Basket Case: Limited Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Arrow Films
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (5th March 2018).
The Film

I can recall seeing this grind core delight way back in the days of videotape and being suitably impressed with its filmed-on-the-cheap gaudy delights, but now with Arrow’s brand new 4k restoration from the original 16mm negative supplied from the Museum of Modern Arts archive, I can actually see all the grime that came with Duane’s (Kevin Van Hentenryck) rental room 7 in the Hotel Broslin.

It’s amazing that this film even got made in the first place and it harkens back to the days of drive-in’s and creature double features, but thanks to the efforts of Frank Henenlotter, we can sit back and enjoy a trip back in time to the Deuce of old! For us old timers that can recall, this film was produced on a shoestring budget ($35,000) and Henenlotter was proud to be associated with the likes of early sleaze pioneer filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis and this was his notorious film debut. He would follow it up with another gem, "Brain Damage" (1988) featuring a talking parasite named Elmer and voiced by horror host John Zacherle. 1990 saw the release of "Frankenhooker" with a bigger budget but featuring the same low brow charms and in 2008 was the release of "Bad Biology", featuring a woman with several clitoris’ and a man with a drug addicted penis. It seems to me that the director is a tad obsessed with the human body and the more unfortunate side effects of drug addiction and birth defects. Perfect grind house source material!

Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck), fresh off the bus from upstate Glens Fall, lands in New York City and walks through the cesspool that once was 42nd Street and witnesses in all of its neon decorated glory the depraved displays of peep shows, strip shows and adult bookstores that once populated the Deuce. He makes his way to the Hotel Broslin and checks in with nothing more than his backpack and a wicker hamper under his arm. The hotel features many assorted characters including sex worker Casey (Beverly Bonner) and the cheerless hotel manager on duty (Robert Vogel); we soon learn that Duane is a man on a mission and that it concerns the hungry entity in the basket, Belial. Through a series of flashbacks, we see that Belial once was the monstrous Siamese twin that was originally attached to Duane’s side, and in a scene that is hilarious for its low budget charm, we are witness to the traumatic separation that occurs in Duane’s dining room, now converted into an make shift operating room. The twin appendage is rudely discarded in a green trash bag, but the brothers are able to psychically communicate via telepathy, and Duane is summoned by his brother to retrieve his lost brother. Later that night Duane’s father (Richard Pierce) is awoken to the sounds of hammering coming from the basement and upon inspecting the scene, he is dispatched with a large saw and cut into two pieces. Duane and his conjoined twin are naturally seeking revenge on the doctor’s that performed the operation in the big apple while taking in the scenes, all shot on the cheap, of course. First up is Dr. Lifflander’s (Bill Freeman) house and then after a visit to Dr. Needleman’s (Lloyd Pace) office, with some romance with the bewigged receptionist, Sharon (Terri Susan Smith), Belial is starting to get impatient for results. Left in the basket while Duane sneaks off for some sightseeing on the sly, Belial creates a rumpus in the hotel room by destroying the television that Duane bought him, screaming at the top of his lungs while being charmingly stop motion animated by director Henenlotter. These scenes are all part of the charm of the production at hand and the unique craftsmanship of Belial, a lump of non-flexible latex with some large clawed hands, results in several blood sprayed scenes that are surprisingly effective, with the veterinarian Dr. Kutter’s (Diana Browne) face being forced into the operating tool drawer resulting in a blood sprayed close up of her face. You can just imagine how this must have busted up the audiences on the grind houses on 42nd street back in the day.

This is a low budget film and it shows, but the plot tries to be effective with Van Hentenryck trying to display some effective acting as he emotes to essentially what is a puppet on a stick. The over-the-top ending has Belial on display of the now familiar neon sign of the Hotel Broslin with his brother desperately trying to hang on for his life by one hand till they both plunge to the street below. For a ridiculous wafer thin plot, "Basket Case" looks pretty good considering that it was made for a song back in the glory days of the exploitation film. Considering how bad the film looked on the original video tape transfer of the 80’s, this Blu-ray production seems none too shabby and Arrow should be proud of how overall outstanding this production seems.

All in all Frank Henenlotter should be proud of this excellent exploitation film. With an excellent cast, interesting score, decent cinematography and good use of on location photography. Henenlotter’s film also scores some major points for this gore hound reviewer. Several scenes tend to stick in one’s mind days after viewing the film and a large part of it is due to Kevin Van Hentenryck’s sympathetic performance of a man torn between his brother’s need for revenge and his own mixed feelings as a suffering human being caught in the middle. This film has been made available previously from Something Weird Video and the Image label but this is the production that scores the highest as far as extras, excellent transfer and overall value. Next time you have a party, throw this disc on and watch the jaws drop as people stop dead in their tracks wondering what the hell they are watching.


Presented in 1.33:1 full screen, mastered in HD 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression, the picture is very good with the colors being bold and without any blurring, flesh tones are well represented and blacks are strong and clear.


A single English LPCM 1.0 mono track is included, the audio is a tad tinny at times and reveals the source weakness of the track. The soundtrack is clear and dialogue is clearly presented as well. Optional subtitles are in English for the hearing impaired.


There's a ton of extras, starting with a brand new audio commentary with writer/director Frank Henenlotter and star Kevin Van Hentenryck runs the length of the film. An excellent listen for fans of the film.

There's also a second archival audio commentary by writer/director Frank Henenlotter, producer Edgar Ievins, actress Beverly Bonner, and filmmaker Scooter McRae. This is an older track, but still worth checking out.

"Basket Case 3-1/2" is an interview with Duane Bradley – Frank Henenlotter, he revisits the character Duane Bradley decades after the events of the original "Basket Case", it's a strange interview with the star and runs for 8 minutes 30 seconds.

"Seeing Double: The Basket Case Twins" – a brand new interview with Florence and Mary Ellen Schultz, the twin nurses from "Basket Case", be freckled twins and cousins of the director, runs for 8 minutes 56 seconds.

"Me and the Bradley Boys" is an interview with Kevin Van Hentenryck, runs for 16 minutes 23 seconds.

"A Brief Interview with Director Frank Henenlotter", is an interview, a dumb interview with a naked man pretending to be Henenlotter, runs for 3 minutes 48 seconds.

"The Latvian Connection" are interviews with producer>Edgar Ievins, casting person/actress Ilze Balodis, associate producer/effects artist Ugis Nigals and Belial performer Kika Nigals, these are crew members that are Latvian, runs for 27 minutes 34 seconds.

"Blood, BASKET and Beyond" is an interview with actress Beverly Bonner, runs for 6 minutes 4 seconds.

"Belial Goes to the Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs", featurette features the infamous film critic talking about his earliest recollections of seeing "Basket Case", runs for 6 minutes 55 seconds.

"Basket Case at MoMA" featurette, is a short featuring a screening of the film at MoMA and includes a Q&A with the director and some of the cast, runs for 37 minutes 12 seconds.

"What’s in the Basket?" is a full length documentary featuring the making of all three "Basket Case" films, runs for 78 minutes 41 seconds.

"In Search of the Hotel Broslin", featurette is a short made in 2001 when some locations still existed, the set was actually built in a loft, runs for 16 minutes 7 seconds.

"Basket Case" outtakes are included and runs for 6 minutes 13 seconds.

"The Frisson of Fission" is a video essay by Travis Crawford, a short featuring a brief history regarding conjoined twins in cinema, runs for 23 minutes 3 seconds.

There are four still galleries that include:

- "Behind-the-Scenes"
- "Ephemera"
- "Advertising"
- "Home Video Releases"

"Slash of the Knife", is a rare short film from 1972 made by Frank Henenlotter, the film is regarding uncircumcised men, runs for 30 minutes 13 seconds. The short can be viewed with an optional audio commentary by director Frank Henenlotter. Additionally included are a series of outtakes which runs for 5 minutes 30 seconds as well as a collection of photos in an image gallery.

"Belial’s Dream" is a "Basket Case" inspired animated short film by Robert Morgan, which runs for 4 minutes 49 seconds, the short can also be viewed with an optional audio commentary with Robert Morgan.

"Making 'Belial’s Dream'" is a short featurette about the making of the short film and runs for 2 minutes 6 seconds.

The disc also features a few theatrical trailers:

- "1st Midnight Movie" theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 34 seconds.
- "General Release" theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 28 seconds.
- "2nd General Release" theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 50 seconds.

A single TV spot runs for 55 seconds and a single radio spot runs for 1 minute 51 seconds.


Presented in a standard Blu-ray case housed in a slip-cover.


The Film: A Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: A+ Overall: A-


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