Monday, August 26, 2019

Phil’s Horror Watch: BASKET CASE (1982) from Arrow Video - August 14, 2019


Starring Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner, Robert Vogel, Diana Browne, Lloyd Pace, Bill Freeman, Joe Clarke
Screenplay by Frank Henenlotter
Cinematography by Bruce Torbet
Edited by Frank Henenlotter
Produced by Arnold H. Bruck (as Arnie Bruck), Tom Kaye, Edgar Ievins
Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Originally released by Analysis Film Releasing Corporation
Re-released by Arrow Video

Welcome back horror fans to another edition of Phil's Horror Watch. For today's cinematic fright flick, I thought it would be fun to stroll down memory lane and visit the old grindhouse theaters that populated New York's 42nd Street. There, you could see some of the most outrageous films ever made! Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong decade. I would have love to see many of the film I have watched on Blu-Ray or on DVD up on the big screen. Just imagine walking around The Deuce, looking up at all the marquees, seeing what's playing, then buying a ticket to watch a movie and wonder what the hell am I watching! Take for example today's film. I guarantee that you have never seen a film like BASKET CASE before, nor could you ever forget it!

The film's official synopsis: Duane Bradley is a pretty ordinary guy. His formerly conjoined twin Belial, on the other hand, is a deformed, fleshy lump whom he carries around in a wicker basket. Arriving in the Big Apple and taking up a room at the seedy Hotel Broslin, the pair set about hunting down and butchering the surgeons responsible for their separation. But tensions flare up when Duane starts spending time with a pretty blonde secretary, and Belial’s homicidal tendencies reach bloody new extremes.

Now doesn't that sound like a fun film to watch in a 42nd street grindhouse theater? Well guess what? It DID play at a 42nd street grindhouse theater! Budgeted at only $35,000, the film was released by Analysis Film Releasing Corporation in April of 1982, but it gained a cult following once it was released onto home video by the mid 80's. The special effects for Belial consist largely of a puppet in some scenes and stop motion in others, which only added to the magic and the allure of the film.

Original Theatrical Poster (1982)
The film was written and directed by Frank Henenlotter, and it was his feature length debut. Henenlotter would go on to direct other cult classics such as BRAIN DAMAGE, FRANKENHOOKER, and two sequels: BASKET CASE 2 and BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY. He also directed the documentaries  HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE and THAT'S SEXPLOITATION! (both for Something Weird Video). He also did the audio commentary for FUGITIVE GIRLS along with Ed Wood biographer Rudolph Grey.

Arrow Video did a tremendous job with this release! It boasts a brand new 4K restoration from the original 16mm negative by MoMA )Museum of Modern Art), a High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation, Original Uncompressed Mono Audio, and Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck, which looks awesome!

Then there's the Special Features, which are both phenomenal and plentiful: Brand new audio commentary with writer/director Frank Henenlotter and star Kevin Van Hentenryck, BASKET CASE 3-1/2: An Interview with Duane Bradley – Frank Henenlotter revisits Duane Bradley decades after the events of the original Basket Case, Seeing Double: The Basket Case Twins – a brand new interview with Florence and Maryellen Schultz, the twin nurses from Basket Case, Brand new making-of featurette containing new interviews with producer Edgar Ievins, casting person/actress Ilze Balodis, associate producer/effects artist Ugis Nigals and Belial performer Kika Nigals, Blood, BASKET and Beyond – a brand new interview with actress Beverly Bonner, Belial Goes to the Drive-In – a brand new interview with film critic Joe Bob Briggs, Outtakes Featurette, In Search of the Hotel Broslin – archive location featurette, SLASH OF THE KNIFE (1972) – short film by Frank Henenlotter, Belial’s Dream (2017, 5 mins) – brand new Basket Case-inspired animated short by filmmaker Robert Morgan, Behind-the-scenes of Belial’s Dream, Extensive Still Galleries, Trailers, TV Spots and Radio Spots! *whew* Holy crap that's a lot of special features!

BASKET CASE is a true bona fide cult classic, a grindhouse classic, a horror film classic, and still one helluva fun ride to watch! Take from me folks. Horror, B-movies, and exploitation films are my main passions in life, and I can assure you that this film is just awesome to watch! And thanks to Arrow Video, the film looks exquisite, contains astounding special features, and is required for any horror fans film library! This is a must-own release!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

BASKET CASE is available on Blu-Ray from Arrow Video. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit the Diabolik DVD website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

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