Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 31st, 2018
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1982
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Writer: Frank Henenlotter
Cast: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner, Robert Vogel, Diana Browne, Lloyd Pace, Bill Freeman, Joe Clarke
BluRay Release Date: February 27th, 2018
Approximate running time: 91 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Encoding: Region Free
Retail Price: $39.95
“Duane Bradley is a pretty ordinary guy. His formerly conjoined twin Belial, on the other hand, is a deformed, fleshy lump whom he carries around in a wicker basket. Arriving in the Big Apple and taking up a room at the seedy Hotel Broslin, the pair set about hunting down and butchering the surgeons responsible for their separation. But tensions flare up when Duane starts spending time with a pretty blonde secretary, and Belial’s homicidal tendencies reach bloody new extremes.” – Synopsis provided by the Distributor
When it comes to the horror cinema, far too often there is a tendency to try to recycle a successful formula. With that being said, there are a handful of unique films that are an exception to the rule. Case in point, Frank Henenlotter’s (Brain Damage) feature film directorial debut Basket Case.
Basket Case features, what is arguably one of cinema’s most bizarre premises. The narrative is well executed and this film’s ample amount of “WTF” moments, ensure that there is an issue in regards to pacing.
And nowhere are these “WTF” more evident, then when it comes to the scenes where Belial unleashes his homicidal rage. Needless to say, these moments of bloodletting are overflowing with gore.
Without a doubt, this film’s greatest asset is Kevin Van Hentenryck’s (Basket Case 2, Basket Case 3) performance is the role of Duane Bradley. The majority of his characters onscreen interaction is with his brother Belial (who lives in the basket he carries around). Another performance of note is Beverly Bonner (Frankenhooker) in the role of Duane and Belial’s neighbor Casey.
From a production stand point, there is not an area where this film does not excel. The visuals do superb job capturing the mayhem that unfolds. Standout moments include, a flashback scene that reveals how Duane and Belial were surgically separated and a scene were Belial sneaks into Casey’s room. And this film’s finale provides a perfect coda for the events that have just unfolded.
Basket Case comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The transfer for this release was sourced from a brand new 4K restoration from the original 16mm negative by MoMA. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels remain solid throughout, grain looks natural and there are no issues with compression. When compared to previous home video releases for this film, this transfer for this release a massive upgrade, that is vastly superior in every way.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. There are no issues with background hiss or distortion, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release include, a Promo Gallery – radio spots (1 minute 51 seconds), a T.V. spot (55 seconds), three trailers (4 minutes 54 seconds), an Image Gallery (Promotional Stills, Behind the Scenes, Ephemera, Advertisements, Home Video Releases), a short animated film titled Belial’s Dream (4 minutes 49 seconds), a featurette titled Making Belial’s Dream (2 minutes 6 seconds), a short film titled Slash of the Knife (30 minutes 13 seconds), optional audio commentary track, image gallery and outtakes (5 minutes 30 seconds) for Slash of the Knife and an interview with film critic Joe Bob Briggs titled Belial Goes to the Drive-In (6 minutes 55 seconds).
Other extras include, a short film titled Basket Case 3 1/2: An Interview with Duane Bradley (8 minutes 30 seconds), an archival locations featurette from 2001 titled In Search of the Hotel Broslin (16 minutes 8 seconds), a 2017 Q&A from the film’s restoration premiere at the Museum of Modern Art titled Basket Case at MoMA (37 minutes 12 seconds), A Brief Interview with Director Frank Henenlotter (3 minutes 50 seconds), a visual essay about Basket Case titled The Frisson of Fission: Basket Case, Conjoined Twins and ‘Freaks’ in Cinema (23 minutes 3 seconds), an interview with Edgar Ievins, Ilze Balodis, Ugis Nigals and Kika Nigals titled The Latvian Connection (27 minutes 33 seconds), an interview with actress Beverly Bonner titled Blood, Basket and Beyond (6 minutes 4 seconds), an interview with actresses Florence and Maryellen Schultz titled Seeing Double: The Basket Case Twins (8 minutes 55 seconds), an interview with actor Kevin VanHentenryck titled Me and the Bradley Boys (16 minutes 24 seconds), a documentary titled What’s in the Basket? (78 minutes 41 seconds) and two insightful audio commentary tracks – the first audio commentary with Frank Henenlotter, producer Edgar Ievins, actress Beverly Bonner and filmmaker Scooter McRae and a second audio commentary with Frank Henenlotter and Kevin VanHentenryck.
Topics discussed in the interview with Joe Bob Briggs include, how the first time that he saw Basket Case was at the Cannes film festival, his thoughts about the film, audience reaction to the film and Frank Henenlotter.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Basket Case at MoMA include, the Museum of Modern Art’s restoration of Basket Case and comments from Frank Henenlotter and the cast.
Topics discussed in the extra titled The Latvian Connection include, Frank Henenlotter, Son of Psycho, Slash of the Knife, Basket Case / the cast / special effects / onset memories / locations / post production and their thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Beverly Bonner include, Basket Case and how she was cast, onset memories, Frank Henenlotter, audience / her families reaction to the film, horror genre conventions and her thoughts about her character Casey.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Seeing Double: The Basket Case Twins include, how Frank Henenlotter is their cousin, personal memories about Frank Henenlotter, Basket Case, onset memories, how they are stilled recognized all these years later because of their appearance in Basket Case and their thoughts about twins.
Topics discussed in the interview with actor Kevin VanHentenryck include, his origins as an actor, Slash of the Knife, Basket Case, his character / role preparation, the cast, onset memories and his thoughts about Basket Case.
The extra titled What’s in the Basket? is the definitive word on the Basket Case trilogy.
Rounding out the extras is a slip cover, a reversible cover art and a twenty-eight-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled “Case” History written by Michael Gingold, Cham-pain in the Park! – A Basket Case Comic Strip by Martin Trafford and information about the transfer. Overall Basket Case gets a definitive release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.