Basket Case: A Sleazy and Sensational Low Budget Horror Flick

Originally released in 1982, writer/director Frank Henenlotter‘s Basket Case is one of the cheesiest, sleaziest, and, above all, most entertaining movies of the Reagan era. Filmed on an incredibly low budget (Trivia: the wad of cash that the lead character carries around through some of New York’s seedier areas was actually the film’s entire budget), it has earned a cult following over the years thanks to its revenge-driven plot and leading man–the lovable basket-dwelling freak known as Belial. The story concerns Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck), a young man who was forcibly separated from his telepathic conjoined twin. Taking up residence at the rundown New York City flophouse the Hotel Broslin, Duane and Belial encounter a variety of oddball characters while setting their plan of vengeance against the unscrupulous doctors who caused their murderous separation anxiety.

Although its effects are anything but special, they possess a charm that have helped add to the movie’s enduring appeal. Basket Case was such a success on the midnight movie circuit and home video that it spawned two sequels (of varying quality) and Henelotter also went on to release the equally twisted Brain Damage(featuring a fun cameo by the Duane character) and Frankenhooker, which is exactly what it sounds like.

No one could have predicted it during the film’s production, but Basket Case is an odd kind of period piece — with the seedy New York City depicted in the film long replaced by the playground for the rich that it is these days. Unlike other ’80s horror flicks, this one has yet to fall victim to Hollywood’s remake cycle…something that is both a relief and a bit of a surprise.

So, what’s in the basket? Nothing but pure viewing entertainment. Check it out for a look at a true contemporary cult classic.

We are reprinting this article from the MovieFanFare archives as part of our 31 Days of Halloween celebrations