THE ZONE have my review of Frank Henenlotter’s low-budget cult Horror movie Basket Case.
Basket Case is an odd little film whose eccentricities are clearly the product of an era when directors and producers were happy to try anything in the hope that it might attract an audience. In this case, what the director tries is to enliven what is an otherwise unimpressive monster movie with a series of Freudian motifs about the savagery within and the dangerous of hidden trauma:
The connection between the boy and the monster is also made clear at the film’s climax when the boy is forced to literally wrestle with his desire and hatred in order to save the woman he loves. Though somewhat unevenly handled, the suggestion that the monster represents the boy’s hidden desires transforms Basket Case from a poorly made monster movie to a poorly made psychodrama.
However, as I sat down to write this it occurred to me that my attempt to place Basket Case in some sort of historical context was actually validating what can now be thought of as something of a baby boomer origin myth. Indeed, consider films like Corman’s World, Midnight Movies and Not Quite Hollywood all share this image of 1970s exploitation film-making as a sort of Wild West where ambitious young film makers broke rules and made reputations. While this vision of the 1970s as The-Darwinian-Swamp-from-which-Modern-Hollywood-Did-Crawl is quite evocative it does occur to me that it has emerged at a time when many of those ambitious kids are not only in positions of power but also nearing the end of their careers. After all, how better to lionise a fading Baby Boomer generation than to suggest that their rise to prominence came at a time when real talent was rewarded? Not like nowadays when it’s all about social connections and luck… ahem.