Basket Case (1982)
Cast overview, first billed only:
|Kevin Van Hentenryck||….||Duane Bradley|
|Terri Susan Smith||….||Sharon|
|Robert Vogel||….||Hotel manager|
|Diana Browne||….||Dr. Judith Kutter|
|Lloyd Pace||….||Dr. Harold Needleman|
|Bill Freeman||….||Dr. Julius Lifflander|
|Joe Clarke||….||Brian ‘Mickey’ O’Donovan|
|Richard Pierce||….||Duane’s Father|
|Sean McCabe||….||Young Duane|
|Ilze Balodis||….||Social Worker|
|Tom Robinson||….||Thief in Theater|
Runtime: 91 min / Sweden:86 min
Certification: Australia:R / France:-12 / Norway:(Banned) (video rating) / UK:18 / USA:Unrated / West Germany:18 / Netherlands:16 / Finland:K-18
Trivia for Basket Case (1982)
- The film crew was allowed to film inside a run-down Times Square hotel as long as they didn’t reveal the actual name of the place, to avoid New York Health officials from investigating the poor living conditions.
- When Duane checks into the Hotel Broslin he takes out a wad of cash. According to Frank Henenlotter, the film’s director, this was the film’s entire budget.
The Big Surprise
Basket Case is in all basics, a good movie. The camerawork and direction are quite good. Henenlotter has the knack for knowing where to put the camera, unlike practically all sleaze directors, including his credited mentor, Herschel Gordon Lewis. Henenlotter can express a lot more than cheap gorefest thrills, and clearly cares about the artistic result. Savant guesses he would be a good director of almost any kind of film that interested him.
There are drawbacks, but no serious ones. The acting is of course uneven, but not only is the lead VanHentenryk good, but other actors are even better. The hotel superintendent (Robert Vogel), and Duane’s prostitute neighbor (Beverly Bonner) actually come off as rounded characters that we care about. Only the girlfriend Sharon tends toward amateurishness – maybe. Savant’s no sage judge of acting, and I’ve frankly met more than one woman who behaves exactly as does Sharon.
Belial as a monster is competently handled in most scenes. He is disgusting in a convincingly gross way in some shots, and a pitifully inert lump of latex in others, pulled by wire or stuck on a broom handle. In some shots he’s manipulated via crude stop-motion pixillation, which is amusing simply because there’s not even an attempt to be convincingly real. At this level of filming, he’s still far more credible than the usual zombies and such, mainly because he’s interesting. Every ten minutes the requisite scene comes along with blood splashing on the walls, and faces ripped up like a cat’s scratching post, but unlike Friday the 13th, these aren’t the highlights of Basket Case.
In the 1986 interview, Frank Henenlotter expressed his disenchantment with contemporary mainstream horror and the currently popular Spielberg films. After the success of Basket Case the only offers he received were for slasher films, for which he had no use whatsoever. Gotta like this guy.
Basket Case remains interesting not only because of its likeable cast, but because it actually seems to be about something. Although the surface is pure 42nd Street grindhouse rubbish, Basket Case has the spine of sterner stuff. At first, the Belial story comes off as an opportunistic melding of Sisters and Eraserhead. Savant reads it as another Jekyll and Hyde / Psycho transference story. The tale of Duane aiding and abetting his brother’s murders, while trying to start a healthy relationship and stay sane, is a split-personality story. There’s never any doubt that Belial does exist and is a separate creature, but he still evokes half of a serial-killer type of psychopathic personality. Belial is an object-correlative of Duane’s ‘dark side’, the ugly, nasty, destructive and socially taboo part of Duane Bradley. It needs to be shamefully hidden from the world, but it can’t be denied. Duane loves his brother and is loyal to him (almost to the end). The horror comes from Duane’s inability to (sigh) reconcile all this killing and gore with his desire for a normal life. The relationships and psychology work, elevating this sleazy-looking picture far above 42nd street.
Then again, Savant won’t be showing the kids the yucchy scene where Belial rapes and murders one of his brother’s girlfriends…
In this third installment of the cult favorite, the twin Bradley brothers, Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) and Belial, continue their sibling rivalry and battles, but kiss and make up when Belial learns he’s an expectant father. The whole family moves into new quarters, Granny Ruth’s (Annie Ross) home for the freaks and deformed, and encounters problems when they seek medical help to deliver Belial’s offspring.