The Basket Case trilogy is one of the most underrated collections of horror movies you’ll ever encounter. I mean, just listen to the concept set-forth in the first installment:
Duane, a shy but friendly young man, carries a wicker basket with him wherever he goes. No one is sure why he does, or even what’s in the basket, but what they DO know that whatever it is, it growls and eats hamburgers. As it turns out, the thing in the basket is really Duane’s amputated Siamese-twin, Belial, who is nothing more than a blob-like head and torso with claws and very sharp teeth. Duane and Belial spend the bulk of the film seeking vengeance on the doctors who separated them.
How can that NOT peak your interest? The movie is very low-budget, but the poor quality of the picture and sound lends it a gritty atmosphere that makes the scares all the more effective. Belial-himself remains a creepy mystery within the wicker basket for the first half of the film, only being seen as a pair of eyes peeking out through the lid, or as a disembodied ruckus of growling and screaming.
The movie’s major moment of questionable quality, which takes it from “frightening” to “hilarious” in under a second, is when they finally show you Belial in all his stop-motion…uh…”glory”. And my god is it some terrible stop-motion. The Saturday morning adventures of Gumby and Pokey are more technically sound than the sequence in which stop-motion Belial starts throwing chairs around. Thankfully, the stop-motion was limited mostly to just that scene, and Belial is seen through the rest of the film as a gruesome puppet, tearing out people’s throats.
Another interesting thing to note about this movie: Ugliest Collection of Human Beings on the Face of the Planet. At least outside of a leper colony, anyway. Seriously, it’s like the cast was assembled from the ugly kids that were in your high school drama class who had dreams of Hollywood stardom but you KNEW they’d never make it because they were too ugly. And you probably laughed at them. Well, that’s what these people are. Sure, they can act pretty good, but some of them are about as grotesque as the screaming blob in the wicker basket.
But then, that also adds to the “grittiness-factor” and what-not. And this film is DAMN gritty-looking. You might need a shower afterward.
Anyway, Basket Case has a clever concept, some truly frightening-looking people, a fantastic atmosphere and (when he’s not arm-wrestling the Sumatran Rat-Monkey for stop-motion dominance) Belial is one of the better horror movie monsters out there and the series is an entertaining alternative to the more mainstream franchises. Truly an underrated classic.
I give it a B-. The sequels were equally good in different ways (though remarkably more tongue-in-cheek) and had better effects to boot. You’ll want to check them out, too.