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  Starring
  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • 2 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • Featurette
  • Photo gallery
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • TV spot
  • 2 Radio spot
  • 2 Radio play - Interviews

Basket Case

Umbrella Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . R . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Itís 1981.

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.

"Whatís in the basket?"

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.

  Video
Contract

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).

  Audio
Contract

A generic Dolby Digital stereo mix is all on offer here and while the levels of all factors are mostly even, the overall presentation is average at best. The screams go much louder and get a little irritating in their length while the sound effects are sufficiently slurping and sucking and wet to please the gore fans. Music by Gus Russo is practically vacant for the first half and practically synthetic when it does turn up. By synthetic, of course I mean the film was made in 1981 and so was the music. He probably wore braces with no shirt while recording it.

  Extras
Contract

Hereís where the value is piled on for all you fans out there.

Behind the Scenes is 6:12 of off-set footage that is in very poor condition indeed, but does have a moment or two of humour amongst the dross. This plays more like outtakes than behind the scenes though.

A recent featurette turns up next, In Search of Hotel Broslin. Hosted by writer/director Frank Henenlotter and some guy called Rocket Man, this is an interesting pursuit of the original locations obviously made for the DVD. It features some still similar looking locales and some quite comical moments of New Yorker pleasantries and Thomas Wolfe references. Funny and well worth the visit for the 15:31 it runs.

Two trailers of a minute and more come next followed by a similar looking TV commercial. Two radio spots come in next and are a different inclusion. These are basically silly little commercials advertising the film.

There are also two radio interviews with Terri Susan Smith (the girlfriend) that run for 6:57 and 1:54. Apparently Ms. Smith screams better than Jamie Lee Curtis (also in cinemas at the time with Halloween).

Finally a photo gallery runs like a short film for 4:50 and features plenty of backstage hijinks. Plus, thereís a bonus in the end in the original art, posters and lobbycards from the time of release.

Plus, as if that isnít enough, thereís a feature length commentary with writer/director Frank Henenlotter. He waxes lyrical about his schlockfest with obvious love and provides some interesting info and stories about the set and the film, including some technical secrets (though they are probably more than apparent already to a jaded 21st century audience). Still, as far as one-man-band commentaries go, this one is above average for content and listenability.

So thatís a bit of a grab bag (or a garbage bag, if you like).

  Overall  
Contract

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


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      And I quote...
    "Well, this sucked. Sucked good."
    - Jules Faber
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    • Audio Cables:
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    • Video Cables:
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