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Basket Case Reviews

This ultra-low-budget production was shot over the course of six months on location in the streets, apartments, and flophouses of New York City. It became a hit on the midnight-show circuit and is arguably one of the best horror films of the 1980s. Directed by Frank Henenlotter with as much style as is possible on a miniscule budget, the film centers on Duane (Van Hentenryck), a young man from Glens Falls, New York, who checks into a fleabag hotel on 42nd Street carrying a wicker basket. Inside the basket is his small, horribly misshapen Siamese twin, Belial. Communicating with Duane telepathically, Belial is determined to wreak vengeance on the physicians that separated him from his twin. Meanwhile, however, Duane has met a nice girl (Smith) and begun to make a life of his own, one that doesn't include Belial. Disturbing, grotesque, and very funny at times, BASKET CASE is a unique work in which imagination triumphs over the limitations of budget. Blown up to 35mm from the 16mm original, the film's grainy, cheap look only enhances the seediness of Henenlotter's milieu, while, in Belial, Henenlotter has come up with one of the most memorable and sympathetic screen monsters since KING KONG. A rather cheap-looking puppet created by Kevin Haney and John Caglione, Belial has a certain shabby charm that has endeared him to horror fans throughout the world. In a film that contains many unforgettable images, perhaps the most startling--and most moving--is a flashback to Belial's childhood, in which the monster's kindly aunt lets the mutant child sit on her lap while reading aloud to him.