As Basket Case gets a very special release with Basket Case The Trilogy Special Edition coming to Blu-ray and DVD on the 22nd of October, we got a chance to talk to the warped minds that were responsible for making the movie the cult classic it truly is.
First up is Edgar P. Ievins, the producer who got the movie off the ground. We to him about talk budgets, sequels and The Art of Baking & Cooking.
LoveHorror: First can I say that I love Basket Case. I think its great that it’s getting this re-release which will hopefully bring the film to a whole new horror audience.
Edgar P. Ievins: I congratulate you on having such impeccable taste.
LoveHorror: How did you get involved in Basket Case?
Edgar P. Ievins: I was working as a Counselor/Administrator in an upstate hospital (yeah, Glens Falls Hospital), and had reached a point where, in order to advance, I would have had to go back to school for my Doctorate.
I’d begun looking around for other employment options, when my childhood sweetheart, Ilze Balodis (recently divorced), contacted me. Ilze, who was living in NYC at the time, had worked closely with Frank on his previous film “SLASH OF THE KNIFE”. Having met Frank, and having seen his work, I concluded early on that Frank was destined to become famous, whether I had anything to do with it or not. Here was a core group of consummately talented Artists, in need of a fundraiser/administrator/producer (O.K…..bean-counter)…if you will. I couldn’t miss this opportunity. So glad I jumped aboard when I did.
Ilze was working as the evening Registrar for the American Academy for the Dramatic Arts at the time, and hand-picked our Cast, Catered our meals, and starred as the Social Worker mid-way through the flash-back sequence…quite the babe..ey?
LoveHorror: The first Basket Case film was made on a tiny budget. What are you memories of the shoot?
Edgar P. Ievins: Tiny does not begin to address our budget. There was no budget.
This could take pages. If you’ve ever been involved with a grass-roots style production, not unlike a small Summer-Stock Theatre Group or the like, I think you may have a glimpse into the “common-cause” aspect such a group of unlikely up-starts. It was us against the world. If your reporter wants details, I will certainly make myself available for a telephone conversation.
LoveHorror: What was it like working with the legend that is Frank Henenlotter?
Edgar P. Ievins: A curse, and a blessing. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
One of the problems we faced early-on, was the bevy of suggestions from well-intentioned interlopers. Beyond his command of English Literature, Film, and ridiculously twisted sense of humor, Frank has the unique talent of looking through the camera lense and being able to determine whether we got “the shot”, or not. I’d like to think I caught on to this early-on, and I was backing this horse all the way.
Here’s the thing. My job was to count the beans & keep our investors informed, and above all else, make sure Frank got his shot. The curse, (no matter how close): if Frank said we didn’t get the shot, we had to roll more film.The blessing: if Frank said we got the shot, we had the shot. Invaluable when you’re pricing film stock by the inch.
LoveHorror: How did the sequels come about? And what was the differences making them as apposed to the first movie?
Edgar P. Ievins: Oh for goodness sake, we killed the brothers in the first movie to make sure we didn’t have to continue with this nonsense. If not for advances in Modern Medicine (and a sudden influx of cash from Japan), there never would have been a sequel. Here’s the thing. Frank is such a good story teller, that, how can you not want to know what happens next?
LoveHorror: Why do you think the films achieved such cult status?
Edgar P. Ievins: Simple. Frank’s a bloody genius.
One of the most common criticisms we’ve had to endure, was how cheap the films looked. Duh…..but here comes the magic. I can’t count the number of midnights I spent at the Waverly Theatre in NYC checking out the audience response. It was not uncommon to hear rumblings in the audience in the first 5 minutes or so about how cheap the film looked. Then, slowly by bit, the audience shut up and began watching the film. Then we had ’em. After that, production values had no bearing. The audience was hooked on the story. Substance triumphed!
But let’s also give credit to where credit is due. Back in the early ’80s, here you had a group of upstarts with decidedly questionable attitudes. How are you going to compete in the world markets? We had the honor and privilege of hooking up with Sidney Safir, of Safir Films (Yeah, a fellow Britt), to handle our Foreign sales. Safir Films had, and to this day, has a stellar reputation for quality and honesty, unparalleled in the industry. The Safir’s aire of legitimacy complimented our particular brand of wackiness, and opened markets that might have otherwise been more difficult to reach.
I guess I have never stopped watching them. To quote the Holy Modal Rounders: “Good taste is timeless”
LoveHorror: What are you working on at the moment and what’s next for you?
Edgar P. Ievins: Oh goodness, now I’m working on my art. The Art of Baking & Cooking. I teach in a number of public venues in the Boston area, along with persons and groups for whom I cook on a private basis. This is my art.
Oh yeah, that’s your brain on ice cream……
LoveHorror: They look delicious! Thank you so much for your time and your answers.
Watch out for more Basket Case interviews and reviews soon.
Basket Case – The Trilogy Special Edition is out on Blu-ray and DVD on the 22nd of October.