Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Making Monsters #15: Basket Case

I've realized, writing this series, that the key to a successful special effect has less to do with the specific technique used than the conviction the filmmakers put into making it believable. Basket Case is a perfect example. It's the story of Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) and Belial, a pair of Siamese twins who take murderous revenge on the doctors who surgically separated them. Belial is horribly deformed, non-verbal (he communicates with Duane telepathically) and lives in a basket. It's a low-budget film, and Belial brought to life by the filmmakers with a puppet and stop-motion effects. Objectively speaking, Belial is a Boglin that occasionally turns into an angry Plasticine Wallace figure left in the sun. And yet I completely believe and care about Belial as a character when I'm watching Basket Case, thanks to Van Hentenryck's performance and director Frank Henenlotter's obvious investment in his characters and story. While Basket Case is tongue-in-cheek, it's obviously fueled by Henenlotter's love of exploitation movies - he has a lot of love for that ugly puppet, and so do I.

Consider the following scene. Belial is angry that Duane has gone on a date with a young receptionist, and he takes it out on their hotel room. From a technical standpoint, this scene is completely ridiculous. But watch it and tell me it doesn't make your day immediately and exponentially better. I know mine is. I love you, Belial.

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