Release Date(s)1990 (August 9, 2016)
Studio(s)Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment (Synapse Films)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: D
Basket Case 2 is the sequel to the original splatter classic Basket Case about a young man named Duane and his deformed twin brother Belial, the latter of whom lives in a wicker basket and occasionally comes out of it to murder people. Released in 1990, Basket Case 2 continues their story, picking up mere moments after the first film ends. When Duane and Belial are hospitalized and under heavy media scrutiny, they are secretly whisked away by a woman named Ruth who, along with her assistant Susan, privately care for a group of shunned deformed people. But when a nosey reporter begins sniffing Duane and Belial out, it’s up to them and their new friends to fight for their privacy.
While some fans feel that Basket Case 3: The Progeny is better by comparison, there are still plenty of aspects about Basket Case 2 worth appreciating. Whereas the original film is a lot grittier and much purer in a production sense, its sequel is a little bit slicker, but no less weird. It also made use of a nearly $3 million dollar budget, as opposed to the first film which was made for very little comparably. All of that production value is definitely on the screen. There are some absolutely wonderful prosthetic make-up effects, as well as some wonderful lighting and color schemes. And at a lean 90 minutes, the movie is very brisk, flying by with almost no effort whatsoever. Story-wise, it’s not quite as straightforward as the first film. It has a good beginning and a very strong ending, but the middle portion of the film tends to be the least-interesting.
Basket Case 2 also feels like a completely new direction for the series after the story of the first film, more so than simply a continuation. Technically, there weren’t many directions a story like Basket Case could go without coming off as cheap or as a cash-grab of some sort, but always leave it to Frank Henenlotter to do something creative and different. All of the horror comedy elements are still there, but this time around, it’s a different kind of focus on Duane and Belial’s relationship. While Duane is feeling the need to escape from his brother and lead a normal life, Belial is too busy falling in love with one of the freaks named Eve. Mix that with the other freaks and the reporter attempting to exploit and sensationalize on Duane and Belial’s whereabouts, and you have a story that’s not exactly tightly focused, but has a few more options to choose from. Obviously, the whole ballgame with the Basket Case series is the splatter aspect. While this movie doesn’t fully deliver on that, it still has some great bloody moments for the fans. It’s worth the effort, that’s for sure. Keen-eyed folks might want watch out for the original Dawn of the Dead’s David Emge, who shows up under heavy make-up playing one of the freaks, as well as the newspaper editor, played by Jason Evers, who starred in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. They even go as far as having a newspaper clipping framed on the wall behind him which says “Woman’s Severed Head Lives”, complete with a picture of “Jan in the Pan”.
Synapse Films’ Blu-ray release features a transfer that’s taken straight from the film’s original 35mm camera negative, and the results are quite rewarding. It’s a very organic-appearing presentation with grain levels that are extremely even with a vast amount of fine detail and texturing, especially on the prosthetics. I was surprised at the depth the presentation had at times. Colors are also quite striking with some very nice skin tones, deep blacks, and excellent brightness and contrast levels. There’s almost no film damage leftover either, other than some very mild speckling and an occasional weak spot in the frame. The soundtrack, which is an English 2.0 DTS-HD track, features crystal-clear dialogue with a strong score and excellent sound effects. While not being overtly spatial, there’s plenty of atmosphere and weight to the soundtrack without being overbearing. It complements the film well. There are no subtitle options offered, but there are a couple of extras carried over from Synapse’s previous DVD release, including The Man in the Moon Mask, which is an interview with actor David Emge, and Beyond the Wicker, a behind-the-scenes featurette.
Basket Case 2 is a fun sequel in a very bizarre series. That is, bizarre by the very fact that it exists at all. Frank Henenlotter shows a lot of his creativity with this one, and while I prefer some of his other work over it, the Basket Case series is not to be overlooked, nor is Synapse Films’ terrific Blu-ray release. And with such a beautiful transfer, it’s just begging to acquire some new blood.
- Tim Salmons