Comedy, Horror, Monsters, Sequel

Basket Case 2 (1990)

Comments Off on Basket Case 2 (1990) 23 October 2016

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Production Studio: Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment

Blu-Ray Distributed By: Synapse Films

Initial Release: March 2, 1990

Blu-ray Release: August 9, 2016

Director: Frank Henenlotter

Rating: R

Reviewed By James M. Dubs

I’ll watch anything…including Basket Case 2.

I once met Kevin VanHentenryck, star of the Basket Case trilogy, at the Cinema Wasteland convention in Strongsville, OH. If you ever attend, say “hello” to Ken Kisch, and pet his mane for me.

2010-09-12_cinema-wasteland_kevin-van-hentenryck_2My memory is foggy at best (it was 2001 after all), but I remember the cult-status actor appeared introverted, maybe even a little socially awkward, much like the title character he plays. Although, it could have been the mood we were all in since this convention took place on September 14-16, three days after the events of 9/11. Despite all of this, he was incredibly humble and generous with his time. He enjoyed speaking more on sculpture and art, and not about his movies, and I suppose that is somewhat understandable since the Basket Case films aren’t exactly high art.

So I’m not going to talk at length about Basket Case 2 or Basket Case 3, at least not in terms of plot or opinion. If you want a more detailed summary and critique, my counterpart James Klein has already done that with the previous DVD releases. You can find those here: Basket Case, Basket Case 2, and Basket Case 3.

This review will be more focused on the technical aspects of Basket Case 2 (with Basket Case 3 to follow) and provide a little counterpoint to my friend’s reviews. Let’s see what’s in the wicker basket…

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

bc2_1From Synapse Films press release:

Duane Bradley and his surgically-separated twin brother Belial return in this frightfully gory follow-up to Frank Henenlotter’s original monster movie classic, BASKET CASE. After surviving a fall from a hospital window (Editor’s Note: they actually fall out of a hotel window), the two brothers become media targets. Duane’s aunt, Granny Ruth (played by world-famous Jazz singer Annie Ross), whisks the duo away to a secluded mansion, where other freaks-in-hiding live out their days away from public scrutiny. When a snooping tabloid reporter finds the location of the mutants, Duane and his new family must stand together to keep their freedom a secret. And, in all the chaos, Belial might actually find true love!

bc2_2Writer/Director Frank Henenlotter’s imagination is vivid, strange, and frightening. And I mean that as the most sincere of compliments. Basket Case is a weird movie with a capital W and it’s the kind of cinema that runs hot and cold with audiences. You either love it or hate it, “get it” or you don’t. Neither side is wrong. We’re simply pointing out the obvious: If your home video shelf is filled with Oscar nominated films or “highbrow” art films, stay the f@&! away from Basket Case.

For the rest of us, if you click over to Mr. Klein’s review of Synapse Films Basket Case 2 DVD, you’ll note that he ranked it 3 out of 5 stars, and I would echo that opinion. To summarize, overall he found Basket Case 2 to be an enjoyable and entertaining movie, but was disappointed that Frank Henenlotter didn’t retain more of the sleazy, exploitation traits of the original.

bc2_4This is probably the only area in which we mildly disagree, because I view the original and Basket Case 2 to be equally entertaining films. To put it another way, he likes the original more than I do. From my perspective, Basket Case 2 is just as entertaining as the original as long as you accept the shift from horror to horror-comedy. If Basket Case makes you squirm, Basket Case 2 still retains that effect, but turns up the silliness.

Video & Audio Rating: ★★★★½

bc2_5Synapse Films is nothing, if not consistent with their releases. Sourced from the “original 35mm camera negative”, Basket Case 2 looks as good as any modern film on blu-ray. Daytime shots are bright and offer the viewer a good amount of depth in many shots. Detail is strong, especially when looking at the creature make-up. The grain field is minimal and natural, while blacks are deep and offer decent contrast against a vivid color pallet. Overall this is a major upgrade, especially when compared to 1982’s Basket Case which was shot on 16mm film stock.

The single audio track option is an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix and is pleasant and consistent. It’s not the kind of mix for audio demoing your new surround system, but the output is clean and clear allowing perfect balance between dialogue, sound effects, music, and the occasional mutant grunt and wheeze.

Extras Rating: ★★½☆☆

bc2_3No theatrical trailer? Boo! Regardless, Synapse has ported over the extras from their previous DVD release.

  1. The Man In The Moon Mask: An interview with “Half Moon” actor David Emge (6:19, SD) – This mostly throw away featurette offers some interesting little tidbits from an actor that you will never actually see or hear from in the film. He spent most of his time behind a huge mask and he shares some anecdotes of his experiences while on set.
  2. Beyond The Wicker: Behind-the-scenes featurette from Special Effects Make-Up Artist, Gabe Bartalos (22:34, SD) – A decent behind the scenes where Bartalos showcases some on-set video and ropes in Frank Henenlotter and producer James Glickenhaus for some anecdotal information about the films, MPAA, and Frankenhooker, another Henenlotter film.
  3. Reversible cover art with newly commissioned front piece by Joel Robinson. The back side contains the traditional artwork.

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

bc2_6On a scale of love, hate, or tolerate I suspect most consumers will fall into one of the extreme ends of the love or hate category. These movies either appeal to your weird and macabre tastes, or they don’t.

The narrative evolution of the Basket Case trilogy bears some resemblance to another popular trilogy, The Evil Dead. Not because of content or story, but because the first film was a micro budget horror film that created a gateway horror-comedy sequel that led into a looney tunes third entry. In my review of the Basket Case 3 blu-ray, you will see the similar tonal evolution between these series.

However, unlike The Evil Dead, Basket Case 2 won’t be considered the crowning jewel of the franchise, nor does it stand alone as well as Evil Dead 2. Looking at Basket Case 2 as a separate entity is mostly pointless. Can it be viewed without the original? Of course it can, but why do that? If you’re going to watch or buy Part 2, you’ll want the original. And if you’re going to buy the original, you may as well round out the collection. So yes, for those of you that appreciate tales of hideously deformed freaks with murderous appetites, I recommend Basket Case 2. And Basket Case. And Basket Case 3 for that matter. Click here to continue onto my Basket Case 3 blu-ray review.

Author

- who has written 65 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

James Dubs is a father and husband who loves his family first and movies a close second. He believes every movie is worth watching once and, as a film fan and critic, believes that even the worst movies offer something in return. His mission is to watch anything and report without pretension. Follow James Dubs on Twitter and send him suggestions on movies you would like reviewed - popular, obscure, independent, etc. He'll watch anything for you.

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