Blick Tolkien reviews Basket Case

Basket Case 91 min., 1982
Written by Frank Henenlotter
Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Language: English
My rating: ★★★

Conjoined brotherly love.

* * *

Only once in a lifetime do you run into a film this absolutely dreadful that is too good to turn off! There were parts of this film where I laughed so hard I thought I’d choke. The primary plot is simple and the execution is so dreadful that I fear should I reveal it someone may read this and think there is a reboot in order. A childbirth resulting in the death of the mother leaves the husband grief stricken and disgusted by his conjoined twin sons. He is left to raise them with the help of a loving aunt. The aunt sees nothing wrong with the children and treats them as individuals. Around the time that the children are 10 or 12 years old the father has exhausted all of his options talking to medical professionals about the best way to separate them. He is told at every turn that no doctor will touch this case so he enlists the assistance of three doctors to perform the separation off the books and in his dining room. After performing the separation, the deformed twin Bilal contacts his brother Dwayne psychically to retrieve him from the trash where he has been sealed in a garbage bag. Together they build a death trap and use it to bisect their father straight up the middle. After that the police investigate but can find no trace of either boy. This is because they have been sheltered by their aunt. They continue to live this way in upstate New York assuming a normal life until at twenty years old they go on a mission of revenge at the deformed twins’ behest.

This leads them to New York City presumably where Bilal finds his first victim, one of the doctors that performed the surgery. Eventually they go about the process of taking out all three doctors but not before biding their time by taking up residence in a seedy motel. The second doctor on their list has a secretary that, despite his misgivings, becomes Dwayne’s love interest. Since they are still psychically
connected, Bilal senses Dwayne making out with her elsewhere and flies into a rage destroying the room and calling the attention of the landlord as well as the residents. When they come to investigate they do not find him but it gives them the perfect opportunity to search through his stuff. At some point, one of the hotel’s residents gets a little too nosy and opens the wicker basket that Dwayne keeps his brother in, leading to his untimely demise. Once Dwayne finds out his brother got loose and killed someone, he sends his would be girlfriend packing so she is not next on the list. Forlorn at having to ditch her, Dwayne goes to the bar and has some drinks with a neighbor from the hotel. Once he gets good and sauced, he reveals in a series of outbursts and flashbacks the story of how he came to be in New York which we have already covered.

A little time later, his love interest makes another appearance at his place and they almost have sex before Bilal pops out of his basket and starts screaming bloody murder leaving Dwayne no choice but to kick her out again and curse his brother. Bilal decides to leave his brother behind in the apartment sleeping while he goes after Dwayne’s girlfriend. It’s not what you think..it’s worse since he’s coming there to have sex with her while she is asleep. Her becoming awake and aware during this process gets her killed and Dwayne arrives just in time to be too late to save her. Now Dwayne is tired of being a freak and an outcast and is ready to leave Bilal behind. Before he can leave, however, Bilal and he get into a fight and this tussle leads to a dramatically ill placed window being crashed through as they fall to their deaths.

I want to make something very clear here. As much as I laughed at this film, the one thing that remained consistently laughable was the performances. The opening sequence with the first doc being killed had such abysmal overacting that the only thing you can do is laugh or turn it off. There are many inconsistencies throughout the body of the film but sticking to this scene the man is shooting into thin air, takes the phone away from his face when hearing noises, and slew of other things that makethis nearly unwatchable. Everyone in this production’s acting deserves either a generous D minus or a conservative F plus. The only thing worse than the acting is the foam rubber brother they constructed. It’s almost as though they tried to make the puppet look as fuggly and unrealistic as they could. The awfulness is only elevated by the use of stop motion to animate this grotesque lump of flesh. The effects, both practical and severely cartoonish in their delivery, keep you wondering how they’re going to fuck this up worse. I’m pretty sure with all I’ve said about the bad effects, terrible acting, and overall suck this brings to the table that I wouldn’t give it two stars but I did and I’ll tell you why. The simple
explanation is laughter. The film is so overtly bad that is falls under the category I have deemed the “Ed Wood” effect. This is when a movie is so terrible that it becomes a beautiful cinematic train wreck which you just can’t look away from. Despite the gut wrenching urges to yell WTF at the screen for an hour and fifteen minutes straight, you end up laughing too hard to start. It’s a fun romp into a twisted and poorly developed world. Not good enough to invite your friends to rent, buy, or download, but if it were on You Tube it’s one of those things that might get posted as a Facebook status, simply so otherscould be in on what made you LOL so hard. If you have an opportunity to view this film, give it a shot and have a few laughs on me. Until next time, may all your films bring you fright.

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About Zeb Carter

About Blick Tolkien: The bastard half brother of Zeb Carter, he grew up in Chicago's urban jungle, forced to be the victim of racial injustice and daily bullying until the day he saw Night of the Living Dead. the immersion into violence on film gave him the tools to externalize his hate and make the world a horror show for all his enemies. A card carrying member of the Black Panther party, he hates whitey and all forms of coonery including any and all Tyler Perry films. You have been warned. About Zeb Carter: The younger brother of Blick Tolkien, he used horror films as a way to open him self up to the social and story telling aspects of cinematic fear as well as his love of the silver screen. After seeing Gremlins at the drive in he was hooked. He also writes short fiction, has 2 daughters and a pack of animals that he is currently serves as the alpha male over. You can read his fiction at forums.drabblecast.org.
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