DECEMBER 9, 2010
While I wasn't exactly blown away by Basket Case 2, the ending held promise for the next installment, as Duane and Belial were rejoined via an impromptu sewing session. Sadly, Frank Henenlotter apparently didn't like or didn't want to deal with that scenario, so despite opening Basket Case 3 with the complete ending of the previous film (and thus using up 5 minutes or so of what I am quite sure was a contracted 90 minute runtime; the birth scene from the original film is also used yet again to pad the film even more), followed by a few minutes of credits over black, Duane wakes up a few days (weeks, months, who cares) later, sans Belial.
I forget if it was from II to III or III to IV, but one of the Phantasm sequels ended like that, with something really cool (Reggie pinned up behind a bunch of silver spheres) and then it was instantly fixed in the opening scene of the next film. That sort of thing drives me nuts - don't introduce ideas that you have no intention of following through on.
Anyway, with that potentially interesting plot tossed out the window, the film then follows a similar pattern as BC2, with the focus on Granny Ruth and her family of mutants once again keeping Duane and Belial to the sidelines more often than I'd like. It doesn't help that Kevin Van Hentenryck couldn't be bothered to play the character the same way, so Duane now seems sort of mentally challenged (even randomly proclaiming a desire for pancakes at one point).
In fact, the film seems more like just a bunch of random scenes and ideas that were left out of BC2 (or even BC1) that were strung together with a pointless plot about some local cops causing them grief. So while there are some great bits here and there - I particularly loved the fast food joint scene, and the police station massacre is terrific - it's just not particularly engaging, nor does it have 2's occasional sense of creepiness (i.e. the bar scene) to make up for it. I'm sure there were budgetary limitations involved or something, but it's almost hard to believe this is the same guy who made the first film.
Especially when Belial is fitted with an exoskeleton for the film's climax, which made him look like Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's kind of fun, but why go to all that effort when Belial on his own is far more interesting? Plus, he has a bunch of babies in the movie - why not let them get in on the action a bit? It would have been awesome to see them wreaking havoc like Gremlins, but they are mostly confined to a basket or whatever for the bulk of the flick.
Their birth scene is another highlight, because it just keeps going (I forget, I think there's like 12 or 14 of them in total), though it is marred by the Hal character, who annoyingly makes puns and rhymes all of his lines for each and every birth. Whether it was the actor's improv or actually part of the script, each line was more grating and terrible than the last, and ruined what was otherwise an awesome scene. I also would have preferred if Hal was a villain, because he was so big and potentially dangerous (he had 9 arms or something). After two movies, the whole "humans are the real bad guys" thing just got old - surely there are some bad mutants, no?
Oh, and there's a musical number. Someone led me to believe that the film was actually a full blown musical, but it's the only one, and it's not even a new song to boot, so it didn't bother me really - I'd rather a whole busful of singing mutants than yet another scene of Granny talking about how horrible everyone else was and how she'd do anything for her family.
Unlike the other two movies, this one's DVD is completely devoid of features, and it only comes full frame. The DVD is now out of print, but supposedly a special edition is on the way. I wouldn't mind sitting through it again to hear Frank do a commentary, but otherwise once was enough. It's a shame neither of the sequels came anywhere close to the original in terms of creativity or rewatchability; maybe someday Frank and co. can come up with a really good idea (and the money to do it right) and give the series a proper sendoff that lives up to the first film.
What say you?