This newly restored low-budget horror classic should be a Halloween highlight. Info
UW Cinematheque's programming has been a little light on Halloween-related screenings the last couple years, but thankfully this semester the free campus film series makes up for it with the 1982 horror classic Basket Case. Set in an ultra-seedy New York City, Basket Case is the tale of separated conjoined twins: the naive Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck), and his monstrously deformed, homicidal brother Belial (a puppet, voiced by Van Hentenryck). Arriving in New York with his brother hidden in a large wicker basket, Duane seems like a gullible hick lost in the big city. However, the brothers are on a mission to kill the doctors who separated them against their will. Belial is more than eager to murder anyone who gets in the twins' way, and when Duane falls in love, Belial goes into a jealous frenzy that threatens to be the end for them both.
The debut film of director Frank Henenlotter, Basket Case is low-budget filmmaking pushed to an extreme. Henenlotter's lifelong devotion to grindhouse film is evident here, as he uses the limited resources available to create a crude but effective film. Filled with gallons of fake blood, cheap special effects and lots of very, very amateurish acting, Basket Case is knowingly campy and laughable but still has moments of true horror and poignancy. The relationship between the brothers is strangely touching, and the obvious rubber puppet Belial manages to express true pathos when he's not ripping people's tongues out. The proudly lowbrow Basket Case will be shown here in a new 4k restoration from the Museum of Modern Art. —Ian Adcock