Basket Case (1982)

FRANK HENENLOTTER

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

USA, 1982. . Screenplay by Frank Henenlotter. Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Film Editing by Frank Henenlotter.

Comedy and horror blend beautifully in this oddball cult classic. Duane () shows up green and eager in New York City, holding a giant basket that he won’t let anyone touch and which he won’t leave behind. He checks into a sleazy Manhattan hotel, buys a bunch of burgers and feeds them into the basket while having what seem like one-sided conversations with the apparently telepathic creature that is contained within it. Once Duane begins his search for three doctors from his past, we begin to learn what’s going on: he was born with a malformed conjoined twin named Belial who was successfully removed by surgery but is a violent angry killing machine that, despite its petite stature, can do quite a bit of damage to the bodies it comes into contact with. Duane’s relatively benign interviews with the doctors who performed the surgery are at odds with Belial’s plans for them, and through a series of impressively gross (and simultaneously, but never derisively, campy) sequences we watch as Duane hopelessly tries to keep his brother’s worst activity in check while never honest about his own feelings of vengeance. A flashback to the boys being raised by their tough grandmother before being separated adds magnificently bold storytelling strength to a conceit that, while it sounds ridiculously gimmicky, is actually quite captivating.

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