BASKET CASE (1982) Reviews and overview

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‘The tenant in room 7 is very small, very twisted and very mad’
Basket Case is a 1982 American horror feature film, written and directed by Frank Henenlotter (Frankenhooker).

The film is notable for its low-budget and over-the-top violence. It soon gained a cult following, spurred by the advent of home video. It spawned two sequels, Basket Case 2 (1990) and Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991), both also directed by Henenlotter.

In March 2017, Henenlotter announced on Facebook that Basket Case had been added to the permanent film collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

A young man named Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) has a Siamese twin brother who lives in a basket. At birth, the monstrous twin with a swollen claw-like hand was attached to Duane’s side. At an early age, they were surgically separated against their will. Duane’s twin deeply resented being cut-off from his normal-looking brother.

After the mutilation of Dr Lifflander in the quiet town of Glens Falls, the brothers go to live in New York. Neither brother can rest until they avenge their surgical separation by killing the doctors responsible…


Basket Case rocks like f*ck, and is embraced as a classic especially for its rough edges and inventive solutions to realizing its makers’ dreams with limited resources. Belial is a wondrous, nauseating creation, played most of the time by a puppet controlled by Van Hentenryck. Basket Case’s most deliriously engaging scene is a stop-motion animated segment wherein Belial freaks out and trashes his hotel room.” Mike “McBeardo” McFadden, Heavy Metal Movies

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“There’s a great bit where Belial destroys the room, and it’s impressive even today (even more so when you consider the movie’s $35,000 budget – and shot on film!). More often than not his movements are done by off-screen puppeteers or the actor he’s attacking just pretending that they are struggling, but I’ll take a little bit of stop motion over anything else.” Horror Movie a Day


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Buy Basket Case Trilogy on Blu-ray:

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” … like David Lynch’s 1977 oddball classic Eraserhead (a clear influence) updated for the slasher generation, Basket Case is a deranged psychodrama, full of gleefully gory set-pieces, quirky humour, and some impossibly moving pathos. So if you are looking for a true original to stand out from the Eighties crowd, they do not come crazier than this.” Eye For Film

“Henenlotter’s consistent blurring of the line between horror and comedy is one of the more perverse side effects of his warped sensibility, keeping viewers off-balance, so that they never know whether the punchline to one of Basket Case‘s many gags will be just that, a crude joke, or the sight of someone getting their face ripped to shreds.” Slant


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” …some garish characters and the nightmare quality of the New York hotel give it more low budget charm than it deserves.’ Roger Parsons, Time Out (London)

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