in Shocktober

Shocktober: Day 17

Basket Case (1982)

Some might say the selection of Basket Case was a a misstep on my part. Most of the film’s I’ve selected for “Shocktober” or “Shlocktober” have bee universally panned, but this one not as much as I thought. Sure I found it on many web columnists’ and blogger’s “Top Ten Worst Horror Movies Lists” but I was shocked when I found that the usually dependable rating site/my filmgoing bible Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a 79%. Sure it’s only out of 19 reviews but still, does this film belong here? It all depends on what I use to declare a movie as bad and though this is probably the best movie I’ve seen for this series that’s not saying much.

Considering this film is so low budget there’s a lot to appreciate in Basket Case. It’s a quirky and somewhat interesting story with a few nice laughs but at the same time I can’t get over the film’s monster. I think it helps to know your boundaries in independent filmmaking, know what will look good and what won’t and this film doesn’t seem to recognize that. Director Frank Henenlotter (a self proclaimed exploitation filmmaker) claims this movie is a dark comedy but still I wonder. Is Henenlotter just saying that because it turned out so ridiculous? Because if this is supposed to be a comedy it’s a tad off balance.

Basket Case is the story of Duane Bradley a seemingly nice if not naive young man who arrives in New York City with a large basket. What’s in the basket? Why it’s his parasitic twin that he shares a telepathic link with of course. Duane has arrived in the big city to get revenge on the all the doctors who separated him and his still living twin Belial when they were children. Well really it’s Belial who gets the revenge, despite the fact that he’s just a big hunk of mangled flesh. Complications arise when Duane starts to get a taste of life without Belial, going out on dates and what not, this of course leads to many new corpses.

“So he has a parasitic twin in a basket? That sounds terrible!” Well yes, the Beliali puppet (which on one occasion is stop motion) is one of the dumbest monsters I’ve ever seen. How can something without legs or even certain organs for that matter overpower and kill people, or do anything for that matter? It just looks so bad, what the hell is that thing? Duane describes it as looking like “a squashed octopus” that takes a little imagination but it’s a start.

Maybe this is a dark comedy but if it is I think it missed some opportunities. The idea that I’m supposed to take any of the non humorous moments as serious is a stretch. This is some kind of weird shlocky mish mash of horror and comedy that has it’s high and low points, not too bad but nothing I ever wanna see again.

And below we have pic of Belial in all his glory.