Here we will take look at Basket Case 2 (1990). We briefly covered the original in our Top-10 Horror Films of 1982 list. In the world of horror, the term “So bad, it’s good” get thrown around quote a bit. In fact, it is fair to say that the term get abused to include a litany of films that a few people like, but honestly are total trash.
The truth is that films so bad they are good are somewhat a rare bird. In this case, it’s not so much that Basket Case 2 is a movie so bad it’s good, but rather a movie that’s good at being exactly what it is, a silly little horror comedy.
If Lightning Strikes More Than Once…
The key for Frank Henenlotter is that he has a few notches on his belt. In addition to the Basket Case franchise, he also directed the wonderful drug-fueled worm bender Brain Damage (1988). The man has other credits to his name as well. While not as prolific as Larry Cohen, deserves to be revered for his brilliance in taking the ridiculous and the low-budget and polishing them into wildly entertaining films.
Picking-Up Where We Left Off
At the end of the original Basket Case, Duane Bradley and his former co-joined twin brother Belial, hang precariously from the 3rd floor of the hotel they previously called home. Belial clutches both to his brother and the flashing neon sign. When his grip on the sign slips, they plummet to cold concrete below, presumably to their death. The events that precede this include a murder spree to get back at the doctors that separated the brothers and few bystanders as well. Kevin Van Hentenryck reprises the role of Duane Bradley.
Not so fast, they actually survive the fall, broken and bloody. The world now unambiguously knows of their sibling rivalry. Being technically human, an ambulance transports both Duane and Belial to the hospital. Facing murder charges, Belial uses his psychic connection to his brother to convince him to flee. Believe it or not, this is where things get really weird.
Ruth’s Home For The Grotesque
With this film, Henenlotter confront the success of his former work. While totally tongue-in-cheek, the original film stayed within the orbit of being taken seriously. Needing to one-up himself, he really needed to up the ante of Basket Case 2.
Enter Ruth Smoller played by Annie Ross. Ruth sees the tragedy of Belial and Duane play out on television. She empathizes with the pair as she once has a deformed child with eleven arms. In response, she chose to spend her entire life providing safety and support for the the rest of the world’s deformed children. Upon see the pair on television, she rushes to the hospital to get Duane and Belial out of trouble. She beings them to her home so that they can live among people just like them.
Leveling Up The Monstrosities
This simple plot line allows Henenlotter to pull out all of the stops. He completely removes any self-imposed limitations and allows himself to create a menagerie of freaks to populate his insane world. The freaks cover every inch of ground on the continuum of mild freakish to completely bizarre. To be honest. these freaks go all the way to the wildly absurd. The good news is that if the viewer has not shut it off by this point, they committed to the ride a long-before this revelation. Anyone still watching loves where this is going.
It appears by most measures that Frank Henenlotter enjoyed a more forgiving budget for his sequel. The photography equipment and overall polish appears to have been upgraded substantially. Additionally, Belial has graduated from a stop-motion lump of silly putty to a full featured animatronic. He is much ore articulated and in some instances is performed by a human. The bottom line is that it provides a much richer look into his emotional state of being, or utter lack thereof in many cases.
An Interesting Intersection With Clive Barker
Interestingly enough, also released in 1990 was the motion picture adaptation of Clive Barker’s novella Cabal. The name of the film is Nightbreed. Hated by most critics at the time, Malevolent Dark loves Nightbreed. The interesting intersection is that their respective plots overlap rather significantly. In both films an enclave of monsters are hidden away from society, protected by some benevolent caretaker. In both films, their world collides with that of normal men with torrential force.
Wrapping It Up
Basket Case is to Evil Dead (1981) as Basket Case 2 is to Army of Darkness (1992). If you understand that analogy, you likely fall into one camp or another. For my taste, I never could really get with the in-your-face comedic approach to Army of Darkness. Likewise, I tend to lean a bit more towards the grittier originality of the first Basket Case. Still, there is definitely a strong contingent of horror fans that like their horror-comedy more transparent. Through both his writing and directing, Henelotter remains true to his intentions.
So yeah, Basket Case 2 is pretty fun. It’s not an especially good movie, but it’s surprisingly effective at what it intends to do. If horror comedy is your thing, this film is better than most and will not be a waste of time. Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments.
Basket Case 2 (1990) - The Brutal Return of the Bradley Twins - Malevolent Dark
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Date Created: 1970-01-01 00:33