Carrying a mysterious wicker basket around with him, Duane Bradley arrives
in Manhattan and checks into a sleazy Times Square hotel. What's in the
basket, you ask? Why, Duane's hideously misshapen Siamese twin brother,
Belial, of course! Originally born attached to Duane's side, the little
monster was surgically removed by some quack doctors and rudely left for
dead in a plastic garbage bag. But Belial survived, and Duane has hit the
Big Apple with his beastly bro to wreak havoc on the surgeons who separated
in the basket... easter eggs?"
The ultimate paradox in movies, Basket Case is a grainy-pictured,
clumsily shot film with almost no production values to speak of, that manages
to be one of the greatest movies of all time (but admittedly not one that
anybody not seriously fond of horror movies is likely to find rewarding).
In fact, even though it reportedly only had a budget of $35,000, there
is so much genius in here that the roughshod craftsmanship cannot, I believe,
be the result of lack of skill but a deliberate taking of the 'rough' look
that has given films like the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre their
'documentary' type of feel to the extreme, creating something on screen
that does not even look like a movie, but... something else. Not quite
a documentary feel even, but kind of a dark vision where the technical
flaws don't matter, any more than the wide gaps of logic in a particularly
vivid nightmare matter.
Graced with the most instantly disturbing tagline of all time (best when
read slowly): "Duane Bradley's brother is very small, very twisted, very
mad, and he lives in a basket... until night comes!", that brother is Belial
Bradley, the most horrific, one of the most violent and yet one of the
most sympathetic monsters the world's storytelling has ever produced. A
former Siamese twin to Duane, Belial's been victimized by nature but many
more times over by humanity and the fates his life has taken since his
violent birth, producing the most driven, most tragic, and most bizarre
horror nemesis of all time. And yet he's compelling, empathisable, even...lovable?...like
there's a charming Stitch/Gon-like beast buried alive deep under the pain
and scars that have driven this creature to strike back at his adversaries
in viciously gory fashion. Unfortunately, as is the risk with revenge,
the chance is always present that once the oppressed starts retaliating
against his enemies, he'll be consumed by his vengeance and destroy the
innocent as well.
Basket Case is open to interpretation. Everyone I've ever talked
to who has also seen the movie has, to varying degrees, perceived both
Belial's actions and certain of his motives in different ways than I have.
There's one scene in particular, which I can't be specific about because
it's near the film's end, where I see it 180 degrees differently than everybody
else. Depending on your personal take on the movie, Belial can even be
seen as much less of a tragic creature and an avenger gone berserk, than
as a paragon of raw evil. There are very small, seemingly random happenings
in the movie that seem to me personally to have much greater significance
than they might appear to on the surface. There are at least 3 equally
plausible explanations to what is really happening in certain incidences.
I wish I could be less vague, but to really explain what I suspect would
take a pages-long play-by-play, and that would obviously give way too much
away. One thing is for certain though - this is a one-of-a-kind horror
experience. Not even the sequels (which in my opinion are just as outstanding
but in quite different ways) come close to duplicating the vibe of this
movie. Nothing ever could.
- The film crew was allowed to film inside a run-down Times Square
hotel as long as they didn't reveal the actual name of the place, to avoid
New York Health officials from investigating the poor living conditions.
- Since the crew only consisted of three or four people, many of
the names in the credits are fictitious.
- Released August 31, 1983 in France.
- The hotel Broslin doesn't actually exist and the main lobby parts
were filmed in a propped-open service elevator in Franklin St, New York.
The scene at the end where Duane and Belial are hanging from the hotel
Broslin sign was actually filmed on an exterior building downtown on Hubert
St. All the interior shots were shot on several other locations mainly
friends' houses, etc.
- Filmed in Glens Falls, New York, USA.
- When Duane checks into the Hotel Broslin he takes out a wad of
cash. According to Frank Henenlotter, the film's director, this was the
film's entire budget.