Case Hits Blu-ray! All is Right in the World!". Dread Central. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- Wixson, Heather (September 21, 2011). "Exclusive: Frank Henenlotter Talks Basket Case Blu-ray; Possible Basket Case 4?". Dread Central. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- "Basket Case (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
- "Review: 'Basket Case'". Variety. 1982. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- Harley, David (October 19, 2011). "Basket Case". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- Wixson, Heather (September 19, 2011). "Basket Case (Blu-ray)". Dread Central. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- Gross, G. Noel (September 28, 2001). "Basket Case: SE". DVD Talk. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- Naugle, Patrick (September 23, 2011). "Basket Case (Blu-ray)". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- Muir, John Kenneth (2007). Horror Films of the 1980s. McFarland Publishing. pp. 217–219. ISBN 978-0-7864-2821-2.
- Walentis, Al (March 13, 1983). "Rex Reed on 'Basket Case'; 'Plan 9' sequel among undead". Reading Eagle. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
- "Whose Line is it Anyway? Episode 11-06". IMDB.com. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
- Cunningham, Lisa (2012). ""What's in the Basket?": Sexualized and Sexualizing Violence in Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case". In Ritzenhoff, Karen A.; Randell, Karen (eds.). Screening the Dark Side of Love: From Euro-Horror to American Cinema. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 145–157. ISBN 9781137096630.