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  • Writer's pictureAdam

Basket Case - 14/31 Days of Halloween

We're two weeks in, folks, and nearing the halfway point. Remember, if you have any movie suggestions or requests, you can always leave a comment, and I'll do my best.

Today's film is an odd one, to say the least. I first watched this movie and its first sequel back to back at a friend's house twenty years ago. Back then, I could have summed up my thoughts on the movie with two words: "Fucking weird." To be honest, that sentiment still stands, but can we go a little deeper? I think so.

Without any further ado, lets grab our scalpels and start cutting into 1982's Basket Case.

The film opens in the home of Dr. Lifflander as strange noises alarm him. As the noises enter his home, Lifflander tries to call for help, but the line goes dead. He retreats to his study to arm himself with a revolver and fires six rounds at his unseen assailant before he dies. After the murder a young man named Duane is walking the streets of Manhattan with a large wicker basket in his arms. After checking into a seedy, low-rent hotel, we learn through a flashback that the basket contains Duane's horribly deformed (formerly) conjoined twin brother, Belial.

The twins' mother died during child birth, and their father blamed the misshapen, mute Belial for her death. After being denied by countless doctors, the boys' father pays three doctors to perform a secret operation to separate the twins against their will. Belial is left for dead in the trash, but thanks to their telepathic link, Duane saves him. After they kill their father, the boys are raised by their aunt until she passes away.

Heartbroken and alone, the boys have embarked on a quest to track down and kill the doctors responsible for separating them. While casing the office of the second doctor, Dr. Needleman, Duane meets the doctor's secretary, Sharon, and makes plans to go on a date with her. Later that night, Belial returns to kill Needleman. After Belial steals Needleman's rolodex, the twins have their first lead on the location of Kutter, the third and final doctor. Belial becomes jealous, however, when the romance between Duane and Sharon blossoms, and the years of resentment between them comes to a head.

It's easy to dismiss this movie. Hell, I'm guilty of that myself. But despite some subpar special effects, Basket Case is actually an effective, thoughtful piece of horror and social commentary. It's not hard for the viewer to sympathize with Duane's plight, and although the brothers' relationship appears loving and rosy at first, scabs are picked and old wounds ooze. Duane cares, but everyone has their limits. Unfortunately for Duane and Sharon, Belial has limits of his own.

Belial is presented in two ways onscreen. Most of the time, we see him as a puppet, with closeups of his misshapen hands controlled the director himself via gloves. This effect doesn't work, and we're led to believe Belial is using inhuman strength to strangle his victims when in fact he's just pawing at them ineffectively. When Belial is seen moving about the room, stop motion is utilized, but the effect is laughable and unforgivably jerky. It's hard to take the evil twin seriously, especially when his eyes begin to glow red. Get it!? He's eeeeeeeeeeevil.

Despite the visual effects flaws, there's a lot of good stuff here. Basket Case is far better than it deserves to be. Whether the sequels hold up as well... I don't know. Maybe that's something to explore in next year's marathon. My recommendation? Give it a shot.

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