Sometimes when films get rereleased, it is those with the smallest budgets that get the most love. That is certainly the case with this HD version of Basket Case, the dark twisted 42nd Street classic shocker.
Even after all these years, the idea of Basket Case sounds bonkers – Duane arrives in New York City to take revenge on those who separated him an his brother Belial, and he carries this brother around in a basket. These days such an idea probably would not get past the drawing board, but luckily Frank Henenlotter is not the kind of director to use a drawing board, he just jumps straight in. The filming began before he even had complete funding and they used the ‘Dailies’ (or ‘Monthlies’ as Henenlotter calls them) to get the remainder of the budget.
The film remains darkly funny and incredibly bloody and Belial, the deformed brother, is still a freaky looking bastard. If you don’t laugh as Duane feeds Belial a package of sausages and a number of burgers then perhaps b-movies are not for you!
Basket Case looks better than it ever has, the original big screen adventure (never saw it on the big screen, I am taking this information from the commentary) and subsequent video version had sections that were dark as hell but here it looks clean and crisp. Aside from one scene where there is a splodge of dirt in the corner as commented on in the commentary! The sound is clean and crisp and the film remains in 4:3 as originally filmed rather than being pulled and squished as it was on the cinema screen.
So what else do we have here? The big feature is an excellent documentary ‘What’s In The Basket?’, an interesting look at how this nightmare got to the big screen, with everyone involved giving their story. Henenlotter is so entertaining here that the first thing you will do after watching it is put the feature back on with the commentary ON, a reward that will have you laughing along with Henenlotter and star Beverly Bonner and producer Edgar Ievins. Learn everything you didn’t think you needed to know!
There is also a great feature on the poster artist Graham Humphreys, who also did the art for the Evil Dead movies and Nightmare On Elm Street, so his work is very familiar to an 80’s horror freak like myself. In Search Of The Hotel Broslin is a jokey extra as there was no Hotel Broslin, just a lift shaft made up to look like the desk and drapes on the walls to create the illusion of a hotel!
Add trailers, promos, radio ads and an introduction by the director and Basket Case has never looked or sounded better. Let Belial into your nightmares once more!
All together…”WHAT’S IN THE BASKET?”