Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Basket Case 2 (1990)

It's that time of year again. October. Perfect month to review some horror classics. I'd love to be able to do a write-up every day but, let's face it, that's not gonna happen. Every other day is a bit more likely I suppose (if you're lucky). Let's start things off with a sequel to one of the greatest films ever made that isn't called Starship Troopers. Yep, I'm clearly referring to Basket Case. I'm positive you've all seen it by now since I wrote about it this past May. Remember? Duane and his brother Belial, that little basket-living, telepathy loving, burger scarfing, face-ripping blob. 'Member him? When last we saw our heroes, they were hanging for their lives from a sign outside their window at a seedy Times Square hotel. Things were looking pretty bleak. Duane was not a happy camper after his mutant blob-like brother raped his girlfriend to death. It seemed his struggle for normalcy would carry him and his little (stature-wise) bro to their graves.

Well, this picture begins exactly where the first one left off. Duane and Belial fall to the ground below and are whisked away to the hospital. Suddenly, the two brothers find themselves fodder for the tabloids, but luckily Granny Ruth and her...ahem...normal daughter Susan come to the rescue and bring them to their secluded Staten Island mansion. Granny Ruth (long ago, given the tabloid-ascribed name of "Dr. Freak"), has a thing for abnormals. You might say, she's hiding several in her attic. Actually, there's no might about it. In her house you'll find such diverse characters as "man with 27 noses", worm man, half moon, frog boy, huge arthur, toothy, Eve-the Belial loving blob, etc ad nauseum. The creature designs are fantastically grotesque. Why fanboys weren't jizzing over the introduction of the freaks (like they did over that scene in Hellboy 2) as reminiscent of the Mos Eisley Cantina is, well, actually pretty fucking obvious. It's not a cantina first of all. Secondly, I'm not sure any of them saw this movie at the time it came out. Thirdly, no internet. Fourth....lost my train of thought. Anyway, Eve, like Belial is a disgusting blob of a creature, albeit with a much prettier face. In this environment the tables are turned on poor Duane. His brother is now the normal one. Hell, he even forms a fast moving (slow down little guy!) relationship with Eve while Duane sets his sights on Susan and, more importantly to him, escape from this world of freaks and, especially, his overly dependent brother.

This is a great fucking follow up, but I'll be honest. I was not happy that Frank Henelotter abandoned the crappy stop motion that was so charming in the first movie. Here, Belial is realized using animatronics. While I suppose he looks better from an aesthetic point of view, he's lost a bit of that cutsey otherworldliness that made him a bit more sympathetic (hell, he was absolutely endearing) in the first one. Also, he got fucking bigger. He's huge, ripped, stacked. I think he's been working out. The other thing that was a bit distracting was the time frame. This movie starts on the night that part one ended. Yet, part one was filmed nine years earlier. New York City and, in particular, Times Square changed immensely in that time. The cars were different, the marquees were different, the seediness was waning. Still, these are minor flaws which are immediately swept to the back of the mind as soon as we encounter the house of freaks.

The brilliance of this film is evident in the scathing treatment of the tabloids, a move that predates that Mel Gibson picture Paparazzi by over a decade. Kathryn Meisle plays a scum bag reporter named Marcie who discovers the whereabouts of Duane and Belial. They may be wanted for several murders but Marcie could give a shit about that. She's more interested in the seven figures that would come with breaking the story and ruining several lives in the process. Of course, this leads to a great scene where Granny Ruth rallies the troops with a motivational speech (think William Wallace) filled with lines like "the wolves are once again at the door. Our rights are being invaded by sideshow mentality." I was pleased to learn that not all freaks advocate violence when she soothingly tells some that it's ok to sit this one out if you're philosophically opposed to bloodshed. I tried to figure out which ones took a pass. To me, it seemed like they were all in on it. Although, Belial was the only one doing any face ripping really.

Why the hell did it take 9 years to make this sequel? For fucks sake man, it's a great story that needs to be told. Immediately after finishing this one, I added Basket Case 3: The Progeny to my netflix queue and moved it to the front. Part 2 is not quite as trashy as the first one, not nearly as bloody. It actually looks like a real movie with a few dollars behind it. Unfortunately, only a couple nearly obscured breasts, that I could tell, make an appearence. Kevin Van Hentynryck (Duane) has gotten much better as an actor over the years and manages to say most of his lines with a straight face, like this one to the tabloid reporter just before Belial goes all Belial on her: "He figured you could ask him a few questions, get to know him a little bit. Then he could rip your face off. No big deal." This leads to the picture's greatest shock moment.

Not much else to say my friend. Belial gets to have disgustingly sloppy mutant sex with Eve. I thought she grabbed his member at one point, but I'm pretty sure it was just a tumorous mass and it might have been his own hand doing the grabbing. Hard to tell what's going on when a couple of bulbous masses are doing the nasty. Thankfully, for Duane, Belial doesn't feel the need to bone his girlfriend (guess that would be Susan) in this one before Duane gets to have a go at her. I don't think Duane's ever really forgiven the little bastard for that move. He's still dealing with the blue balls that have lingered since that part one debacle. There are a few minor scares, the flash photgraphy scene in an attic full of freaks comes to mind. Annie Ross is terrific as Granny Ruth who, I guess, doubles as a psychiatrist. Belial on the couch elicited a laugh. "I understand your pain Belial, but ripping the faces off of people might not be in your best interest." Of course, the old bitch doesn't really heed her advice to the little guy as she later goes into full ripping-off-faces advocacy mode (at least where the press is involved). Hypocrite.

Amazingly, Duane is able to carry the story (amongst a bunch of freaks). It's good thing for him that Susan is completely normal, right? Think again. She's the biggest freak in the house. Let's just say she's not a virgin, she was knocked up six years ago, and she's yet to give birth. Fuck, I spoiled another one. Happy October you bitches.

1 comment:

Beepy said...

Oh, so it's true. There really is someone for everyone. Unless you're the guy in the Hatchet movie reviewed a couple of days ago. Although even he wasn't completely alone because he had the mannequin.