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October 09, 2012

Basket Case 3: The Progeny

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Frank Henenlotter - 1991
Synapse Films Region 0 DVD

In time for the (Halloween) festivities, a new DVD edition of Frank Henenlotter's movie, part of the cult series. For anyone who is unaware of Basket Case, it's the story of a young man, Duane, and his formerly conjoined twin, Belial. Basically an extreme upper torso with arms, sharp teeth, and psychic powers over the often dim-witted Duane, Belial is kept in a basket, hence the title. Those who allow their curiosity to get the better of them find themselves with their faces chewed off by the often belligerent Belial.

The third film begins with footage from the second film, taking place in Granny Ruth's sanctuary for freaks. Belial is having monster sex with Eve. True love doesn't work for Duane as he accidentally kills the woman of his dreams when it turns out she's as much a freak as anyone else in the house. Flashback over, Duane is in a straightjacket, and Belial refuses to talk to him. The freaks go on a road trip to Georgia, to the only doctor who can tend to pregnant Eve.

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Enjoyment of this film will vary upon the individual viewer. Henenlotter was probably inspired by Tod Browning's Freaks, although the "unique individuals" in this film are much more fanciful. Underneath the gore and black humor is a story about family ties, both biological and those based on shared identities. Not that anything is meant to be taken too seriously, but Henenlotter loves his freaks as much as Granny Ruth does, even though they have the attention span and coordination of excitable four year olds. There's splashing of blood, guts, and ripped off heads, all in the spirit of kids trying to top each other with the exchange of gross out jokes.

That legendary jazz singer Annie Ross appeared in the last two films in this series would have to be a testament to her own sense of humor. Taking advantage of her presence here, Ross gets to sing a little bit here. Mention should also be made of Jim O'Doherty as the inappropriately named "Little Hal", giving a glimpse of his stand-up delivery, offering several truly funny moments.

I wouldn't be surprised if the DVD looks far better than when the movie played at second run houses and drive-ins back in 1991. Just as audiophiles sometimes miss the hiss and crackle of vinyl records, with a movie like Basket Case 3, it somehow doesn't seem quite right without a couple yellow scratches in the middle of the frame, or the jump due to torn sprocket holes.

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Posted by peter at October 9, 2012 08:00 AM