Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1992) – By Duane L. Martin

This is one of those instances where I’m going to quote the storyline from film’s IMDB, because I think it actually spells it out better than I could. That, plus I’d probably go on for three paragraphs with it, because I do tend to ramble.

"The saga of Times Square Freak Twins Duane and Belial Bradley takes its most bizarre twist yet. It all starts innocently enough when the Bradley boys join kindly doctor Granny Ruth and her family of unique individuals for a road trip through the deep South.. The occasion – Belial’s about to become a proud monster father – and no basket is big enough to hold this ungodly brood! But when a pair of warped sheriffs deputies kidnap Belial’s babies Granny Ruth and the family strike back. Belial single handedly decimates the local police station with crazed, Terminator like fury – and that’s just the beginning. Threatened with the loss of the newest additions to their family, Granny Ruth and the others concoct a delicious revenge against their enemies, climaxing in Belial’s futuristic one-on-one with the town Sheriff." – IMDB

The Basket Case series from director Frank Henenlotter, has for many, many years been a cult entitiy in the world of horror films. I vaguely remember seeing the original film at the drive-in with my brother when I was like eleven or twelve years old. My birthday is in December, so I’m not sure how old I was at the time. I don’t remember much about the film, but I’ve always remembered its deformed star Belial and his basket. It was so outside of anything I had ever seen or could have imagined at that age, that it really stuck with me, even though the film itself didn’t. Much like the fetish doll in Trilogy of Terror, which I snuck out and watched from behind the couch one night when I was around four years old. I don’t remember the movie really, but that doll is instantly recognizable to me.

Because I don’t remember the original movie, and I’ve never seen the second film at all, nor do I own either, I really came into this one blind, without any benefit of knowing what had happened in the previous films. There are a few flashbacks here and there to various things, but not enough to really fill you in. That said, I did have enough familiarity with the basic story to make it a bit easier to digest. Judging from the flashback scenes, this film was a huge leap forward in the creature fx and visuals.

Granny Ruth takes care of the…jeez, I don’t even know what to call them other than freaks. They have every bizzarre and horrific deformity you can imagine, and they’re really beyond description other than to say that they’d have fit very well into the movie Freaked with Randy Quaid. I was extremely impressed by the articulation on the ones that had a full facial mask. Some just had make up on the face along with head prosthetics and such, but the ones that had a full on mask were very articulated. This was especially impressive considering the obviously low budget. Frank Henenlotter said in an interview once that because the producers wanted the film to be less gory, he’d had to remove about eleven pages of script. Honestly, he’d have been better off leaving them in. The gore that is in the film is rather cartoonish, as are the freaks, so it really could have used some gore-ing up so to speak.

The part that got a reaction out of me more than anything else in the film was when Granny Ruth’s son Little Hal, with the help of Belial’s brother Duane, built him a big, robotic suit that he used to extract his revenge on the sheriffs. Seeing Belial walking around in this giant thing that he was controlling very awkwardly with a couple of levers was not only really fun, but it struck me that it was also really inventive, not only in the fact that they got the idea to do it, but also in how they built it. It worked really well. The other thing that really got me was when Belial’s girlfriend Eve, who looked like a female version of him, gave birth to his kids, she popped out twelve little Belial babies. The babies were so ugly, they were almost cute, and again, were really well articulated. They also have a really hilarious part at the end that I won’t spoil here.

Is this the best film in the world? Not by a country mile. There are parts of it that feel like they’re dragging bad, and other parts that are completely unnecessary, like Granny Ruth’s song on the bus while they’re traveling to Uncle Hal’s place. That combined with the fact that the film really could have used more gore really dragged it down, but fortunately, there’s enough goofy, fun goodness in the film to help balance that out. It has a 3.8 star rating on IMDB, but I think I’d be more generous than that and give it more like a six. Not awesome, but not bad, and it definitely has it’s moments where it’s very entertaining. All in all, not a bad sequel, and definitely, at least quality-wise, better than its predecessors…at least from what I’ve seen in trailers and other clips.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Synapse Films website here, and if you’d like to get a copy for yourself, you can get the DVD from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.