Basket Case (1982)

BASKET CASE (1982)
Article 3699 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-15-2011
Posting Date: 9-30-2011
Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Featuring Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner
Country: USA
What it is: Grotesque horror comedy

A young man arrives at a seedy New York hotel with a basket. What’s in the basket is small, alive, incredibly strong, and is capable of making bloody mincemeat of doctors living in the area.

The DVD package for this movie features a quote from Rex Reed in which he describes it as the sickest movie he’s ever seen, though I’m sure that I could find a few others that would get my vote instead. Still, according to the blurb on this movie in the “Fantastic Cinema Subject Guide”, the biggest critic of the movie was the director himself, Frank Henenlotter, who apparently hated it. I can only assume that the movie didn’t match his vision of it, because, frankly, he’s got nothing to be ashamed of here. If this movie was made on as low a budget as I heard it was, then he certainly displayed the directorial chops to bring it to life; it’s certainly better than anything I’ve seen from Herschell Gordon Lewis, to whom this movie was dedicated. Yes, it’s loaded with gore and nastiness, but it’s also peppered by a strong sense of humor, makes extremely good use of its seedy locations, has an interesting array of characters, moves along at a crisp pace, and features acting which, while not always what I would call “good”, is always entertaining. I love certain touches, such as the fact that the young man tells the backstory at the time when it’s most logical for him – that is, when he’s roaring drunk. I saw this one on commercial TV years ago, and I was surprised at watching it now how little it was cut – that is, until the end of the movie when the sex angle becomes more prominent. And I have to admit that the most memorable moment for me was the demise of the father, a horrible death with a funny punch line. It’s easy for me to see why this is such a cult favorite.

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