The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Basket Case (1982)

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I'd been meaning to make this one happen for a long time, and I'm not sure what has kept me from it. This was a video store classic, that gross, cult, 80s horror flick with tons of blood and gore, and some stop-animation that left a little to be desired-- but we thought it was great for that reason. They don't make 'em like this anymore for one reason or another, and that's too bad.

Basket Case follows a kid named Duane from upstate as he makes his way in the big, scary, New York City. He looks like a poor man's Marc Bolan, and he carries a wad of cash and a large wicker basket around with him everywhere. What is in there? And what is he doing in the city?

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As I mentioned above, this is vintage. It starts off with a guy in a remote house, yelling into a phone and screaming for his life. It's more like a guy who's pissed that someone is bothering him or egging his house than someone afraid for his life. From there's he's brutally dispatched by a rubbery gloved demon-like hand. And the movie just spends the next hour and twenty minutes living up that promising start. So few horror movies can deliver what they're selling, but Basket Case does. This is great 80s low-budget horror that is exactly what you're looking for.

I'm tired of being told that movies like Hatchet II are somehow saving the horror genre, or giving me the kind of horror I knew and loved from the 80s, because they aren't. I'm going to let you know how many minutes of Basket Case were wasted with bad conversations about the names Chad and Cleetus: zero. I'm going to tell you how much of the film was wasted with bad jokes that went on too long: zero. I'm going to tell you how much of this film felt forced, or overly indulgent, or like it was trying to hard to sell me something it wasn't: none of it. To put it in terms the kids can understand: Basket Case greater than Hatchet II.

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On the other hand, before I get too carried away with 80s are better than '10s, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the bad stop animation, which was hilarious. There's a scene where the Basket Case guy flips out and destroys Duane's room. It was like a bad Herbie Hancock video. I know, I spend a lot of time on here saying that I'd rather see stop animation or other effects instead of CGIs, but a big reason for that is that I think directors get lazy with CGIs; here, we were looking at an instance where CGIs-- or maybe a bigger budget-- would've made the scene look better. Of course, it could've been made to look bad on purpose too, and in that case, it totally worked.

That brings me to a confession: when I first saw this, when I was like 8 or 9, I thought it sucked. In fact, I thought a lot of these schlock horror flicks sucked. If it didn't have Freddy or Jason or Michael Myers, chances are me and my little buddies would've thought it sucked. Okay, we also liked Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It wasn't until I was in high school that I really got into great ones like these, when films like Evil Dead and Bad Taste had taught me to not be so mainstream/big budget in my horror tastes-- not that I don't still love the Jason and Freddy flicks too.

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I think I brought this up in the 1990 Bronx Warriors post, but I think it's worth mentioning again (plus, who knows how many of you actually read that one considering I wrote it over two years ago). I love these old shots of what Times Square looked like pre-Bubba Gump's Shrimp themed restaurant and whatnot. I've never been to Times Square period, but when you compare these images with the ones today outside TV shows and whatnot, you can see a lot more character in the former. This was the rough place that you could set a movie like this and make it work. What would it be today, the hero carrying his basket outside of the Today Show set? "Hey Al, I'm Duane from Glen Falls, New York!"

This is currently on Watch Instantly, which is where I made it happen for this review. As far as DVD vs. VHS, there's actually no benefit to getting this on DVD, no extras, a full screen port, so if you're a VHS nostaligist, you won't be missing anything by sticking with the VCR. Hopefully someday they'll give this the full treatment, commentary, deleted scenes, etc.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083624/

14 comments:

  1. Good review of a classic film. I have a DVD that was released by Something Weird back in 2001. There's a good amount of extras on there, including a commentary.

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  2. No shit? That's good to know, because the one Netflix offers has nothing, just the film, full screen too. Maybe the 2001 one's out of print?

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  3. The Something Weird Special edition is about to come out on Blu Ray also with all the features.

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  4. I don't have a Blu-Ray player, but that's still really good news. This is a movie that deserves that kind of treatment.

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  5. Dude! Props for the Hatchet II dissing! Click on over to my site 'cause I just wrote that one up too and was way less than satisfied. How can you have a throwback movie that's not really a throwback? Twice?

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  6. The thing that upset me about Hatchet II was that such a huge chunk it was just a bunch of bad jokes that didn't know when to stop. As I said in my review of it, they felt like that guy who tells a bad joke, and when I don't respond with the hysterical laughter he was looking for, he either hits me on the arm and says "get it? get it?" or he tries to tell it over and over until I cave and laugh harder. It was more annoying than funny.

    The kills in Hatchet II were fantastic, but if a movie is like 85 minutes long, and 45 of that is taken up with crap, what am I really watching? That's not a throwback to when horror was good.

    I'll definitely check out your review. I'm sure we're in total agreement.

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  7. Great review! Love Basket Case! Classic 80s horror flick. They don't make them like that anymore.

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  8. Good stiff, man. The sequels are worth checking out as well. Not exactly great films, but the director certainly has a unique vision.

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  9. Classic! I love this one, but I never saw the sequences ...

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  10. Terrific write-up. BC is one of my all-time favorites. Incredibly, it gets better every time I see it. Whenever I find out a friend of mine hasn't seen it, I put in on without discussion. Every time I make another convert.

    I used to have this on Beta. There's just something so... 80's about watching Basket Case on Beta.

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  11. This review is spot on! Basket Case is amazing. That scene you speak of with the stop motion...I had to watch it 3 times I was laughing so hard. It's simply priceless.

    The Something Weird DVD is pretty awesome. There's a ton of cool features. I recommend it. Sadly...it is full screen. And Something Weird IS putting out the bluray...but the bluray is just the DVD on bluray. Maybe the picture is better? I Don't know but I checked out the press release and the features and everything matched up with my DVD copy. I'd wait on the bluray.

    I would like to defend Hatchet 2 some. I get why people would hate it but I don't see it as a throwback. I think they are meant as a spoof. The Hatchet movies take everything cliche about an 80s slasher and overdo it. So killing people with a chainsaw...kill them with a 6 foot chainsaw, etc. I do agree that they progress too slowly but maybe that's part of the joke? Does it work? For me it does. I appreciated what Green was trying to do. Is it the savior of horror...umm no way. Do I love it? Yes I do. I thought it was funny that the lead character was replaced in the sequel...that is pretty cliche in horror itself. I hope he did that on purpose.

    Anyway. You're completely right that Basket Case owns Hatchet 1 AND 2. I'd take the first half of Basket Case over Hatchet 1 and/or 2 anyday.

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  12. I love these films because they are so freaking weird, and because the actors and places that Henenlotter shoots in feel real, the actors look like he picked them off 42nd street or something!

    Plus, these films are just so freaking weird...the sequels only get crazier. Highly recommend you check out Frankenhooker if you want to have some fun!

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  13. I didn't even know there were sequels! And Frankenhooker was great!

    DTVC - we have to agree to disagree on Danielle Harris. I'm no judge of quality though - I still find Tara Reid intriguing.

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  14. The sequels and Frankenhooker are definitely on my radar, so we'll make that happen. I love Henenlotter's use of NYC. The only other one of his I've done is Brain Damage, which was good, but not anywhere near the gem this was. And a BETA? That's gangstah. My parents were too poor to own a VCR in the BETA era, so I didn't see one until a buddy showed me his parents' in high school. I wonder if he still has all of those tapes.

    As far as Hatchet II, I went back to my old review, and while I did say it was an improvement on the first one, and I loved the kills, I just can't forgive it for so much wasted crap, and I think in using something like this, which is a pretty universal awesome, it makes for a good juxtaposition. I can't forgive the fact that Hatchet II inundated us with bad dialog and bad plot exposition for way too much time. Even when Basket Case did its flashback, it wasn't anything too heavy, and it came after a lot of action. I just think we should expect a certain level of quality in our movies before we anoint them as something great.

    I can see Tara Reid. I'd like to see what Harris could've done with better material. Having to act opposite the unfunny "I want milk and cookies" guy couldn't have been easy. Harris isn't going to win any Oscars, but for a low-budget horror flick, she's serviceable.

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