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BASKET CASE

1982, dir. Frank Henenlotter
91 minutes. Not Rated.
Starring: Meatwad, Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Diana Brown, Lloyd Pace, Bill Freeman.

Review by Justin Patterson

When our illustrious publisher (the Grassy Gnoll) asked for contributions in time for Halloween, he played to my strengths. He asked for the weird, the obscene, the over-the-top and the gory. Even before DEAD-ALIVE, the first thing that came to mind is the 1982 masterpiece called BASKET CASE.

The first time that I saw this movie was back in the early nineties. The two smartasses behind the counter at the video store laughed at me a lot for wanting to see it, but I never cared what those two young whippersnappers thought all that much. When I watched it, I remember thinking, "Hey, this ain't all that bad. The effects suck, but it was 1972. It's pretty good, for coming out back then." Ten minutes ago, the grim realization hit me that this movie was made in 1982, not 1972.

Keeping that in mind, I now realize that the effects in this movie really blow.

Anyway, this movie is everything that you could want in a B-grade horror film. It has a twisted premise, little plot, poorly made fake blood, a monster, moral conflicts, a girl who was hot at the time it was made, and half of the budget went into the crappy special effects. It's offensive, way too bloody, silly in retrospect, offensive, convoluted, way too bloody, poorly written and more fun than a sackful of rabid weasels.

The basic idea of the movie is pretty twisted. An otherwise normal young man is carrying around some kind of monster in a basket, being polite and looking for people and then opening the basket and siccing the monster on them. Our protagonist (not Hiro!) was a Siamese twin, with his brother growing out of his midsection. They were conjoined, mmkay? When protagonist was all growed up, slimy doctors performed extremely risky surgery to separate them. Both brothers got miffed at this and acted out in the worst case of postpartum depression this side of Susan Smith. Normal brother and monster brother tracked down the docs who separated them and killed them. There's a girl in there, somewhere.

Since this film far predated CGI and the superior technological achievements of, say, the Muppets, the monster effects are really wretched. It's jerkier than THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, and comes across as something like the Rancor crossed with Slimer.

I found a couple of interesting tidbits about the film online. For one, they were allowed to film inside a decrepit Times Square hotel as long as they didn't reveal the actual name of the hotel. Yes, it was that bad. Also, when our protagonist checks into the hotel, he pays from a roll of bills in his backpack. Turns out it was the entire budget for the movie.

Yeah, looks good on you, though!

Anyway, it's a bad film with bad writing, bad acting, mediocre direction, wretched special effects and bad hair. Would I recommend it? Absolutely! This kind of movie is just one of the many reasons that I love the Halloween season as much as I do. It's bad and I'm glad that I never paid to see it in a theater, but that doesn't mean that I regret having paid to rent the thing four or five times. Fun, stupid party movie. Watch it!

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