St John Karp

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit

“Basket Case 2” (1990)

Basket Case 2 title card.

Eight years after the original Basket Case, writer/director Frank Henenlotter decided to bring back Duane and his deformed twin brother Belial. Why, you ask? Why the hell not! For my part it’s nice to see some consistency in the production crew. At first I assumed some hack director had gone and made a sequel to his favorite trashy horror film, but it’s the same writer/producer and the same lead actor. That’s how you know all this is canon.

Strap yourselves in, this isn’t your grandfather’s sequel.

Duane and Belial escape from the hospital.
Belial sticks to the wall like a suction cup.

We start with a recap of how the previous movie ended — Duane and Belial dangling from a New York hotel window before crashing to the ground. But… they live! Dun dun dunnn. After being rushed to hospital the brothers kill the policeman who was supposed to be watching them and then they make a break for it. They don’t get far beyond the hospital’s front doors before a kindly old lady and her granddaughter offer them a getaway ride.

Granny Ruth and Belial.

Never trust anyone who dresses like Murder She Wrote. Look at that smile. Clearly up to some shady fuckery.

Assorted other freaks.

Aaaand here it is. Turns out granny is running a safe house for freaks. The filmmakers went all out on the freak budget! I’ve never seen such an assortment of wacky characters. Turns out granny once gave birth to a boy with eleven arms, and ever since she’s been crusading for freaks' rights. All right, you go, granny! Run that freak house!

Duane and his bad 90s haircut.

While Belial is settling in quite nicely, Duane can’t seem to get adjusted to his life of freakdom. He does a lot of pacing around and wringing his hands and looking all moody. I’m not sure he’s had any acting lessons since the first movie, but he’s looking distinctly less twinky and his bad 80s haircut has been replaced by a bad 90s haircut.

A journalist discovers one of granny's victims.

Granny isn’t all yuks, though. She’s out to get everyone who degrades her freaks, such as the sleazy owner of a waxwork sideshow. A tabloid journalist is tracking them down, though, and it won’t be long before she finds out where Duane and Belial are hiding.

Granny channels Midsommar.

Yeah, gettin' some reeeeeal Midsommar vibes off granny here. They’ve figured out the journalists are onto them, so they lay plans to bump them off.

Freaks wearing people masks.

In one of the genuinely sinister scenes, Duane and one of the journalists talk in a bar. The journalist tries to lure Duane away, telling him he’s normal, but then everyone at the bar turns around and… they’re freaks! It’s a trap! Run away, you dumb journalist.

The lady journalist gets freakified.

That lady journalist gets the same treatment, except instead of murdering her they just disfigure her so now she’s a freak too.

A mutant baby thing explodes out of its mother.

Duane tries to make off with granny’s granddaughter, saying they’re both normal and they could go live happily ever after. In the middle of their makeout sesh, the granddaughter reveals she’s been pregnant… for six years. The baby will just pop out of her from time to time for some air.

Duane stitches Belial back to his side.

Duane can’t cope with his girlfriend’s stomach baby, so he flips his wig and decides the only way he can be happy again is if he and Belial get the band back together. He stitches Belial back to his side. Aw, happy families.

The Skinny

A lady freak and accomplished poet.

“Let’s see how far we can milk this.”

Maybe this isn’t for everyone if you’re married to the lo-fi no-budget one-track charm of the original, but I don’t have much snark for this movie because… it’s kind of good. I mean Duane’s acting hasn’t got much better and neither has his haircut, but the writing and direction are much more mature. It’s not just a tacky sequel that replays the first movie’s greatest hits (like the Puppet Master franchise does). It’s actually a new story that picks up where the first one left off, only now it’s not Belial who’s maladjusted, it’s Duane. It takes a premise that was already ridiculous and it multiplies it by ten, giving us a whole bevvy of really exotic freaks — and they look great! I laughed out loud. I was genuinely shocked and surprised. I had no idea where this was going and I wasn’t bored for a second. What more do you want? This film is the package for me — good clean trashy fun.