Friday, October 9, 2009

"What's in the Basket?"

I know that I've talked about 80's Horror as being all about physical effects. Computer Generated Images didn't get much more complicated than "Donkey Kong" in 1982. So it was up to folks like Tom Savini, Rob Bottin and Rick Baker to create believable prosthetic horror effects for increasingly sophisticated (in the broadest of terms) audiences. And that mostly be cause of prosthetic genius Dick Smith, who practically invented latex prosthetics.

Then there are guys like Frank Caglione, Jr. Who? Well, he was the Makeup FX designer on a twisted little movie from Frank Henenlotter. Who? Hmm... how to explain Henenlotter. I suppose only by talking about his most infamous film, Basket Case.

I saw Basket Case on VHS, probably in 1984 or 1985 (my God, Adam was hot!). Movies weren't released to home video quite as soon as they are today, and underground hits that only played Time Square took even longer.

The movie opens with a country doctor (we know he's a doctor because of the files and black bag) under attacked by a green-skinned, four-clawed something that shreds his face. Next, cute country boy Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) walks around pre-Giulliani Times Square with a rather large wicker basket and promptly checks into a flop-house:

What? Duane has the Country Doctor's blood-stained file folder? Whatever for?

Well, I'll tell you. Turns out that Duane was born with a conjoined twin. A deformed conjoined twin, who was cruelly ripped from his brother's side when they were children. And in case you were wondering, that's what's in the basket - Duane's deformed, green-skined, four-clawed brother Belial. And they are actually in the Big Apple to wreak revenge upon the team of doctors who tore them asunder. Yes, that is actually the plot of Basket Case, as twisted as it may be. Anyway, Duane falls in love with one of the doctor's receptionists, Belial gets jealous, disaster ensues. Here's the full trailer, which hints at one of movie's funniest effects, involving a rigged tablesaw and timing that has to be seen to be believed:

And before I even talk about the sequels (yes, more than one), I think you need to see more Henenlotter. Like this trailer for Brain Damage:

And how about 1990's Frankenhooker?

As you can see, not a whole lot of money is ever really spent on effects in a Henenlotter movie. And his actors could never be accused of being talented. And his plots, dialogue and continuity may leave a lot to be desired. Yet they remain enormously entertaining in some bizarre way I can't really describe.

Now, I've seen both Brain Damage and Frankenhooker, but have not had the chance to see either of the Basket Case sequels. But while researching clips for this post, I came across this bizarre (and admittedly out-of-context) scene from Basket Case 3: The Progeny. I'm not sure I really want to know what's going on in this scene. I just know that I love its insanity like a son.

Tomorrow, my review of the movie I've been waiting two years to see, Trick 'r Treat.

More terrors, anon.

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