Basket Case 2 (Blu-ray Review)

Basket-Case-21982’s BASKET CASE introduced horror fans to Duane Bradley and his twin brother Belial, and a new horror classic was born.  They also introduced the world to Frank Henenlotter, the uniquely crazed talent who would later give us BRAIN DAMAGE and FRANKENHOOKER.  In 1990 and ‘91, Henenlotter and star Kevin Van Hentenryck returned for two even more demented sequels, both coming to Blu-ray from Synapse Films this August (The ninth to be more specific)!  See below for more details and pre-order links!  The review in this piece is for the release of Basket Case 2.  Duane Bradley and his surgically-separated twin brother Belial return in this frightfully gory follow-up to Frank Henenlotter’s original monster movie classic, BASKET CASE. Synapse Films is proud to present BASKET CASE 2 in a beautiful high-definition transfer from the original 35mm camera negative.

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After surviving a fall from a hospital window, the two brothers become media targets. Duane’s aunt, Granny Ruth, whisks the duo away to a secluded mansion, where other freaks-in-hiding live out their days away from public scrutiny. When a snooping tabloid reporter finds the location of the mutants, Duane and his new family must stand together to keep their freedom a secret. And, in all the chaos, Belial might actually find true love!

Frank Henenlotter’s first Basket Case venture was a film of 42nd legend.  Soaked up in sleaze, with creature effects, weirdness, dark comedy, disturbing horror, shock and gruesome effects it was the perfect film to lay upon those audiences.  It also features an outsider literally moving in there.  It was a true tribute to that place and that time.  It was also very self contained.  So, how would a sequel come about?  Well, not that difficult if you just sort of subtract the impact of the original’s ending.

Basket Case 2 some might say goes off the rails a bit from what the original was, and I think that’s what Henenlotter wants from it.  Its ridiculous to have a sequel, but if he’s gonna do it, its going to up the ante on crazy.  Cited as an homage to Todd Browning’s Freaks, its also one of the last big creature features to come around before CGI effects would slowly become the norm.  Instead of one gross little monster, we get a whole slew (Or household, rather) of misfits.

The best thing about Basket Case 2 is just marveling at the effects, make-up, costuming and overall bizarre weirdness of the new characters.  While the film itself might not be all together or have a whole lot to say, the effects are top notch.  You want to sit and just star at some of these things and just intake the grossness of it all as it turns to some form of friendly.  Really.  For as hard R-rated and horrific as a lot of this is, the presentation is very friendly, homely and family in its nature.  While it never looks that way, it truly is twisted and dark.

This sequel isn’t an awful watch, and its almost plenty worth your time, but really it sort of overwelcomes its stay by just a hair.  It feels a little long in the tooth at 90 minutes.  What I appreciate in this film is that they really go for something entirely different, never pandering us to relive really anything from the first one.  However, a lot of the early luster sort of ends up disappearing and we’re just waiting for it to approach the finish line.  The kooky characters, effects, humor do lend it to being a decent one-time watch.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  For this one, Synapse Film made the new high definition transfer from the original 35mm negative.  And my does this look gorgeous.  Basket Case 2 and the third one are films that don’t deserve to look this good.  Both spot an image similar to one another.  Its a clean, crisp, sharp looking picture that is ripe with detail and colors.  The texture of all the creatures is visible down to every grisly wrinkle, scuff or bloody mark.  Fans will be over the moon(head) for this.

Depth:  Depth is very good.  There’s a good sense of having spacing between a foreground character/object and the background.  Movements are smooth, cinematic and free.

Black Levels:  Blacks are plenty deep and look great.  Surprisingly not very grainy at all in darker sequences.  Shadowing is terrific.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bold and really beautiful looking.  There is a nice palette on display.   There isn’t a specific color to point out, because they all have quality appearances and never crutch on another one.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the feature’s runtime.  Facial details like blood stains, wrinkles, stubble and make-up all come through pretty clear from medium and close-up distances.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics:  This 2.0 presentation is actually very very good.  Effects are loud, layered and very distinct.  Music and vocals are woven in with very good balance.  For not being a 5.1 track and a catalog title, its actually really full sounding and inviting.  Many should be pleased with how crisp, loose and effective it is.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud, crisp and clean.  Volume and speaker placement is top notch.

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Basket Case 2 comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster artwork.

The Man in the Moon Mask (SD, 6:19) – Interview with actor David Emgee, who plays the moon shaped head guy in the film.  He discusses how he got on the film (Knew somebody) and working every day with the other freaks in the movie.

Beyond the Wicker (SD, 22:34) – A behind the scenes featurette. Features interviews with Henenlotter, effects people, and has plenty of on-set footage and effects creation.  This looks to be archival, but it more than covers all you want.

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While I really like the first Basket Case a lot, I’m not as fond of this sequel.  And that’s not to say I don’t like it; I find myself respecting and appreciating a lot of things about it but merely finding it to be just “okay”.  This Blu-ray from Synapse Films is MORE than okay though.  Its got terrific supplemental material, but is worth owning alone (if you enjoy the film) for its outstanding transfer and audio.  This is a real winner from Synapse, who don’t overload you with releases, but when they put something out, you know its of the best quality.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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