The next time somebody derides the existence of sequels I’m going to bring up BASKET CASE 2 as an example of their worth. The original BASKET CASE really didn’t need any expansion, it’s a solid standing entity and part of its tragic appeal is owed to the fact that both of its main characters kick the bucket (or basket) at the end…but what if they didn’t? With a more reasonable budget, a now more confident director and all that pesky “getting to know you” stuff out of the way, wouldn’t it be nice to see what the Bradley boys are up to these days?
Even though BASKET CASE 2 was filmed nearly a decade after its predecessor, director HENENLOTTER miraculously pulls off the near impossible feat of staging his continuation at the precise moment the first movie left off. Cleverly he turns the tables on the Bradleys by allowing “normal” brother Duane to feel the pangs of not fitting in and introducing misfit mutant brother Belial into a world of acceptance and finally romantic love. Throughout the course of the film we are introduced to a gallery of new monsters each more fantastic than the last; all are hideous upon introduction and all are lovable as muppets by movie’s end.
BASKET CASE 2 rather than hovering, whisks its characters into an entirely new situation and rather than retracing its steps, expands upon the original film and its themes. Some of its charming grittiness may be gone, but in its place are a breezy nonchalance and a comfortable ownership of its own ridiculousness. If you’re looking for scares you’re better off looking in Aunt John’s sock drawer, the fun here is identifying with the monsters and enjoying a cathartic thrill as they put their oppressors in their place. As with the original film, HENENLOTTER’s admiration of oddballs is both apparent and contagious.
Speaking of oddballs, the real break out star of BASKET CASE 2 has got to be ANNIE ROSS who plays Granny Ruth (you may also remember ANNIE from her Trauma nominated turn in SUPERMAN 3). Surrounded by monstrosities and grotesque special effects she still maintains the title of most fascinating creature in the room. A mother messiah devoted to nurturing a brood of outcasts, granny Ruth’s ferocious battle cry when her cubs are threatened may be the highlight of the film.
As cutting edge as BC2’s monster designs were in 1990, the real strength of the film relies on a tradition that goes back to the classic monsters of Universal. As in the first film, great effort is made to look beyond appearances and into the hearts of those deemed abnormal. It is a gallant gesture found surprisingly often in a genre many perceive as crass and insensitive, and ironically, an occurrence in the real world that is freakishly rare.