Duane Bradley’s a normal enough guy, if a little quiet, but what’s up with that danged basket he’s always got under his arm? Those who know what’s best for them won’t peek, but, as those who’ve already given these outrageously brilliant films a look will know, it’s hard to resist, especially in this lovingly nourished Blu-Ray rerelease.
The Film Itself
Basket Case is one of the best, and one of the most outsider, of all the outsider indie horrors ever produced. Downbeat, sensitive, and admirably deliberate in its pacing (outside of the hair-raising murder scenes), it comes on with an authenticity and an intensity that director Frank Hennenlotter’s later films – all in a broadly similar vein – never quite matched, though not for lack of trying. Its sequel, Basket Case 2, would have had its work cut out for it trying to top it, and it is therefore unsurprising that it goes the route of so many horror sequels and ups the campy comedy factor. With Belial coming into his own when he discovers a whole gang of freaks living anonymously in a mansion in upstate New York, it’s an equally memorable experience, and one more immediately enjoyable than the first, but its slightness can’t help but undermine its most effective moments, such as its horrifically poetic ending. By the time of the third film, it had become apparent that the series was now a sequel mill and, while Basket Case 3: The Progeny remains enjoyable, it’s telling that the only detail that stands out clearly is an early moment in which Granny Ruth’s freaks sing the showtune “Personality”; the highlight of the film might have been a cringey moment in either of the first two.
Audio and Visuals
Despite an increasing budget, none of the three films ever looked outstanding in its own day, marred most particularly by cheap lighting. While the original makes a virtue of its junky-needles-and-hookers New York, the second and third films, despite some moments of visual invention, never managed to move convincingly beyond the level of television production. That said, the job done here is as adequate as one could ask for, and nothing is out of place.
The Blu-Ray is housed in a reassuringly tough steelbook, albeit one with slightly indifferent cover artwork.
The extras for the trilogy are all housed on the first disc, and include an audio commentary; the documentary “What’s in the Basket?”, which extensively covers the making of the trilogy, and features a frank Frank Henenlotter admitting that he didn’t really care about the third film; “Grisly Graham Humphreys”, in which the poster artist discusses his work; a slightly half-hearted “Introduction” by Henenlotter; the odd “In Search of the Hotel Broslin”, a tongue-in-cheek location comparison; and the usual outtakes, trailers, radio spots, and galleries.
Fans of this undeservedly obscure oddball trilogy will no doubt already have placed their preorders; newcomers are urged to follow suit.
The Basket Case Trilogy arrives on our shelves today (14th March), will you be buying yourself a copy? Let us know in the comment box below!