Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Basket Case"(1982)d/Frank Henenlotter

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Frank Henenlotter IS cult,horror,and exploitation movies,period.His twisted take on twins,the memorable cult classic,Basket Case,ran FOREVER as a midnight feature in New York City,and it's easy to see why.Shot on a shoestring budget,this grimy little fairy tale has attained notoriety for all the right reasons:buckets full of the free-flowing red stuff,a thick vein of dark humour,a cast of unknown non-actors,an insanely original screenplay full of inventive murders,and an unforgettable lead character named Belial who lives in a basket.What the hell else could you ask for?!!?
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Could you pass the toilet paper,bro?Uh,AND that issue of Hustler?
Late at night,Dr. Lifflander is followed to his house by a shadowy stalker.He fires some shots at the twisted shadow,then tries to phone the police,but is torn in half by a horribly deformed claw-hand.The next day,Duane Bradley arrives in a seedy section of midtown Manhattan,carrying a large basket,and takes a room at the Hotel Broslin,a roach motel frequented by many unsavory characters.He visits Dr. Needleman's office with the basket in tow,and scores himself a date with Needleman's wig-wearing receptionist.The good doctor sees Duane's deep and livid scarring running down his side before Duane shows himself the door.Needleman calls Dr. Cutter and tells her what he has seen that day in his office,but Cutter is more concerned with a young man she is entertaining for dinner.Duane empties the contents of the basket at the foot of the steps to Needleman's building,and it breaks down the door to his office,and abruptly rips him to shreds.It is a twisted and powerful mass of flesh and bone,with monstruous features,sharp teeth and claws.
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While out for a drink,Duane runs into Casey,a prostitute who lives at the Broslin down the hall from him.Her questions about the basket send the drunken Bradley into the history behind he and the basket contents.It is his formerly conjoined siamese twin brother,Belial!His mother died giving birth to the weird pair,causing his father to despise the misshapen sibling.He hires three doctors of varying pedigree(Cutter is a veterinarian!)to remove the lump of flesh from Duane's side.Duane rescues Belial from the garbage(!)and the terrible twosome off the callous dad with a buzzsaw on wheels,effectively cutting the heartless bastard in half longways!next day Duane sneaks out with the receptionist,Sharon, for their sightseeing date(leaving the creature a broken black and white television to watch while he's gone),but the thing in the basket is telepathically linked with him,so when he kisses the girl,it alerts the creature back at the hotel room,causing it to go crazy ape bonkers,destroying the room.Meanwhile a crummy,old pickpocket who had earlier noticed the Bradley boy's roll of money(ironically,the entire budget of the movie itself!) breaks into the room to steal it,only to face off with the homicidal deformity in the basket.He struggles with it,into the hallway and into his own room before it takes his life in a spurting,slashing attack,before it escapes out the old man's window as the police arrive.When Duane and the detectives examine the turned over room,the basket is empty.Alone,Duane discovers his partner in crime,hiding in the toilet until the coast is clear.
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What's in the basket?People are dying to find out.
The next day,Dr. Cutter is visited by Bradley and his murderous basket,and when she opens it,Belial springs out onto her back,slashing and biting her,before finally jamming her face into an open drawer full of scalpels.When the two big boned German hausfrau-looking receptionists break in,the doctor resembles a human pin cushion,screaming at the top of her lungs as she passes on.At night,a restless Belial emerges from his basket as his brother sleeps and dreams of streaking through the empty streets of New York,arriving at Sharon's place to find her also sleeping,nude(no pajamas in the Big Apple? Sheesh.).He dreams of caressing her then begins to make love to her,only when he awakens,the basket is empty again.He has been experiencing telepathy from Belial,who's taken it upon himself to break off a little piece of wig girl for himself.Angrily,Duane snatches the horny lump of flesh off of Sharon's bloody loins and takes him back to the Broslin,where the granddaddy of all sibling squareoffs is about to take place.In the climactic final act,Duane and Belial have a serious brother-to-brother chat.
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Have your pet spayed or neutered,goodbye Dr. Cutter!
Henenlotter,apart from re-releasing a cornucopia of cult classics through Something Weird Video,under the "Frank Henenlotter's Sexy Shockers" banner,has helmed an impressive handful of midnight movies of his own,including two inventively warped sequels to "Basket Case",the ever-popular follow up,"Brain Damage"(1988),and "Frankenhooker"(1990),all of which are solid works of grindhouse cinema indeed.The Japanese,smitten with the horny little murderer, even produced a string of Belial christmas lights to go around your tree!The Something Weird Special Edition DVD has a slew of extras,and is deserving of a place on your shelves,right away-like.I know I always wanted a brother just like Belial,though if he ever got any ideas about my Mel,they'd be calling him Casket Case.Insert rimshot here.
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Victoria said...

This is SUCH a classic, and a great example of cheesy effects following through with an unforgettably great movie. Not to mention there is nothing better then watching Belial get a feel for a lady

beedubelhue said...

Most of the Basket nay-sayers cite Belial's horny fumbling and/or rape scenes as what condemned him in their minds to death.Eff 'em,Belial rules.


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