Considered by many as one of the finest splatterpunk horrors of the 80s, the original Basket Case is a bizarrely grotesque tale of revenge played out against the backdrop of the seedy underbelly of New York City. The debut feature from the twisted mind of director Frank Henenlotter, Basket Case tells the tale of Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck), a young man who, along with his hideously deformed Siamese twin Belial, seeks revenge on the doctors who separated them when they were just children. Veering between comedy, gore and gross out horror, Basket Case is the sort of low budget cult classic that horror afflianados discuss in the same hushed tones as Reanimator and Evil Dead. The two sequels, which see Duane and Belial teaming up with other freaks to take out meddling journalists and sadistic cops, were less well known, but follow the same bloody blueprint that won the original so many fans. Now Second Sight are happy to announce the release of a Blu Ray collection of this renowned trilogy, featuring the first appearance of Basket Case 2 and 3 on this format as well as an all new documentary detailing the making of the three films.
Reviewing the Blu ray transfer of a film such as the first Basket Case almost seems redundant; the C movie aesthetic and harshly lit, grainy footage is considered by fans as much a part of the film’s charm as the over the top gore, stonky FX and terrible acting. Although the exterior shots still look pretty grim the interiors are a lot cleaner than previous versions of the film, and overall the picture is much clearer than in the previous iterations of the film. Audio is similarly hit and miss, which again this is less to do with the conversion and more the quality of the original stock, but overall this is the best Henelotter’s most famous work has ever looked and sounded. The second and third films fare a bit better given their bigger budget productions, and both are solid transfers.
With regards to extras, the two big draws are the documentary ‘What’s In The Basket?’, a making of which covers all three films, and an interview with Graham Humphreys, the legendary film poster artist whose previous works include the UK posters for Evil Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street and, of course, Basket Case. The making of weighs in at an hour and twenty minutes and is a must see for any fan of the films, chocked full of information with Henelotter in particular enthusing on the process for all three pictures. The Humphreys interview focuses more on his career as a whole, but is still very interesting and well worth a watch. The remaining features are all lifted from the 2011 Blu ray release of Basket Case, and include a commentary for the first film with Henenlotter, Beverly Bonner (prostitute Casey) and producer Edgar Ievins and various out-takes and stills. While the first disc is packed with extras the other two films feel a little undressed in comparison, and it would have been nice to see the devotion of the fans, many of whom will likely end up owning both this collection and the 2011 Blu Ray, provided with a little more reward.
For those who already own the Basket Case stand alone Blu-Ray, it may be difficult to convince them to part with an additional £25 for two transfers and a pair of documentaries, but for fans who are yet to upgrade to this format, or horror junkie searching for a new title to add to the collection, the Basket Case trilogy is well worth picking up.