Something hidden -- go and find it;
Go and look beyond the Ranges
Something lost behind the ranges:
Lost and waiting for you. Go!

-- from Guy Maddin's CAREFUL

Being a periodic meditation on some of the more obscure outlying regions of cinema;
regarding movies that are inadequately publicized and hence, easily overlooked --
and by cinema, it is meant in the larger sense of films/tv/DVD/internet --
that might be worthy of your interest, but perhaps has escaped your notice.


Friday, October 19, 2007


       Movie sequels, as a rule, are never as good as the original films which spawned them -- the exception proving this rule, interestingly enough, happens to be in the Horror genre -- as is the subject of this week’s post; it’s a sequel as well. It’s certainly not a better film than its predecessor; except perhaps in terms of production value and the quality -- and downright inventiveness -- of the make-up effects created for the film. It is, however, being released on DVD just in time for Halloween -- and it does give me an excuse to glob a bit about Frank Henenlotter, a filmmaker whose work I enjoy the heck out of...        so, mehh -- why not write a post about Basket Case 2 ? It’s an entertaining enough little romp.

       Basket Case 2 picks up immediately where the first film left off. Duane and Belial Bradley, the two conjoined twins who were so rudely separated in the first film, are recovering from the injuries they sustained as the result of their... -- uhh, extracurricular activities. They’re rescued -- well kidnapped, really -- by Granny Ruth, a woman whose maternal, nurturing nature compels her to provide care and refuge for “unique individuals” -- “freaks” to you and me -- and so she takes them under her wing. Duane, the normal-looking twin, is easy enough to support; but Belial, his brother -- who sort of looks like a lump of Play-Doh™ with a face and two arms... well something you might refer to as a ‘face’ and ‘two arms’ at any rate -- is another story. Suffice to say, Belial has some major anger-management issues -- and with a couple of reporters hot on the trail of the murderous “Bradley Twins”, it looks like his therapeutic progress is in for a serious setback...

       Frank Henenlotter, the director of Basket Case 2 works out of the NYC area -- and his films are very much the product of “a New York state of mind” -- this isn’t Woody Allen’s New York, or Noah Baumbach’s, or even Martin Scorsese’s, for that matter. It’s the Big Apple of the old 42nd St. -- before its’ Disney-fication, during the hey-day of the independent theater venues -- the Grindhouses. While Tarantino and Rodriguez’s namesake feature was a well-intentioned homage to these types of movies, Henenlotter’s entire oeuvre is a more faithful tribute to this exploitation film tradition. His films don’t always have the ‘tightest’ scripts, but they all juggle humor, horror and a certain amount of titillation in that particular -- and very entertaining -- manner that only exploitation pics can. Basket Case 2 certainly isn’t his best film (that would be Brain Damage, IMHO), but it has alot going for it -- a blackly comic sense of humor; some truly innovative prosthetics (designed by the talented Gabe Bartalos, whose most recent work can be seen in Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle); and the just-plain-wrongest sex scene in the history of cinema.

       Basket Case 2 will be released on DVD (in a widescreen special edition) on October 30th -- the day before Halloween. All of Henenlotter’s other films are currently available on DVD, including Basket Case, the very good prequel to Basket Case 2, and Basket Case 3, the very bad -- and thankfully final -- movie in the series. So, why not take a look inside the basket -- what’s inside is really quite surprising.

Some links:

Frank Henenlotter on the IMDb.

An interview with Frank Henenlotter regarding his latest film project.

Next post -- 10/26/07


jonderneathica said...

Did you see the article in the Onion's AV Club about films that are too painful to watch more than once? It leaned heavily on films with rape scenes, but it's still interesting:

grigorss said...

I did happen to run across that article; I actually quite enjoy reading the Onion A.V. Club -- on the whole, it's a lot more entertaining than most other journalism on the subject. Of the 24 films they list, I've seen thirteen, and own five on DVD (including Audition, which I globbed about a few weeks back). I have to say that I disagree with a number of their choices (seriously intended or no...); The Passion of Joan of Arc is quite a beautiful film, well worth watching more than once. Safe is a very good film -- and not particularly difficult to sit through, IMHO. I will say that the one choice they made that I completely agree with is Gaspar Noé's Irréversible -- it's an effective, but brutal film, and I'm quite sure that I don't want to sit through it again.

sexy said...