Basket Case (1982)

Director: Frank Henenlotter

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner, Robert Vogel, Lloyd Pace, Bill Freeman, Diana Browne, Joe Clarke

"Do you have the time? To listen to me whine? About nothing and everything all at once?" Those opening lyrics from Green Day's 1994 hit single, Basket Case, can be used to sum up the woes of Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) in Frank Henenlotter's 1982 cult classic that is also named Basket Case. While his problems may seem like nothing to some, particularly those responsible for changing his life, it is simultaneously a seismic event which shattered his world.

As viewers first see neurotic to the bone Duane walking through the grim streets of New York, he checks into a rundown hotel with a large quantity of cash. The young man appears out of place in the grubby location, particularly due to him carrying a large wicker basket containing his misshapen twin brother, Belial. The pair were once conjoined before being forcibly separated by surgery, and now seek revenge on the doctors who separated the brothers against their will.

This story that writer/director Henenlotter has crafted is absolutely fascinating, with this grisly tale being set in grotesque looking places that should be disinfected thoroughly. The mystery builds regarding what lurks in the basket, depicting one-sided conversations and utilising perspective shots to capture scenes of anguish. These aid in building up the question of the basket's mystery contents so that, when Belial is revealed in grisly fashion, it makes for a glorious moment.

The conjoined twin is impressively realised with practical effects, leaving an impact with a low-budget charm even while some moments hold up less well. What is really surprising is the empathetic core which generates such heart for a simple puppet, as the siblings hold hopes for their lives which they truly cannot live out. The promise of a relationship arrives for Duane with kindly receptionist Sharon (Terri Susan Smith), but he is not just paranoid - or stoned - about struggling to move forward as a jealous Belial threatens to stop such progress. The basket dweller only has his brother in his life, and acts out in destructive ways when that is threatened, despite Duane grasping to control his own future.

Flashbacks are utilised to capture a troubled childhood, as societal pressures push a grief-stricken father to disregard Belial and force Duane into a risky life-changing process. As vengeance is fantastically enacted by these co-dependent siblings, it becomes clear that the pair are inseparable for the remainder of their lives. Basket Case is a sleazy cult classic that is compelling in its own right, and perfect for late night viewing.

Basket Case is available on Limited Edition Blu-Ray and 4K now, and is also available on ARROW now.