Retro Review: BASKET CASE 2 (1990)

Follow up review to the cult classic sequel – Bleeding Dead

WARNING: Contains Spoilers

Bskt Cs 2 - Cover 2Sibling rivalry is at play again in Frank Henenlotter’s sequel to his offbeat cult classic. Following immediately after the events in the original, Belial and Duane have just fallen from the window of the Hotel Broslin post their fight over rececptionist Sharon. While the twins reside at the hospital the local media is elated with the story of the two brothers, the normal looking Duane and his deformed twin Belial becoming the biggest news in the country overnight. After having seen the twins on her television their long lost Aunt, whom they call Grannie Ruth, and her daughter Susan set out to rescue them from the media chaos. As it turns Grannie Ruth owns a home for the ‘freaks’, if you will, of this world and can offer the twins a safe place away from the judging glance of the public. While Belial finds a home in the mansion as well as a love interest, Duane feels more distant from him than ever, struggling with his place in Grannie Ruth’s sanctuary for the different. All the while a hell-bent reporter is determined to do a full coverage story on the twins and is dangerously close to finding where they’ve been hiding, risking not only exposure to them but for all the others in the house.

The first film is a unique viewing experience that is a tour de force of bizarre, in that though the sequel may be just as strange. Expanding on the concept of unusual birth defects Grannie Ruth’s ‘house of freaks’ opts for an awry story about love, family, and the hounding media. The script moves at a pace, the story is casual and there’s no growing concern as to how it’s all going to end. Not to intrude it as predictable but a clear formula of a slightly unhinged Grannie Ruth plus Belial with a determined reporter makes for an easy to see outcome. The ‘freaks’ are mostly just prosthetic designs and don’t resemble any real life deformities, allowing the film to be as excessive as it likes. This includes Lorenzo the overgrown opera singing head and an ‘uncommon’ full term baby. Of course this leaves most of it to be taken with a light heart and to enjoy the ninety minute ride, mostly horror free but pronounced in eccentric.

Bskt Cs 2 - ResidentsThe acting is better with the exception of Kevin Van Hentenryck who of cours is exactly the same as he is in the first. Irrelevant though as the real stars of the film are Grannie Ruth and Belial. Annie Ross as Grannie Ruth is fun, and she seemingly embraces the over top nature of the film’s script and direction. Belial is actually more dire looking this time, as opposed to the deranged curiosity of the first, but is less interested in terrorizing his brothers personal life and more content within his new home among people like him. The puppet effects have vastly improved with Belial moving more naturally, and they’ve even managed to step it up enough to pantomime a realistic looking sex scene between two things that have no visible baby making parts. The camera work is tighter but that’s also an attribute to the budget that is nearly monstrous compared to the what they had to work with in the first.

BASKET CASE 2 is a interesting sequel to a B-film gem. In mention to the overall craft of the film it looks decent and they’ve amped up the effects. Whereas the script stays in a consistent tune of abnormality but substitues a lot of the horror for laughs. With that it lost a bit of the disillusionment that was felt whilst watching the first, as it was oh so strange and grasping the unreal plot took up most of the film’s viewing experience. As I mentioned with my review last time The Basket Case series is basically Frank Henenlotter’s career, which consists of an understanding for exploitation and underground horror. His direction and vision, though unimaginable in most minds, is thorough and amusing with his attention to detail and his eye for the weird. It’s not as classic or as memorable as the original, which mind you was never intended, but is on par with its predecessor.

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