Saturday, July 5, 2014

Basket Case (1982) Review:

The 1980s saw an explosion in the horror genre after a number of independent films were made and distributed. Films like The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Halloween (1978) and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) all worked a pushing the boundaries of peoples' morbid curiosities. Within that decade, there were productions that were critically acclaimed, universally bashed and others that received the cult labeling. Basket Case (1982) border lines the cult label. It has few elements that show that there was thought put into making the film as good as it was, the problem though was that it wasn't good enough. Some of it is very silly to a point where it's not acceptable.

Yeah,....what a fake smile
When Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) and his deformed conjoined twin are separated in their early double digits, they decide to head out and seek vengeance on the doctors that operated on them. However, this is the only clear goal that the audience receives. Director and writer Frank Henenlotter included a back-story to the two main leads but only one of them has a motivation. Later on, it's stated by Duane that he only followed his brother and accepted the plan that his brother had conceived. Viewers will also learn that their father wanted Duane’s brother killed after the operation - yet he never was. So who decided to not follow through? I don't understand.

It also turns out that the only struggle the two mentally disturbed brothers have is that when Duane ends up finding a girl he likes, his brother gets angry. So if this is a problem, why hasn't Duane done anything about it yet? The rest of the cast in this film is virtually nonexistent of professional quality. Every female has pounds and pounds of makeup on their face, any other male actor isn't memorable and the dialog ranges from boring to annoying. Along with that are numerous other issues that aren't covered completely. For example, the police investigate the murderous duo and then it's totally dropped. Another would be that these guys kill in public, using their real names. So much for subtlety.

Duane's twin is a whole different thing. First, the feeding process is already confusing. Duane's twin looks like Slimer's pale nongreen cousin from Ghost Busters (1984), and if that's the case and he is somewhat human, how does he go to the bathroom? Also why does he have rows of sharp teeth? Plus, the doctors stated when he was attached to Duane, that he wasn’t attached to any vital organs. So how is that after he was removed he still lives? Apparently he has powers that are not explained because he also has strength that is difficult for one to harness with such a small mass. This creature also has no charm, all he does is yell with a scream so ear blistering it's frustrating to watch. Some words would've been nice. On the plus side though, the shape of the character is unique and the way he was animated looked good.

No one will know who you are if you're in there
There were even some scenes that involved him being animated by stop-motion animation. It wasn't as smooth moving as to how Art Clokey or Ray Harryhausen would animate but it still was enjoyable to see. The sounds (besides Duane's twin screaming) are also enjoyable because of how disgusting they sound. This bodes well with the gore scenes, which are also quite brutal. They may not be cringe inducing but are nonetheless bloody as all get out. Bruce Torbet's cinematography is nice in some scenes, like when he gets a shot of the Twin Towers. Other than that it isn't all that special. Gus Russo's music to the film also works in some places by having a tune that sounds creepy but it doesn't last long. On the whole, it’s not that scary or funny. It could've been though with such a interesting character.

The movie has a cast as bland as its music, camera work and poor script. Unfortunately, even with the heavy violence, some thoughtful practical effects and somewhat memorable villain, it can't lift itself above mediocrity.

Points Earned --> 4:10

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