31 Days of Horror: Basket Case Trilogy

Believe it or not, there was a time in my life fairly recent where I was just done with horror. I was just burnt out. I knew I’d come back eventually, but I was at the point in college where my studies suffered because I spent nearly ALL my time watching movies and writing about them, and I spent all my money on discs and memorabilia. It had just gotten a bit overwhelming. My entertainment interests were shifted from horror flicks to Japanese superheroes and professional wrestling. That is until one day I watched a movie with my best friend after being intrigued by the cover. That movie was Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case.

As a horror fan I had heard things about Basket Case but had never actually seen it. When I did finally see it, basically on a whim, I absolutely fell in love. Not only did I fall head over heels with this low budget, independent shlock but it also prompted me to check out it’s two sequels. The trilogy as a whole is a thing of beauty to me and I am stoked to talk about it with anyone who will listen.


I love just about everything in this movie. The plot is absolutely insane, and it is backed up totally by the performances. Kevin Van Hentenryck does an awesome job portraying the shy Duane on their murderous journey. The supporting performance of Beverly Bonner has developed a cult following that has resulted in her own off broadway show. There’s tons of fun gore FX, and a sick scene using stop motion animation. All in all, it’s just an amazing experience.

The second movie picks up after the events of the first with the Bradley brothers in hiding. They are taken in by an eccentric older lady called Granny Ruth who has taken in a slew of sideshow freaks. While hiding out with the freaks they are being chased by an anxious journalist who is hellbent on breaking the story that the brothers are alive and well. This film has more of a dark comedy feel than the horror atmosphere garnered by the first. The star of this film are the different creature effects that are included. They aren’t realistic deformities; they are the stuff nightmares are made of. Among this cast of characters is a female Belial character, which leads us to the third film.

In Basket Case 3: The Progeny, Belial and his newfound love prepare to welcome their monstrous offspring into the world. Another aspect of the film is the narrative that Duane and Belial are starting to distrust each other a bit. Finally the baby Belials are born, and they are insane. The scene of the babies being born is non-stop hillarity. There’s also some fun gore (although the gore we do see is a severely trimmed down version of what was shot). This is also more of a dark comedy than a horror movie, but it rounds out the trilogy very well.

Over the years I’ve come to consider Basket Case my favorite film. It doesn’t have the chill factor of the original Dawn of the Dead, the grit of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, or the body count of any Friday the 13th movie, but there’s some kind of horrific charm that has stuck with me over the years. I have had the pleasure to meet star Kevin Van Hentenryck as well as the director, Frank Henenlotter, and talk to them at length. This has only heightened my fandom. The remaining films in the trilogy are a lot different, but are an incredibly fun time. If you haven’t yet seen all three of these flicks, you absolutely need to, as soon as you can!

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About Chuck Ransford 100 Articles
Ah now for the one thing everyone loathes...writing about themselves! Well for starters, my name is Chuck, and I am a south Jersey transplant living in Amish country. I’ve been a horror fan since 5th grade, about 16 years ago. My horror fandom started when I got my hands on a copy of Jay Anson’s novel The Amityville Horror. The book terrified me, and I knew I just had to watch the movie. An older cousin of mine had a copy of it, and that was the genesis of my obsession with the genre. Over the years I have expressed my horror fandom in many ways. Since about 2005 I have been regularly attending horror conventions. These have been great ways to amass collectibles, movies, and to meet some of my favorite celebrities. My best friend Mike and I used to run our own horror blog years ago, and we also dabbled in script writing. I am looking forward to going back to writing about horror, something I’ve always loved. When I’m not working (I work at PNC Bank), my non-horror interests are studying theology and economics, watching Japanese tokusatsu, and doing play-by-play commentary for professional wrestling. I’m also a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society and singing in a Barbershop quartet. Oh, and I’m probably the biggest fan of the Golden Girls you’ll ever meet. My top 5 horror flicks (definitely subject to change): 1. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) 2. Basket Case (1982) 3. Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) 4. The Beyond (1981) 5. Dawn of the Dead (1978)