St John Karp

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit

“Basket Case” (1982)

Basket Case title card.

It happens every full moon or menstrual cycle that Parker and I get a yearning for a cheesy horror franchise. I floated the idea of one of the Sharknado or Sharktopus movies, but Parker warned me away from those with the same look of horror and disgust that always colors the faces of the villagers when Jonathan Harker spends the night at the local inn before going to Dracula’s castle. Then Parker suggested doing Basket Case and its two sequels, and I said hell yes, ma'am. We both loved Basket Case but so far haven’t got round to the sequels, so we decided to start at the beginning with this cult horror classic.

Dr. Lifflander bears an uncanny resemblance to Richard Dawkins.

We start with Dr. Lifflander, whose 70s-style hair and glasses are going to set the tone for the look of this movie. Also is it me, or does he bear an uncanny resemblance to Richard Dawkins? At any rate there’s something going bump in the night, and it doesn’t take long before a chonker hand grabs him by the face and pulls him out of frame where something begins to gnaw it off.

Oh yeah, there’s a content warning on this stuff. I’ll be doing some gross screenshots, kids.

Duane Bradley and his enormous hair.

Enter the protagonist, Duane Bradley, who is weighed down by his giant hair and a big wicker basket and a boatload of teenage angst. He’s just arrived in New York and checks into a seedy motel which looks damn near identical to a place I stayed on the Bowery a few years ago. Bed bugs, cigarette burns in the comforter, you name it. Nice place. One day when I’m rich and famous I’m going to go live there so I can remind myself how much purer my life was before I had a jacuzzi filled with champagne and a squadron of buff manservants to carry me from place to place.

Dr. Needleman meets his end covered in blood and screaming.

Dr. Needleman is next on Duane’s hit list, because as it turns out he’s been carrying THIS around in that wicker basket:

Duane's blob-monster brother Belial.

It’s Duane’s blob-monster Siamese twin brother, from whom he was forcibly separated as a child. Belial the blob was sliced off him by some quack doctors who chucked him in the dumpster like an unwanted baby. He survived, and now he and Duane are going around town taking vengeance on the “doctors” who did them wrong. Yaaaaaas, that’s what I’m talking about!

Of course the plan goes horribly wrong when Duane falls in love with some bit of hotsy-totsy. Belial senses something is up and starts going feral, then kills some rando who broke into their room to steal from them. Because you knew that screaming blob-monster was never going to get a suit and tie and a job teaching primary school, right?

Dr. Kutter with a face full of scalpels.

The last “doctor” on this Phibes-style revenge spree is Dr. Kutter, a vet, who winds up with a face full of scalpels. To be fair, she was kind of the worst one.

Belial grabs Duane by the dick.

Belial decides he wants to taste some lady for himself, so first he has a go at the hooker who lives next door, then he goes after Duane’s bit of skirt. Thankfully the hooker survives Belial’s attentions (we like her, she’s great), but he sort of rapes Duane’s girlfriend to death. Duane takes issue with this, at which point Belial grabs him by the dick and throws him out the window.

Where’s the Man Candy?

I haven’t done a man candy section in a while, so that must mean this movie’s good, right? Right??

Duane runs naked down the street.

In a strange dream sequence Duane runs naked down the streets of New York. It’s not a common move for a horror movie to give us full-frontal male nudity (not pictured…) because usually their eye is much more focused on sneaking some lady tit onto the big screen. Alas the male dangler flopping wildly as its owner runs down a probably freezing street isn’t the most attractive sight in the world, but Duane’s definitely got some good vibes going on otherwise.

Duane's dad shirtless.
Duane’s dad comes looking for him in a flashback.

Yaaaas skinny, hairless, slightly blobby dad candy! I’m about it.

The Skinny

A hypochondriac at the doctor's office.

“I’m not going to be threatened by some adolescent punk with a smoldering grudge, unless you’ve grown something else you want cut off.”

For a movie whose dialogue consists mostly of incoherent screaming, Basket Case is on point! The script is tight, the plot is good, it’s well paced, and it’s endlessly fun. The acting is probably its weakest point, but it’s a low budget horror movie, who cares. For a cheesy cult horror/comedy, this movie is a slam dunk and I can’t wait to see the other two in the series.