And so it came to pass that I found Basket Case on DVD. Dutch DVD. No matter. What would go with a film like Basket Case we wondered? Another Frank Henenlotter film? Maybe. Brain Damage was a possibility, but so was Street Trash which, although not a Henenlotter film, kept a certain ‘New York Trash’ consistency. It was a tough choice. But then, life is full of tough decisions. I have ALWAYS been aware of Street Trash, but never had a farking clue what it was all about…until now. And Basket Case? I’ve been wanting to see it for many years, so tonight was a New York Trash virgin initiation for me, while my co-zombies have reached these disgusting levels in years past…
Basket Case (1982)
Plot Guy carries around siamese twin in wicker basket
Zomblee “What’s in the basket?” You may well ask, but you’d better not open it up and take a look, because you’re likely to get mauled by ‘Belial’, misshapen Siamese twin of Duane Bradley.
Basket Case is a pleasure, a micro-budget gem set in the sleazy streets of late 70’s New York. Duane and his aesthetically challenged brother are on a roaring rampage of revenge. Not quite like Kill Bill though. Not like that at all. When Belial roars, he really goes for it! The brothers are basically on the trail of the people responsible for their forced separation when they were teenagers. That’s the plot out of the way.
Full of characters who look like they're not acting, this has got many nice touches, such as naming all the responsible doctors in relation to their role in the separation; i.e. Dr Kutter and Dr Needleman. The animation scenes with Belial are what I was really looking forward to witnessing and suffice to say I was not disappointed! He’s hilarious! Check the scene when Duane kisses the doctor’s receptionist!
Funny, gory, (very) strangely moving, and morally questionable (Belial’s ‘lovemaking’ – couldn’t believe what I was seeing…), Basket Case is a must see if you’re into low budget, resourcefully made horror movies
Rawshark Yes, this is low-budget stuff (in fact at one point the lead pulls out a wad of cash, which according to Henlotter, was the actual budget of the film), but it's all great stuff, largely thanks to an enthusiastic cast, a simple but compeling plot, and a great 'monster'.
Belial really has to be seen to be believed. A deformed freak, he looks like a squashed octopus, but boy, is he one vicious son-of-a-bitch. He manages to kill 5 people in the film, the best being the death of Dr Kutter who gets her tongue ripped out before being stabbed in the face with scalpel blades. The animation of Belial is hilariously bad/good, so much so in fact that when Belial went on his second animated fit towards the end of the film, all of us cheered out loud.
Basket Case is a justified cult-classic and, despite its downbeat ending, managed to spawn two (inferior) sequels. But this is the one that will be remembered, and it should really stand next (or close) to Evil Dead and Night of the Living Dead as an example on what can be achieved with a little money and a lot of creativity.
Jim Absolutely. This is one of them films that you just know half the cast and all the extras have no acting experience whatsoever. Whenever Belial kicks off he makes one hell of a badly-animated racket and the other residents of the hotel always spill out into the corridor to see what's going on, and man are they a weird bunch. Hookers, druggies, winos - they look a little too realistic for my liking. And I especially like the guy who goes for the 'dressing-gown and basketball socks' look, and the hotel clerk who justs curses constantly - brilliant stuff.
I'd seen Basket Case as a kid but I certainly hadn't seen this version, oh no. Some of the obviously 'previously cut' bits were nothing short of gross and I still grimace every time I think of Belial getting jiggy with Duane's ladyfriend, right near the end. Ugh, nasty...
One of the coolest low-budgeters I've ever seen, and even though we had to watch Zomblee's uncut print with the Dutch subtitles on (don't ask), I can't recommend it enough.
Director Frank Henenlotter
Cast Kevin Van Hentenryck
Terri Susan Smith
Robert Vogel Diana Browne
Runtime 91 mins
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Street Trash (1987)
Plot Tramps that drink bad hooch melt and other stories
Zomblee “What the hell’s this? ‘Naked Men Running Night’?”
How very bizarre… both films have scenes of naked men running. Best to forget that as soon as possible then. I have a feeling that we had a pretty solid consensus when it came to Street Trash. The good scenes are terrific. The bad scenes just make you wish you were watching something else. Directed by James Muro (acclaimed steadicam operator who worked on films such as Red Dragon, Titanic, LA Confidential, Heat and Casino, to mention a few!), the film has obvious visual appeal. The film was written by Roy Frumkes, the Romero worshipper who made Document of the Dead, the Romero documentary.
Street Trash is quite hard work, in that I got annoyed by the inconsistencies. Not plot inconsistencies (plot, you say?!), but a massive breach of quality of various scenes. Each great scene is pretty much always followed by an AWFUL scene. There is obvious capability here, and a flair for comedy. The scene when Burt (Clarenze Jarmon) wonders round the supermarket stuffing chicken into his roomy trousers, (to music straight out of The Sting) shouting at an old woman who dares to report him, is so funny that you’ll want to press the rewind button! Why he then proceeds to walk through a glass door is anyone’s guess, but it made us giggle big time.
The question is, does the good outweigh the bad? I think this is what we are perhaps not agreed upon. I would say that the quality scenes make it worth seeing, but some may justifiably argue that the sight of a homeless person being beaten to a pulp at a mens’ urinal, then being vomited on, does not qualify for a “quality scene”. I guess that’s just a matter of taste…
Jim No dude, it wasn't a tramp that the cop beat up and puked on, it was a hitman who was sent to kill the tramp 'hero' by the mob boss, because the tramp hero had just had his very wicked way with the boss's lady, then the other scrapyard tramps killed her, remember?
Do you also remember the fat scrapyard boss who had his wicked way with her after she was dead? And was that scene before or after when the tramps chuck that guys dick around? Yeah - this is that kind of movie - I can't think of a movie that goes so low.
Street Trash is absolutely filthy. It's disgusting. A lot of it is also so fucking dull that I felt like I'd drank the Viper. But then again, a lot of Street Trash is nothing short of brilliant and had me crying with laughter (particularly the doorman sketches) so I can't really slate it too much.
Hey, did you know that Bryan Singer of X-Men fame was a PA on the shoot? No shit...
Rawshark I love this film! If you're looking for high-low-brow, this is where it's at!! Imagine if you will, the mind of John Waters as if filmed by James Cameron and you get Street Trash, and trust me, that's a great thing.
I first saw Street Trash years ago, and have been an avid fan ever since. The camera work (particularly the steadicam work) is outstanding, and is always interesting to watch, even when we're on the boring bits (and don't listen to the other guys, there's not that many of them). Yes, there's dodgy moments (the gang rape of the mobster's wife is pretty grotesque), but that's what explotation cinema's all about - does it deliver the shock.
So what do we get for our buck. Simply lots of nudity, some of the best melt effects ever seen on film, good trashy dialogue ("Very witty, prick-lips"), homeless heroes, Nam flashbacks, a penis-throwing game (!), and a beautifully judged abrupt ending. Oh, but stay tuned, 'cos the end credits sequence (featuring James Lorenz from Frankenhooker and Tony Darrow who later went on to play Sonny Bunz in Goodfellas on the basis of his performance here) is one of the funniest ever in film history. And that's Fact!
Director Jim Muro
Cast Mike Lackey
M. D'Jango Krunch
Runtime 90 mins
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In terms if Street Trash, if I may quote Rawshark, in terms of what “we get for our buck”, New York Trash Night delivered the goods and no mistake! Jim wanted to sample ‘Viper’ while Rawshark was admiring the cinematic aesthetic of Jim Muro, yes, even during the boring bits. And obviously I just remembered the wrong people getting beat up. But that’s the intoxicated nature of Zombie Club. Don’t you just hate it when you get it WRONG?! In all honesty though, most reviews of Street Trash that I have read have stated that it is necessary to drink alcohol whilst watching it. Figure out what you will from that, but its good advice if you ask me.
It seems that there was more agreement when it came to Basket Case. "What we get for our buck" also applies here. "Hit rewind! I gotta see that bit again!" Henenlotter’s mini-masterpiece did everything it should and inspired so much laughter that it probably won the ZC Film of the Night Award. Guys, I hope you agree with me on this one…and Jim, if you make me look unprofessional again I’ll pour some Viper in your wineglass at the next Zombie Club.