Special effects are in a golden age with the relatively recent arrival of Latexģô.
And fake blood.
That being said, thereís still plenty of Standard Blood Red No. 4 used here. This is detectable by the distinctly unbloodlike appearance the gallons of what looks remarkably similar to housepaint has. And thereís always scads of it.
So what, I hear you ask, is the cause for all this garish arterial spray warming the picture? Well, it lives in a basket and it used to be connected to its brother (who looks like a regular kid). He carries it around in a basket and it likes to eat. Meat mostly, and preferably still living.
Duane Bradley is a regular kid or so it seemsÖ but itís not so. Years back he had a brother, hideously disfigured, growing out of his side. These cojoined twins were separated against their will, and after discarding the corpse of the freak, the doctors and veterinarians who performed the operation went back to work and forgot all about it. Ten years later, Duane and his brother (rescued from a garbage bag) are in New York City to find the doctors who split them up and make them pay (itís the freakís idea, not Duaneís). However, Duaneís got himself a girlfriend in the city and the freak doesnít like this at all.
In my time as a reviewer of DVD Iíve witnessed the full gamut of films from the brilliant and the perfect through to the absolute dregs of filmmaking. This film, Basket Case, finds itself just short of that last category. For some reason, it doesnít quite manage to be the worst thing Iíve ever seen even if it does come bloody close. There is a certain undeniable charm about this film that finds me loathe to bag it too hard. I canít figure where this charm comes from, unless it is enmeshed in the identity of the freak. Perhaps thereís something in us that relates to the freak, the outcast, the misplaced. He and his brother were happy until someone elseís ideals came along and changed everything. Shoot, we can all definitely relate to that.
So while this film is poorly scripted, very poorly acted and predictable as all get out, it still maintains a kernel of empathy for the poor freak in his basket, suffering a life he never asked for and the desires he canít control. Thereís also one other thing about this movie that will find favour with the empathetic; passion. The cast obviously have a passion for the story and the film itself, even if they have trouble acting. The budget of 80 cents will attest to the fact this film is a labour of love more than anything else, so the charm also shines through a little in that.
No it isnít a great film. Itís not even a good film. Itís awful in fact. But beneath our spoilt and cultured appreciation of decent cinema and mind-blowing special effects there lies a place in which the love of film lends this effort at least a crutch to cross the desert.
Or maybe thatís just me.
Here, Basket Case arrives on DVD in the blistering 4:3 ratio. While thatís okay in itself, the original film print from which this is taken is mildly damaged by time and use. Thereís no shortage of film artefacts of all varieties, though they arenít too disruptive, and the colours are a little washed out. Blacks are true at least, although the shadow detail isnít the best. Being a horror film in which we soon know what the dark holds, the deep shadows work okay for the scarier moments and arenít really disappointing. Flesh tones are even enough throughout, although the blood mentioned earlier does get a little bit fakish looking at times. Maybe it was on special?
Thereís a hair caught in the gate for a while here at 11:49 through to 12:17 on the screenís base and there is a little bit of wobble at the reel changes. However, for a budget film from 1981, this transfer is probably the best they could have done (and when looking at the stock on some of the extras, this is practically unspoilt).
Basket Case may make itself some new fans in the 21st century and if it does, good luck to it. With modern cinema the way it is and the modern horror movie a much sleeker and stylish package these days, this may prove hard. However, thereís no doubt there's a cult audience out there who have been wetting their pants in anticipation of this splatter shocker arriving on DVD.
Itís as cheesy as a New York slice, itís as poorly acted as any soap opera and itís as bloody as hell, but this is a film that has its fan base and as far as transfers go this wonít over-excite, but it will prove more than adequate. To them I say, stick this in your basket.
To everyone elseÖ