Basket Case 2
For a movie about a boy and his vicious, misshapen, telepathic, separated Siamese-twin brother, 1982’s Basket Case was surprisingly, um, charming. The cut-rate production quality was offset by a script that was as witty as the movie was gory.
<p. That kind of balance is often lost in sequels. But B-movie auteur Frank Henenlotter has a budget to match his talent this time, and the result is a terrific little screamer that outdoes the original. No sooner have the credits ended when Duane (normal bro) and Belial (mutant bro on the lam for the first film's murders) are kidnapped by kindly Granny Ruth (played by jazz singer Annie Ross). She runs a home for ill-treated mutations where the brothers hide out with a crew that makes the cast of Freaks look like the folks of Our Town. Belial even lands a girlfriend. But then a nosy reporter prompts him to hit the warpath again.
Director Henenlotter is no cynical horror hack. In 1988’s Brain Damage, he slipped an unpretentious antidrug allegory into a hilarious plot about brain-eating parasites. In Basket Case 2 he quietly questions our idea of normalcy in ways that are funny, startling, campy, and genuinely unnerving.
There’s still plenty of carnage and junk-movie laughs. But it’s a mark of this movie’s thoughtful subversiveness that by the time Duane goes after his killer brother with a baseball bat, the audience may be rooting for the mutant.