Features and Columns · Movies

Separation Anxiety: The Anatomy of the ‘Basket Case’ Trilogy

“What’s in the basket? Easter eggs?”
Basket Case
Basket Case Productions
By  · Published on June 7th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on the Basket Case movies.

If you’re the kind of person whose interest is piqued by a movie like Basket Case, you’ve probably done your fair share of dumpster diving in the sleazier sections of genre film. It can be tricky to explain the appeal of seedy cinematic offerings to those with, uh, standards. But I think it boils down to this: Young, enthusiastic filmmakers who make low-budget genre offerings because they just want to make a movie are really special. They radiate with the contagious optimism of creativity for creativity’s sake. For all their on-screen nastiness, films like Street Trash and Maniac Cop are joyful experiences because you can tell that everyone involved was having a blast.

There has been and always will be a market for horror. But many filmmakers begin their careers without a commercial end in mind. They want to make movies about co-dependent homicidal twins … one of whom lives in a basket. Basket Case was Frank Henenlotter‘s feature film debut. Balancing gritty, near-dystopic visions of New York City with endearingly ridiculous schlock, the 1982 original spawned two sequels that took things in a decidedly campier direction: 1990’s Basket Case 2, which remains Henenlotter’s greatest commercial success to date, and 1991’s Basket Case 3: The Progeny, the movie that arguably led to the director’s seventeen-year hiatus from the industry.

As the video essay below lays out in engrossing detail, the Basket Case trilogy is one wild ride. And buried beneath all the blood, guts, and musical numbers (yes, musical numbers), is a surprisingly wholesome message about acceptance, trauma, and the importance of community.

Watch “Basket Case | Anatomy of a Franchise“:

Who made Basket Case | Anatomy of a Franchise?

This video on the Basket Case movies comes to us from In Praise of Shadows, a video essay channel run by Zane Whitener and based in Asheville, North Carolina. The channel focuses on horror, history, and retrospectives. Under their “Anatomy of a Franchise” banner, they break down horror properties including Tremors, The Stepfather, and Re-Animator in addition to Basket Case. You can check out the series’ playlist here. And you can subscribe to the In Praise of Shadows YouTube channel here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.