Basket Case 2 opens with the end of Basket Case and the seeming death of the two main characters – Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) and his monstrously deformed murderous mutant brother Belial. All after the pair succeeded on reaping revenge on the doctors who separated them.
A non-start to a sequel you may think. However Basket Case 2 is no cash-in spin off, being that it is written and directed by Frank Henenlotter, the man behind the original anarchic cult classic.
And being the warped brain that gave us Frankenhooker, Henenlotter has no trouble not only resurrecting our anti-heroes, but also offering them up a whole new crackpot adventure that leads to more mayhem, madness and bloodshed. This time the pair have escaped hospital and are heading for a secret haven for freaks run by the loving, if slightly unhinged Granny Ruth (Annie Ross).
Granny Ruth’s house is home to a number of strange and unusual characters, all with increasingly more hideous, grotesque and ridiculous deformities. And for that reason Belial feels right at home. However Duane finds it harder to settle in.
With the police out to recapture them for the crimes they have committed and with a pair of nosey reporters on their tail, it’s not longuntil the duo find themselves in trouble once again, except this time they have a whole community of comrades to fight against the people persecuting them.
Henenlotter’s sequel is bigger in every sense than the first Basket Case. There’s a bigger cast, bigger effects, bigger issues and a much, much bigger budget. This results in some excellent effects especially on Belial and the other freaks who inhabit Granny Ruth’s safe haven.
The introduction of the other deformed characters (who have also been mistreated, used and abused by the rest of the world and forced into hiding) draws out more poignantly and strongly the issues touched on in Basket Case and also seen in other movies such as Nightbreed, Edward Scissorhands and The Elephant Man.
However, the film that Basket Case 2 most shares its themes with is is Tod Browning’s disturbing and still controversial Freaks. Including the somewhat warped morality which both play out whereby killing those responsible for the harassment and oppression is deemed acceptable and is even encouraged.
As in the first film Kevin Van Hentenryck steals the show with another brilliant performance, this time taking it to the very edge of insanity. Annie Ross is also great, along with the rest of the supporting cast who all do a great jobs.
Issues aside, there is also a lot more of the trademark Henenlotter humour in Basket Case 2. With lots of gore, violence and chuckles everything culminates in a crazy climax as both Belial and Duane get up close and personal with the new loves of their lives – which will have you both laughing and grimacing at the same time. It all leads to a horrible ending that in turn leads perfectly on to Basket Case 3.
Bigger on budget and scope than the first film, Basket Case 2 might not have the raw feel and low budget inventiveness of the previous part. But the extra cash gives Henenlotter scope to realise not only more impressive monsters and effects but also to create a more ambitious movie which is still just as fun.
The Basket Case Trilogy is out now. You can check out our amazing Basket Case interviews, starting with director Frank Henenlotter right here.