This timeless 20th-century drive-in classic stars Kevin Van Hentenryck as a guy who checks into a Times Square walkup hotel full of hookers and geeks with a picnic basket under his arm. Inside the basket is something small, pliable, deformed and disgusting that will soon be squeezing people to death and digesting their body parts. It turns out to be a sexually deviant Siamese twin, separated from its more presentable brother in a graphic surgical procedure that didn't quite work and caused some parental-hatred issues. Also starring Terri Susan Smith as the breasty blonde receptionist who falls in love with Van Hentenryck before discovering his brother likes her more; Beverly Bonner as the nastiest hooker on 42nd Street; and Robert Vogel as the intimidating hotel clerk. The debut film of exploitation-movie buff Frank Henenlotter, a Greenwich Village cult hero who would go on to make two sequels and the equally macabre "Brain Damage."
Look who's back. We're gonna need a bigger basket!
"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for 3/2/90
By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas
The drive-in eighties began with the classic "Basket Case," the story of a horribly deformed, twisted, mutilated Siamese twin who lives in a picnic basket and is very angry about it. It summed up the Nixon years for me and many others like me.
And now we begin the nineties with "Basket Case 2." Belial has matured. He's learned to act out his aggression in safer ways. He identifies the people whose faces need to be eaten BEFORE he starts munching. And he's falling in love. It's a kinder, gentler horribly mutilated Siamese twin who lives in a picnic basket.
Why did the sequel take nine years to make?
Because it's perfect.
America is a different place. Belial no longer lives in a loft overlooking Times Square. He lives in the attic of a mansion in Staten Island. And he has FRIENDS. Thanks to a fruitcake lady psychiatrist, he's the head of the world's most militant minority group. They all have heads like giant squashed garden vegetables, and they spend most of their spare time in Ugly Therapy with the lady doctor. But they have one thing in common: they hate "normal" people. And when a smart-mouth bimbo reporter for a sleazoid magazine shows up to write stories about the "freak house," they all get together for a little motivational therapy, followed by some serious molar-sharpening.
The only thing that's just a little bit shocking about Part Two is that the Vomit Meter rating is way way down--no closeup surgery, no slow-motion face-chomping, and a whole lot less blood. Reason: the Jack Valenti MPAA Censorship Board boys have been slashing the slime all year long, slapping "X" ratings on perfectly innocent gore movies, and so nobody's taking any chances with those Nazis.
Even though it's only been nine years, it seems like only yesterday that we had the world drive-in premiere of "Basket Case" at the Highway 183 Drive-In in Irving, Tex., at 2 in the morning. About 300 cars showed up for it, and the world was changed forever. "Basket Case" went on to sweep the Drive-In Academy Awards that year and to become the most famous cult movie of the decade. People still write to me from Austria, Sweden, Australia, and some countries where the movie has been banned, asking for information on "Basket Case." The only cult movie more famous is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and that's probly only because it's been around longer.
And now they've made a better one.
It picks up exactly where the first one left off, with Duane splattered all over the pavement of Times Square. He's a mess, but he's NOT dead. Duane and his twin brother Belial, the twisted mass of grotesque muscle with an arm coming out of the side of his face, get side-by-side intensive-care beds, and all it takes is a couple security-guard meals and--whammo!--they're out on the street, ready to be taken into the care of . . . Annie Ross! The jazz singer and classical actress! She's working a horror film! And she's great.
She takes the Freak Twins to live in her mansion on Staten Island and starts in on their psychotherapy. She takes Belial out of his basket, sets his slimy little intestine body on the couch, and says, "I think it's time we really confronted your feelings about your SEPARATION from Duane." Belial grunts and whimpers. "To you it was more than losing a brother. You also lost a piece of yourself." And when they get to the crux of Belial's problem, she says, "I understand your pain, Belial, but ripping the faces off people may not be in your best interests."
Meanwhile, there's a grotesquely deformed FEMALE Belial upstairs in Granny's Freak Attic, and Belial is spending a lot of time parking his muscle mass in front of Lady Belial's pet bed. Duane thinks that, if Belial actually FALLS IN LOVE with another mutant monster, then Duane will be free for the first time. And he has his eye on... Heather Rattray! The girl from "Mountain Family Robinson" and "Wilderness Family"! The most obnoxious simpering white-bread girl-next-door in America! He wants to do with her what no man has done before. Fat chance.
I don't wanna say anything else, cause it's one of those movies where anything can happen at any moment, and nothing happens where it's supposed to. Another messterpiece.
Two breasts. Six dead bodies. Strangling. Face-eating. Monster sex. Closeup surgery. Closeup do-it-yourself surgery. Kung Fu. Baseball bat Fu. Freak show Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Jason Byers, as the editor of Judge And Jury, "America's Gravest Newspaper," the same actor who starred in the 1959 drive-in classic The Brain That Wouldn't Die; Heather Rattray, as Susan, for saying "We're all of the same flesh, Duane"; Kevin van Hentenryck, as Duane, for making the second movie even after he died in the first one, for having even a MORE disgusting scar on the side of his body where Belial was cut off, and for slowly going crazy as he says "I just wanted people to think I was NORMAL!"; Kathryn Meisle, as the tabloid reporter, for saying "This story is worth more than Lou could ever pay! We're talking People Magazine!"; Annie Ross, as Granny Ruth, for gathering her freakish "children" around her and saying "The wolves are once again at our door! Our rights are being invaded by sideshow mentality!" and then leading them into battle;
Ted Sorel, as Phil the detective, for saying "You're wrapped in your brother's shadow!" right before Belial eats his face off; and Frank Henenlotter, the director, for making the ultimate handicapped-rights film.
Four stars. The standard for the nineties.
Joe Bob says check it out.
JOE BOB'S ADVICE TO THE HOPELESS
Communist Alert! The Frontier Drive-In on Highway 199 just outside Cave Junction, Ore., has a big "For Sale" sign on it, and the wind is not only whipping through the pines around the screen--it's whipping through the screen. David Arthur of Ashland discovered the sad sight and reminds us that, without eternal vigilance, it can happen here. To get free junk in the mail from Joe Bob, including his world-famous newsletter, write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221. Joe Bob's Fax line is always open: 214-368-2310.
Dear Joe Bob,
What I like about your column is the illusion that just me and 49 other really special people are your best friends and you read our letters yourself and everything.
Stay in touch with your soul, dude.
Las Cruces, N.M.
You don't expect us to actually SHOW your letter to the very busy Mr. Briggs, do you?
After reading your latest re Ugly on a Stick, I have an idea. If you want to make some extra bucks, I think you should go on tour with Ugly. If she's half as bad as you say, people will pay real money to stare at her (like a sideshow at the circus). Don't worry, you don't have to look at her. When not on display, you can keep a burlap bag (with airholes in it; we don't want the animal rights people on your case) on her face.
Keep doing what you do best,
I could never put Ugly-on-a-Stick in a sideshow. That would be cruel.
I'm thinking of a steel cage with peepholes, something like that.
Joe Bob Briggs,
It's Sunday and I'm sitting here at work thinking about why I'm working for people that Bombed Pearl Harbor. What has America become? I guess everything's for the almighty dollar.
Not EVERYTHING is for the almighty dollar.
Most things are for the almighty yen.
Dear Mr. Bob,
Your review of "Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn" took me by surprise. You see, Terrence Locke died in 1982, and I was wondering if it's the same person, in an old movie. He did play in a movie with Misty Rowe called "Goodbye, Norma Jean." Perhaps they recut that. I'm curious, because I lived with Mr. Locke until he died and he never spoke of "Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn." Perhaps there is another Terrence Locke. Would you please let me know.
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Larry Buchanan, the greatest conspiracy theorist drive-in movie maker working today, sometimes spends ten years working on the same movie, and then he gives it three, four different titles, so it's VERY possible that the movie completed in 1988 was shooting in 1982. That's the kind of drive-in genius Larry is. He's a perfectionist. And now that we're discussing it, if Marilyn Monroe WAS killed by the Mafia, CIA, Castro and Bobby Kennedy, then who killed Terrence Locke? The Soviets? Marina Oswald?
And I quote: "In elevating the shadow to primary reality, the denizens of the cave substituted the projected image (shadow) for the substance itself. This substitution was the first condition of a non-objective reality and still serves as a paradigm for the forms of projection."
Written by some guy called John Bloom. I saw a John Bloom on the cover of your first book. You ain't hangin' around no int'lectul types are ya? If this guy can talk about shadows as "non-objective reality" or "a paradigm", imagine all he would have to say about Reform School Girls. You'd hafta lock him out the car just to hear the groaning, let alone the cucumber jokes.
Don't spill blood, walk on two legs, and all that,
I don't know how many times I have to tell you people: John Bloom is dead.
* Since the crew only consisted of three or four people, many of the names in the credits are fictitious.
* The film crew was allowed to film inside a run-down Times Square hotel as long as they didn't reveal the actual name of the place, to avoid New York Health officials from investigating the poor living conditions.
* When Duane checks into the Hotel Broslin he takes out a wad of cash. According to Frank Henenlotter, the film's director, it was the film's entire budget.
* The initial US release, while still unrated, was cut by the distributor to eliminate virtually all of the blood and gore. The violence was later re-inserted when the film started playing the midnight circuit
* The Australian version, released on the Roadshow Home Video label, is uncut, and is the same as the American unrated version.
* In the UK the film was originally cut by the censors who removed the following:
* The scene where Duane watches a kung-fu film is missing shots of 'chain-sticks' from the kung-fu film itself.
* The second doctor's death scene is missing a shot of him spitting blood as well as the climatic shot of blood splashing on his face.
* The death of the female vet shortens shots of Belial clawing her face, the terminating shot of the scene showing the vet with scalpels sticking in her face is deleted.
* Shots of the noisy neighbor being clawed to death by Belial are cut; this sequence was originally intercut with two other scenes making the editing at this point awful due to these cuts.
* The infamous scene where Belial 'romances' Duane's girlfriend is the worst to suffer cuts-after she wakes up the entire scene has been removed bar a brief shot of her being strangled. In addition the shot of Belial on top her dead body and Duane's attempts to pull him off her is missing. Its worth noting that apart from the opening scene every murder in the film has been cut to some degree by the UK censors.
* The film has been subsequently passed uncut by the BBFC in the UK.
* Basket Case 2 (1990) was filmed in parts of Plainfield and Newark, New Jersey. The mansion used in the movie was linked to a couple of urban legends in Plainfield.
Elvis has left the building, and he took Joe Bob with him.