CASE (director/writer: Frank
Henenlotter; cinematographer: Bruce Torbet;
editor: Frank Henenlotter; music: Gus Russo;
cast: Kevin Van
Hentenryck (Duane Bradley), Terri Susan
Smith (Sharon), Beverly Bonner (Casey),
Lloyd Pace (Dr. Harold Needleman), Diana
Browne (Dr. Kutter, veterinarian), Ruth
Neuman (Aunt), Richard Pierce (Mr Bradley),
Robert Vogel (Hotel Manager),
Joe Clarke (O'Donovan),
Bill Freeman (Dr.
Lifflander); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: R;
producer: Edgar Levens;
Something Weird Video; 1982)
"Delicious offbeat tongue-in-cheek humor."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Henenlotter's ("Brain Damage"/"Frankenhooker"/"Basket
Case 2") first
film is a cult indie freak-show horror pic, that was
shot on 16mm and cost about $160,000 to make. Though crudely made and the
photography is grainy, it offers delicious offbeat
tongue-in-cheek humor, fulfills the requirement of the
genre's need for gross-out sequences and almost by
sleight of hand makes the lead freaks sympathetic
though depicted as dangerous anti-social characters.
There's one memorable murder where a screaming
veterinarian has five scalpels stuck in her
The polite hick 20-year-old Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) arrives from his upstate hometown to check into a dumpy Times Square hotel and instead of being the vic is the one on the attack. Duane carries with him plenty of dough and a mysterious large wicker basket that contains Belial, his deformed tiny Siamese twin. The lad is on a revenge mission to get even with three quack doctors in the city who eight years ago performed a slipshod operation separating the brothers, leaving an ugly scar on Duane's side and dumping Belial's supposedly dead body in a trash bag and tossing him in the garbage until rescued by Duane. The brothers communicate telepathically, giving them a strong bond that keeps them alienated from others. The monster, looking like a sculptured latex blob with a large beastly head and with arms that have claws for hands, stays in the basket because his appearance is so hideous it frightens others. The monster has a craving for large amounts of junk food, which is taken care of by the attentive Duane. The normal looking brother takes care of Belial ever since the death of their kindly aunt (Ruth Neuman), who raised them after their nasty father's untimely and brutal death (he was sawed in half by a chain-saw).
After Belial uses his claws
to rip out the throat of Dr. Lifflander (Bill
visits the quack Dr. Needleman (Lloyd
Pace) in his seedy office and
is picked up by the aggressive horny receptionist,
Susan Smith). When Duane goes on a
date with Sharon to see the city landmarks, the
jealous Belial, fearful he's losing his caretaker
sibling to a stranger goes on a deadly temper tantrum.
The obscure campy horror
pic might not know how to end its story without some
over-the-top cheesy gore, but it wonderfully brings
back realistic nostalgic memories when Times Square
was a bustling seedy area inhabited by colorful
marginal characters and shows that it's not a reach to
realize that a visit to a flophouse Times Square hotel
can actually bring on a nightmare. The acting is fine,
especially by a convincing Van
Hentenryck in the lead role. Also in
supporting roles, the beleaguered 'seen it
all' hotel manager (Robert
a pip and Beverly
Bonner gets under the skin of her
prostitute character's cliched heart of
make her character have some depth.
There were two inferior sequels made: Basket Case 2 and Basket Case 3: The Progeny.
REVIEWED ON 9/19/2011 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ