Back in 1982 at less than shoestring budget director Frank Henenlotter released a very unusual and extremely unique film called Basket Case, and later created in 1987 Brain Damage, however by the 1990s the demand for a sequel reared its head and hence Basket Case 2 born. The story dives into a different area of the movie, making strides parallel at times to infamous Freaks (1932), relying more on new story rather than running out the same as before, and herein it all works freakish (pun intended) well. Frank’s film garnished a budget of $2.5 million, and him freedom to design a house of freaks, while Duane Bradley’s character grew exponentially.
Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case 2 restarts right from the moment of dynamic duo Belial and Duane (returning Kevin Van Hentenryck) sheltered private lives shattered into the public spotlight. They find themselves escort to a hospital and the front page of the tabloid syndicate market’s new pet project to exploit regardless of their privacy. Duane’s unheard of family member Ruth, who’s also a doctor, portrayed by Annie Ross learns of their dire situation and, along with her pregnant daughter Susan (Heather Rattray), helps them escape from the hospital and media scrutiny taking them to her safe haven mansion for freaks. There they enjoy themselves, with a fun introduction of Belial to the other household freaks, such as a giant mouth with a beautiful operatic singing voice, Man with 27 Noses (Michael Rogen) and Frog Boy (Tom Franco) just to name a few and the new arrivals engage in therapy sessions with Ruth. However, a female journalist Marcie (Kathryn Meisle) discovers their whereabouts and with help of others uncovers more secrets, including learning the hard way about the life of freakish person in a twist of irony. The heartstrings pull for the freaks and generate real sympathy for them, as the all fight life and liberty to live it in peace and privacy. The best scene, the separate moments that of Duane and Susan’s romantic interlude and Belial and Eve freakish romp, both eye opening and full of weirdness to a new level, recalling traits from perhaps the Re-Animator movies and Society (1989).
Granny Ruth’s home contains and protects many individuals, disfigured and living lives as parts of freak shows, exploited by families seeking the fast buck, and suffering from bullying by society. The movie, reflected from today’s society, contains an anti-bullying stance, for in the house Duane now assumes the role of outside, and all he seeks is to escape from them all live amongst the normal. In addition, the film references indirectly The Twilight Zone, Season 2 Episode 6, from 1960, “Eye of the Beholder”, where a woman with a pretty face ostracized from the society, because they consider her not normal. The centralized theme of the repeats itself in two of films that consequently bookend this movie Nightbreed (1990) released in February and Edward Scissorhands (1990) from December, of the treatment of outsiders.
The film never for a moment takes a true serious tone, rather more tongue in cheek, and no that’s not a reference to another freak, but speaking of them, the special effects makeup work without a doubt fantastic, multiple mouths and noses of all proportions. The introductions in the attic sequence really to marvel, and none of them appear similar each an individual, and treat as such, makes for a wonderful display to enjoy. Meanwhile Belial achieves a more professional treatment and better facial expressions helping to convey emotions and intentions. In addition Henenlotter’s overall production works steady, never rushing and allows the slow unraveling of the mystery hidden in the movie.
Basket Case 2 knows and understands its status in the horror genre, then as a B-movie classic, and now as a cult status film, independent of itself, away its predecessor, and able to create significant more bloodshed, and dynamic interactions between Belial and Duane. Nevertheless the madness and mayhem find themselves off the scale, with a building pressure cooker in Duane’s mind for the audience to thoroughly enjoy along with freakish ending as a must see, especially with a release on Blu-ray from Synapse Films.