Basket Case 2 (1990)

Basket Case 2 (1990)
  • Time: 90 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Horror
  • Director: Frank Henenlotter
  • Cast: Kevin VanHentenryck, Beverly Bonner, Annie Ross


Charming country bumpkin Duane Bradley takes a motel room in New York with no other luggage than a basket. In a flash back-series we learn it contains his surgically removed Siamese twin who is not only physically deformed so badly the doctors hesitated to consider him a human, but is also the vindictive drive of their trip, with the purpose to kill off all those he blames. But in the reception of one of those doctors, Duane gets his first ever date, with the receptionist, and wants to start a positive life too – when the freak twin escapes, the scene is set for a grim finale.

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  • For writer/director Frank Henenlotter, fame came in a small basket, literally. With the release of Basket Case (1982), Henenlotter had shown audiences that he created a unique horror icon to bring forth to the public. Unfortunately that’s all Henenlotter had. Looking back, the film did have some parts that were different from other horror films from the 1980s. Yet this did not override the whole fact that the story itself did not make any sense and the characters weren’t as likable as one would want them to be. However, even with these flaws Henenlotter was able to get his chance to film a sequel. The sequel did not arrive until 1990 (which was abnormal for sequels back then to have such a gap) and it seemed that there was small bits of improvement. Then again there are still other things that keep getting put into the script that add to the confusion. For what it’s worth though, Basket Case (1982) did not need a sequel. Its finale was gratifying enough.

    Like other sequels, Basket Case 2 (1990) picks up where Basket Case (1982) finished. After their fall, Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) and his separated deformed siamese twin Belial are taken to the nearest hospital to recover. There, Belial and Duane get a ride from Granny Ruth (Annie Ross) and Susan (Heather Rattray) to their home, which is a house of other outlandishly deformed outcasts. Meanwhile, a money grubbing reporter named Marcie (Kathryn Meisle) and her partner Phil (Ted Sorel) look to expose the Bradley brothers’ location for their crimes. This story isn’t bad at all. In fact, the concept is much more immersive than that of what Henenlotter wrote for his first film. Unfortunately, it’s the execution that brings about the problems. It was hard pressed to say whether Belial and Duane were the viewers’ designated protagonists. Sure you could sympathize that they were separated at birth and wanted payback, yet the relationship between the two characters didn’t feel like they knew each other.

    That feeling goes double for here. Both Duane and Belial have several opportunities to redeem themselves and learn from their mistakes, and yet they don’t. It is truly unfortunate. That’s one of the best parts about Henenlotter’s writing specifically this time and yet it isn’t utilized properly. Belial finds love and Duane thinks that he deserves his chance to be normal and find love with Susan. Duane sits down and talks with Belial and gets laughed at. Well okay, some brother you are Belial. Although I must question Duane’s newfound “love” for Susan. They literally just met. Turns out the first chance Duane finds love, he wants to sleep with the girl (just like the original film). Even after Belial finds love, he continues to kill people (just like the original film). These characters do not develop what so ever. It’s actually more accurate to say the execution feels fairly similar to that of what happened in the first film. Duane and Belial although brothers, don’t exactly have brotherly love to show for each other. A very poor standing love/hate relationship.

    Another thing that needs to be questioned again is how does Belial have a reproductive system? The first film (even this one through flashback) stated Belial was only connected by tissue and shared no vital organs, so what is Duane’s brother running on? The logic makes no sense. Another element that doesn’t make sense, yet was creative were the other freakishly deformed residence of Granny Ruth’s house. What didn’t make sense were some of the deformities like having as one character is credited as “Man with 27 Noses”, “Frog Boy” or “Toothy”. Many of the designs are truly beyond plausible but the fact that a concept artist had to conjure up such distortions is worth noting. Plus, the practical effects used for the costumes and gory violence are used nicely. And although the design of Belial has changed, he at least has better movement from before and doesn’t howl at ear blistering decibels like the original movie.

    Robert M. Baldwin instead of Bruce Torbet handled the cinematography for this entry. Surprisingly, Baldwin keeps the same visual style of Torbet and cranks it up a couple notches from less gritty indie film to a more professionally made film. Plus, there are some moments where the lighting and angles the cameras move at gives a much more trippier feel to it because it is so bizarre of a story. And because the effects look better, it doesn’t seem as obvious that Belial was originally a puppet and now more like a live creature. The music was of no improvement though. Instead of Gus Russo, Joe Renzetti (known for his music from Child’s Play (1988) composed the music. And just like Child’s Play (1988), Renzetti’s music does have creepy sounding tunes but they are very short-lived and more atmospheric than anything else, leaving little to the imagination. It’s really nothing to be impressed about because it’s so difficult to remember how to hum the tune.

    It has better looking effects, violence and cinematography and its screenplay had moments of opportunity. Regrettably the opportunities weren’t seized, which led to frustrating direction, bad continuity and confusing motivational choices. Surprisingly it’s better than the first,….but not by much.

    Points Earned –> 5:10

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