BASKET CASE 2 (1990) Reviews and overview

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‘This time he’s not alone.’

Basket Case 2 is a 1990 American comedy horror film written and directed by Frank Henenlotter (Bad Biology; Frankenhooker; Brain Damage). The Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment production stars Kevin Van Hentenryck, Annie Ross and Kathryn Meisle.

A further sequel, Basket Case 3: The Progeny, was released in 1991.

Having survived their fall at the end of Basket Case, Duane Bradley and his hideously deformed brother Belial are rescued from hospital by an elderly woman named Ruth who, along with her beautiful granddaughter, are the caretakers of an extended family of similarly deformed individuals.

When a snooping tabloid reporter and a sleazy photographer threaten to endanger the community’s welfare, the two brothers join with the freaks to defend their privacy with a vengeance…

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Basket Case 2 is a lot slicker than the first film – it looks very much like most of the horror films of the time, right down to the colour palette – and a lot less sleazy. Belial has been rejigged slightly, the gore quota is reduced considerably and the comedy increased. But the mix of humour, horror and pathos remains, and the film is still very entertaining, even if the monster prosthetics look rather old fashioned – it’s this, more than anything else, that dates the film.

There are still extraordinary moments of audacious tastelessness, most notably Belial and Eve getting it on, and as a stand-alone film, it’s pretty good. It just suffers, inevitably, from comparison to the grimy original.

David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

Fast-paced and utterly strange, Basket Case 2 veers way over the top early on with Ross’ impassioned speeches while dressed in quasi-religious white gowns, surrounded by mutated inhabitants with faces resembling moons and tree stumps. The influence of Jerry Springer tabloid culture is unmistakable here and gives the film a nice twist; while the gore is kept to a surprising minimum…” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

” …a hilarious genre spoof. Weird menagerie of youngsters, mostly crazy variations on the Elephant Man by makeup whiz Gabe Bartalos, are treated very sympathetically at first, but as in Browning’s film their potential for scaring the audience also is exploited.” Variety

“Frank Henenlotter […] shows a dangerous tendency to try to make a real horror film, and we know Granny’s gentle mutants couldn’t even scare a human. Twenty minutes or so into the movie, there is very little left to surprise you, except an exceptionally tacky ending.” Caryn James, The New York Times

“If I’m being honest, though, I prefer that layer of grime and sleaze that’s been scrubbed away for this sequel, even if I do acknowledge and commend the ambition to strive for something different. It just so happens that the “something different” is just a slight step down from its predecessor despite a colorful cast of characters that even extends to the humans (Annie Ross is a hoot as Granny Ruth, though she’s truly unleashed in the next sequel).” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!

“There are very Henenlotter-esque touches such as the sight of Belial undergoing analysis […] Gabe Bartalos contributes a series of way out makeups – people with half-moon shaped faces, multiple mouths and the like – although, while these may have looked amazing on the design board, they are in practice clearly only facial appliances.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“Until the conclusion, when Henenlotter does manage to twist some kinks into the action, the plot ambles along without focus or the raw craziness that drove the first film.” Mike Mayo, The Horror Show Guide

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” …as a sideshow spectacle, as a film that collects everything terror learned at the hands of home video and readily available VHS, Basket Case 2 is terrific. But if you’re looking for a flawless example of what Henenlotter meant to exploitation, stick with the first film. This is nothing more than carnival barking for the sake of spectacle. Fear factors aren’t as important as latex and stipple this time around.” Bill Gibron, DVD Talk

Basket Case 2 is a fun ride brimming with ideas, but it fails to follow through on several key possibilities. The door is left wide open for a part 3 that hopefully brings back the chills and thrills missing from this installment. Those wanting to follow the further exploits of the Bradley twins will likely find much to enjoy here, but even the biggest supporters will be hard-pressed to recommend this title over the original cult classic.” Horror Talk

“Gore isn’t quite as emphasized as before, but Henenlotter still manages to create mayhem with terror sequences, though his interests remain on elaborate make-up work and grunting performers, digging into the Browning homage with both hands. With this group of deformed outcasts, it works, with dashes of humor and shock value thrown in to make a lasting impression.” Brian Orndorf,

“Writer-director Frank Henenlotter might not be able to get away with Basket Case 2 were his freaks not so outrageously exaggerated. This means that his film is Grand Guignol fun rather than truly scary. Henenlotter knows how to build suspense and generate a sense of horror–only to send everything up with a hilarious line.” Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

Cast and characters:

  • Kevin Van Hentenryck as Duane Bradley
  • Annie Ross as Granny Ruth
  • Kathryn Meisle as Marcie
  • Heather Rattray as Susan
  • Jason Evers as Lou
  • Ted Sorel as Phil
  • Beverly Bonner as Casey
  • Matt Mitler as Arty
  • Leonard Jackson as Police Commissioner
  • Judy Grafe as News Woman
  • Chad Brown as News Man


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