"I can’t do it tonight honey. I’m pregnant. In fact, I’ve been pregnant for six years!”
-Dialogue from Basket Case 3: The Progeny
I admit it: Until I watched this one, I had not yet seen any of Frank Henelotter’s infamous Basket Case trilogy. I consider this a considerable hole in my film education, and I have no excuses, especially given how fond I am of Henenlotter’s other films Frankenhooker, Brain Damage, and Bad Biology. Well, I’ll have you know that I have finally completed my coursework, and I have tucked into Basket Case 3: The Progeny with gusto.
Oh how glad I am that I did. Basket Case 3, on DVD today for the first time, is a brain-melting rubbery wonderment of bizarro low-budget horror comedy that strikes an oddball like me in the most satisfying way. Not since Alex Winter’s Freaked has a film looked and felt like this. Basket Case 3, while still the weakest in the series, is still a bonkers odyssey of gore and cheap monster effects that looks like Robert William’s id spilled out onto the screen. Each character looks like a Basil Woolverton drawing, all deliriously mutated, but oddly pleased to have a set of teeth larger than a rack of lamb. Some characters are mere lumps of gooey flesh, spewing gloppy mucous sound effects, and are perfectly pleased to be that way. As Devo would say: Not necessarily beautiful, but mutated.
If you don’t know Frank Henenlotter, then you may not be prepared for this film. Henenlotter got his start in the Brooklyn scene back in the 1970s, drawn to the films of Herschel Gordon Lewis. His first film was the first Basket Case, which was about a man named Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) who has a huge scar on his ribcage from where a team of doctor removed his conjoined twin brother Belial as a boy. Belial is still alive, but is a two-foot tall lump with a human face, a single spindly arm, and a claw. The film is about the twins taking revenge on the doctors that separated them. The second film is more of the same, but ramped up, taking place in the big city, and throwing in a secret society of ultra-mutated freaks to take care of Belial.
Basket Case 3 takes place in that same enclave of freaks, still being led by Granny Ruth (Annie Ross), who sings to her freaks and makes sure they’re okay. Duane is still around, but is not allowed to speak to Belial after an unfortunate impromptu surgery incident. Belial has been shacking up with a monster named Eve (Denise Coop), and has impregnated her (don’t ask how; the film will show you). It’s now up to Granny to take to the road to find a doctor, and keep the freaks safe in time for Eve’s birth.
The birth scene is a sight to behold. I can’t really describe the twisted, gooey pleasure of watching a lump of rubbery monster spewing blood and amniotic fluid out of its orifices while others look on and coo and the unholy offspring. It’s like a scene from a Troma movie, but done with complete sincerity. And if that wasn’t enough for you, just wait for the end-of-the-film rampage. How did they get that one guy’s eyes to do that?
The film isn’t as raw or as fun as its predecessors; the budget was clearly a little smaller this time around, and the jokey tone may strike some in the wrong way. But Basket Case 3 is still an oddball classic in its own right. Henenlotter is one of those mad auteurs who can’t help but make fleshy and frantic horror films like this one.
No features on the disc other than the trailer. The film, however, speaks largely for itself.
Put it in and wait 90 minutes. Your eyes themselves will change.