Basket Case (1982)
Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Starring Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner, Robert Vogel, Diana Browne, Lloyd Pace, Bill Freeman, Joe Clarke
Something amazing seems to happen when Arrow Video and Frank Henenlotter come together for a release of one of his films. When I got their release of Brain Damage (which happens to be my personal favorite of his films), there were so many great extras that those alone make it worth picking it up. And this release of his first feature film is just the same.
Basket Case is the simple story of a two brothers who seek revenge on the doctors that separated them. Okay, so one of them, Belial, is a deformed Siamese twin that never fully developed that was growing out of the side of the ‘normal’ brother, Duane. Belial is kept in a large wicker basket that Duane carries around. They arrive in New York to find the last of the medical team on their list. But of course, everyone reading this already knows the story because you’ve already seen this flick, most likely more than a couple of times, right? If not, then this is one title that is a necessary requirement in your horror education.
This film, as well as writer/director Henenlotter himself, are great examples of low budget, do-it-yourself movie making. His plan was to get Basket Case made and maybe get it screened for a week or two. But because of his crazy ideas and inventiveness, he created a cult feature that is still as entertaining today as it was over 35 years ago when it first came out. You’ll find all about how it was made in all the extras that are packed full on this disc.
As I said, even the novice of horror fans should already know about this film so I don’t want to spend much time on the film itself. Most of you probably own a copy of it and are wondering do I really need to double dip and pick it up again? I mean, it was shot on 16mm….are they going to make it look that much better on a Blu-ray? Here’s the thing…it’s not just that the film looks great in this new high definition presentation, but it’s the extras that you need to pick this up.
First off, there is an all new audio commentary with Henenlotter and Van Hentenryck. And getting to hear Frank talk about one of his films, or anything for that matter, is always a lot of fun. Plus, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes information about the film that is discussed, along with Kevin adding a lot of details as well. They cover the different actors, the filmmaking locations, the hotel sets that were barely standing, and so many other great stories. Plus, it also has the original commentary from the previous release that has Frank on it, along with actress Beverly Bonner, producer Edgar Ievins, and another indie filmmaker Scooter McCrae. You can learn a lot about independent filmmaking just from listening to Henenlotter.
There are interviews with Henenlotter, star Kevin Van Hentenryck, Beverly Bonner, film critic and personal Joe Bob Briggs, and even Florence & Maryelle Schultz, who played the twin nurses! There is a featurette about the film where we get to hear from producer Edgar Ievins, casting person/actress Ilze Balodis, and special effects artists/assistant producer Ugis Nigals, where we get to hear even more info about the making of process. Then you have a Q&A that was filmed in 2017 at the premiere of the restoration of the film at the Museum of Modern Art!
If that wasn’t enough, there is a feature length documentary called What’s in the Basket that covers all three of the Basket Case films! Then we get outtakes, a video essay by Travis Crawford, and a brand new “interview” with Duane Bradley himself! Or at least until his brother wakes up.
There is also an animated short film by Robert Morgan called Belial’s Dream, which is about as twisted as you’d think it is, as well as a short making of it video as well.
And finally, we get Henenlotter’s first short film that he made, Slash of the Knife, that you can also watch with commentary by the director, and it even comes with outtakes.
Like I said, all of these extras along are worth the cost of this new release. There is so much entertainment value here that you’ll find yourself laughing out loud on some of the stories you’ll hear. Really a must buy.