Director – Frank Henenlotter
Cast – Kevin Van Hentenryck, Judy Grafe, Annie Ross, Heather Ratray, Chad Brown, Beverly Bonner
Release Year – 1990
Reviewed by John of the Dead
In 1982 exploitation director Frank Henenlotter gave us one of the coolest exploitation horror flicks out there, “Basket Case”. A low-budget grindhouse experience with one of horror’s coolest antagonists. 8 years later he gave us an un-needed sequel that along with a higher production value, is even more zany than the first. Sure to be of interest to “Basket Case” fans, this is a film you will either enjoy, or hate. Read on, and you will find out why.
“Basket Case 2” takes off immediately after the conclusion of the first film. Dwayne and his brother Benile manage to escape the hospital they are in, and are met by an lady promising them a safe haven. This lady, Granny Ruth, has dedicated her life to saving and sheltering “freaks” from the outside world. Benile is enjoying his stay at Granny Ruth’s home, while Dwayne is wanting out so that he can experience the world without Benile dragging him down. Word on the street is that Dwayne and his brother are dead, but a shady newspaper agency sends their best reporter out looking for what really happened to them. Soon enough, she learns they are residing at Granny Ruth’s home, and plans to write the story of a lifetime, which would threaten all of the “freaks” living at the home. It is now up to Dwayne, Benile, Granny Ruth, and the rest of the freaks to combat all attempts by the reporter to get her story going, and get rid of her and those who know the truth.
Well, thanks to the cult success of “Basket Case”, it seems Frank Henenlotter finally was able to film with a pretty nice sized budget. The creature effects in this film were a huge improvement and definitely helped this film’s aesthetics to the viewer. We do not see too much gore, just like in “Basket Case”, but are instead shown some fine gore as an after shot to the kill scene. This was one of my complaints against the first film, but thanks to the awesome subject nature I managed to look past it. Those of you looking for an absolute sequel in the vein of the original are not going to find it. While the same two stars return(Dwayne and Benile), this flick is completely different than it’s predecessor. Some of you may like this, such as Frank Henenlotter himself(not all director’s are proud of their films ya know), and some may find problems with this. I personally did not enjoy the silly and loopy feel, but did manage to find some joy in this film to grasp onto.
I really loved the fact that we were given more freaks in this flick. Benile is the film’s selling point, so seeing him accompanied by some pretty awesome looking cohorts was a nice touch. This flick is simple in nature and plot, and I enjoyed that as well. I would have enjoyed this film more if it had gone with the feel of the first film while keeping the same plot, but for some reason I do not understand why that did not happen. For the first time we get some real character development for Benile, and see him exact not only his usual sweet vengeance, but some other things I never would have pictured him doing. Yup, you read that right.
My favorite aspect of this film is definitely the war that is waged between the “freaks” and the reporter and her cohorts. I personally hate nosy reporters, which tend to be nearly ALL reporters, and seeing them suffer at the hands of their own nosiness made me extremely fulfilled. As a matter of fact, that aspect is what really kept me from not enjoying this film at all. Sure I loved that we got more freaks, but if this element has not been executed the way it was then I would have denounced this film entirely. We do not get just Benile doing all of the dirty work on the reporters, but see the freaks work as a team setting up one up for the grisly kill. Awesome. This leads you to really ponder whether or not the “freaks”(notice I constantly use quotation marks on the term) are actually the freaks. Given the media’s continuous obsession over Dwayne and Benile, I would have no problem believing THEY are freaks in this case.
Overall, this is a mediocre watch that I cannot recommend due to it’s zany feel, but will go as far as saying that if you enjoyed the first film, then give this a watch and make your own decision. Benile is still Benile, and if you are annoyed by reporters as much as I am then you should find this film moderately fulfilling, and that entire sequence of events VERY fulfilling.