Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Second Sighted: The BASKET CASE TRILOGY on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Second Sighted: The BASKET CASE TRILOGY on Blu-ray

I just recently saw Josh Johnson's cool new documentary REWIND THIS! which prominently featured BASKET CASE director Frank Henenlotter. I'd never seen him or heard him speak before so it was a pleasant surprise. One thing he mentioned was that Media(the company that put the movie out on VHS) had effectively made it one of the first sell-thru titles ever by reducing the normally exorbitant price to a meager $19.99. Apparently this was a huge success and the film made a lot of money because of it. It was this VHS release and the rise of home video in general that certainly helped make this film more widely known(and create a place for sequels to it). I know I myself first saw BASKET CASE on one of those old Media VHS tapes and I even eventually bought a used copy. BASKET CASE is certainly one if those films that probably benefited from many folks seeing it for the first time in the washed out aesthetic of VHS. That being said, I was very excited to see these Blu-rays from this excellent new Second Sight set. One lovely feature it has right off the bat(besides the lovely cover art) is that this set is region free. This is somewhat uncommon for Second Sight releases,(which is not a big deal at all as I have a region-free Blu-ray player)but I am rather pleased that more folks will be able to check this set out and perhaps be introduced to the goodness that flows regularly from Second Sight.
BASKET CASE was first introduced to me as a cult movie. I read about the film in Danny Peary's Cult Movies 2 book. Movies I came across in Peary's books had some immediate cache with me as he steered me towards so much great stuff. BASKET CASE is kind of a prototypical cult movie in my mind. It has been the fodder of midnight screenings for years, much like its brethren ERASERHEAD. In fact, the film was initially part of a deal with Libra Films who handled the early midnight screenings. Libra had been been greatly successful on the midnight circuit with ERASERHEAD prior to this. Though the two films are quite different, they have a few similarities and their cult status as well as the fact that I saw them very close together has made me link them a bit in my mind. BASKET CASE is a marvel of low-budget horror filmmaking. That it pulls off what it does in the context of its financials(a $33,000 budget) is quite impressive. Hennenlotter and his producer were able to hire Kevin Haney and John Caglione to do the effects on the film. They had both worked under FX master Dick Smith and they really elevate the film to a whole other level. Certainly the effects were a huge part of its appeal at the time. Like I said though, it's a cult film through and through in that it's the kind of thing you watch late at night on VHS or cable and then quickly spread the word to your genre fanatic friends who haven't had the pleasure. It's a word of mouth wonder. The little horror engine that could. I love to root for filmmakers and films like this especially when they pull if something memorable. In the words of the great Joe Bob Briggs,"We're talking classic cinema here. We're Talking No. 1 on the Joe Bob Briggs Best of '82 Drive-in Movie list. We're talking BASKET CASE."
Regarding BASKET CASE 2 and 3, I'm not sure I'd seen them before this. I may have seen 2 a long while ago on VHS, but I'd ever gotten to 3. In part 2, the main character and his deformed brother are taken in by a home for wayward freaks run by Annie Ross(in a bad wig). Annie Ross may have played plenty of other roles, but I'll always remember her as the evil principal character in PUMP UP THE VOLUME. When I see Annie Ross onscreen, I immediately begin to sneer. The film plays kind of like an 80s version of FREAKS, complete with the phrase "one of us" uttered a few times. The film occasionally feels like a casting call for the Mos Eisley Cantina or something along those lines. The other freaks are designed well and the movie is fun if not nearly as interesting or successful in what it accomplishes as the original. As for BASKET CASE 3, I don't have a whole lot to say about it. Others will certainly enjoy it more than I did, and it is still recommended for fans of the series.

Special Features - this set has some good stuff, part of which was not included on the Something Weird Blu-ray:
- "What's In The Basket?" - Feature length(78 mins) look behind the scenes at the making of the BASKET CASE trilogy with director Frank Henenlotter; actors Kevin VanHentenryck, Beverly Bonner, Annie Ross; producers Edgar Ievans and James Glickenhaus; make-up effects artists John Caglione Jr, Kevin Haney, Gabe Bartalos and writer Uncle Bob Martin.
- Interview with Graham Humphreys - The film poster artist discusses his career up to his involvement on the new BASKET CASE Trilogy artwork.
- BASKET CASE: Video Introduction by Frank Henenlotter(in which he talks about wanting to make the HD version look like the 1st 16mm print they originally struck); Audio Commentary Henenlotter, producer Edgar Ievins and actress Beverly Bonner; Outtakes & Behind The Scenes; 2001 Video Short - The Hotel Broslin; Trailers & Radio Spots; Photo Gallery - behind the scenes, promotional material, stills. 

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