Fringe cinema weirdness!

Posts by cineschlocker

Basket Case

What critic Rex Reed howled in revulsion, filmmaker Frank Henenlotter wore as a bloody badge of honor. Rex ravaged Basket Case (1981, 91 minutes) as “the SICKEST movie I’ve ever seen!” Henenlotter knew such righteous indignation was gold to the exploiteer as he’d been worshiping at the B-cinemas of New York City’s 42nd Street since he was old enough to cut school.

However, Frank was thwarted by his own distributors who neutered the flick’s blood and gore with initially disastrous box office results. It wasn’t until its meaty plot was restored that a cult following began to build around the picture, thanks in large part to a cunning manipulation of the home video boom. The goretur often points with nostalgic glee that the bank roll seen in the flick is a large portion of its total $35,000 budget.

The movie: A tale of two exceedingly unusual brothers that’s rich with vengeance, lust and inexplicable charm. Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) is a tall, lanky kid who wanders into the seedy Hotel Broslin toting a large wicker basket. He pays for Room 7 from an enormous wad of cash, then lugs his heavy cargo upstairs, under the prying gaze of suspicious and perhaps devious onlookers. Not long afterward, Duane begins talking to something, rather, SOMEONE inside the basket who snarls and quakes while being fed a sack of hamburgers — wrappers and all. That someone, as any CineSchlocker already knows, is Duane’s very tiny and very ferocious bubba Belial. The two are in town to systematically chew — one of them quite literally — through a gaggle of quack physicians they were wronged by many years before. Their wrath is ravenous and even, well, creative. Like when Belial turns a broad into a human porcupine with his gnarled fist full of scalpels. In a Shakespearian twist, all this revelry is complicated when Duane falls for a bright-eyed receptionist (Terri Susan Smith) with a revolving door on her virtue and a dime-store wig. Belial is enraged by and jealous of his brother’s Romeo antics which, fueled by his own sexual frustration, spawns a murderous rift between them with obvious Biblical parallels.

Despite the flick’s grim finale, the first of two increasingly wacky sequels finds our pint-sized terror continuing his search for romantic fulfillment among his own ilk at a bizarro commune of sideshow oddities (think Clive Barker meets Sid & Marty Krofft). While Basket Case 3: The Progeny follows the fruit of Belial’s loins in an apparent ode to Larry Cohen‘s immortal It’s Alive franchise.

Notables: Two breasts. Eight corpses. Monster cam. Nekkid dream sequence with untethered wangdoodle. Eye gobbling. Lock picking. Toilet diving. Hypodermic closeups. Apartment trashing. Gratuitous visit to Statue of Liberty. Boozing.

Quotables: Tenant taunts the young stranger, “[You’re] all alone in this cold, CRUEL world.” Sharon can’t believe a strapping fella like Duane is single, “Don’t they have girls up state?!” Duane lovingly describes his brother, “He’s deformed! He’s a freak! He looks like a squashed octopus!” There’s just been too much excitement for the Broslin’s manager, “This isn’t a hotel! It’s a nut house!!!”

Time codes: First of five people to ask “What’s in the basket?” (5:34). Feeding time at the Hotel Broslin (9:20). Kung fu scene from The Bodyguard (22:10). First clear look at Belial (31:06). Stop-motion creature animation by Henenlotter (36:55). The shocking origin of these troubled brothers (49:00). Belial returns to his basket after a midnight panty raid (1:09:48). Frank’s dedication to gore legend Herschell Gordon Lewis (1:30:50).

Final thought: Rex was only half right. Basket Case is an undeniable, unavoidable and unforgettable clasSICK. An absolute must own for any self-respecting CineSchlocker.

What’s New? (Drag Me to Hell, Martyrs, Burrowers)

As if proof were needed, Drag Me To Hell reaffirms Sam Raimi‘s mastery of all that is evil and dead. Especially the ooey gooey bits. Wormy maggot puke. Geriatric denture slobber. Projectile nosebleeds. Lorna Raver outshines Jason, Michael AND Freddy as a boogeygranny with an evil eye and a can-do attitude. Alison Lohman is the accursed eye candy who won’t go down to H-E-double hockey sticks without a fight. ("Here kitty, kitty.") Lots of soundtrack scares to be sure, however what’s on the screen is fiercely frightful fun too. Loved, loved, loved the ending. At last the curse of contemporary horror is lifted with this crescendo! There’s no Bruce Campbell cameo, but the Delta 88’s present, naturally.

While "torture porn" is an overused term, Martyrs more than earns the tag and must surely be the inevitable outcome of depraved and diminishing returns. It has style and Hostel-esque nihilism but frankly, the abuses the audience and the female leads are asked to endure simply aren’t justified by the flick as a whole. Not by a tossed-off, religious zealotry ending presumably meant to provide some context to the carnage. Where I Spit on Your Grave answered its horrors with ruthless revenge shared by the victim and the audience, Martyrs inexcusably wallows in sick, senseless sadism masquerading as a brave masterstroke of hardcore horror.

On the surface, The Burrowers has promise as a spurs ‘n’ six-guns throwback blended with a subterranean creature feature. Below said surface, however, it’s just a downright bore. Mostly due to the weird, chomp-now-eat-later modus operandi of the "burrowers" themselves. What little is eventually seen of them is hardly inspired critter craftsmanship as well. Gives The Mole People a whole new street cred.

What’s New? (Zombie Girl, Pathogen, Dungeon Masters)

At age 12, Emily Hagins of Austin, Texas wrote, directed and edited her first feature, Pathogen, a zombie movie. Zombie Girl: The Movie is a wonderful tag-along documentary of Emily’s two-year odyssey making Pathogen as well as a charming portrait of a mother-daughter relationship many would envy. Zombie Girl is on the festival circuit and due on DVD soon. Professionally mastered DVDs of Emily’s film (complete with commentaries and bloopers) are available for the bargain price of just $8 at Pathogen earned the 2009 Texas Frightmare Weekend Audience Award and there’s zero doubt CineSchlockers will agree! Emily’s next feature, The Retelling, is nearly complete. It’s a ghost story.

Also at festivals is The Dungeon Masters, a warts and all, but mostly wart’d look at three "Dungeons & Dragons" role players whose passion for the worlds they create vibrate between triumphant and tragic. Elizabeth Reesman is the standout if only for her proclivity for donning Spock ears, a platinum mane and slathering every visible inch of her flesh with black grease paint. Think Mazes and Monsters meets Crumb.

What’s New? (Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine 3D, Cold Prey)

Three flicks — all featuring homicidal maniacs with an unnatural affinity for really, really pointy things. Ah, Freud would be amused.

Friday the 13th is BACK in multiplexes this weekend, which come to think of it, isn’t all that surprising considering The Big Guy returned for his ninth sequel IN SPACE and an overly ballyhoo’d grudge match against Freddy Krueger. Yet from the exceedingly vicious opening reel, CineSchlockers will readily recall why this murderous mama’s boy holds a special spot in our little black hearts. Boy howdy, does Jason ever have his machete mojo back — and then some. Big as a house. Faster than Willa Ford popping her top. Mean as hell. Jason Voorhees is truly a bad motherf@#%er in what’s easily the best of the recent rash of remakes. Definitely see this sucker with an audience.

As undeniably memorable as the aforementioned Ms. Ford’s topless water skiing on Crystal Lake is, Betsy Rue bests that spectacle in a SIX-MINUTE birthday-suit brouhaha inside and outside a midget-managed no-tell motel in My Bloody Valentine 3D. Goes right up there with Linnea Quigley doing her hippy, hippy shake atop a tombstone in Return of the Living Dead. Best of all, both tapping AND kicking ass au natural was Betsy’s idea. Take that Susie Strasberg!

Finally, by way of Norway, a deranged Yukon Cornelius whets his ice axe with castoffs from The Hills: Oslo Edition. (That’s right, ICE axe. Not to be confused with The Miner’s pick axe or Jason’s double-headed lumber liquidator.) Unfortunately, CineSchlockers unseduced by Cold Prey‘s breathtaking Scandinavian mountain vistas or suspense-over-substance pacing will no doubt wonder if the first human Popsicle is ever gonna get popped.

What’s New? (Stag, Let the Right One In, The Walking Dead)

Good to know my close, personal friend Tommy Habeeb is still up to Beelzebub’s business. The legendary Cheaters host has cultivated Stag: Last Night of Freedom into a bona fide deep, dark cable hit. Particularly among attention-starved engagement ring gazers willing to wager their booze-addled hubbies-to-be won’t go ape poopie in the face (or nethers) of not-so-taut temptresses. Naturally, with a titillating title such as Stag: Topless Treasures Uncensored one expects (and gets) a leering "Grooms Gone Wild" bachelor party ride along. Yet, as with Cheaters, the 24-karat gold gleams most blindingly when Tommy presents his tattle-tale video to deliciously devastated, alternately ENRAGED bridezillas. Hell hath no fury, indeed!

Let the Right One In is easily the best horror movie (with heart) since May. Sink your fangs deeper into Oskar and Eli’s beautifully blood-soaked serenade by investing in the original novel. It’s certain to enhance CineSchlockers appreciation of the film as an adaptation, while also expanding the richness of the story.

However, if like yours truly, your preferred reading has more pictures than words, check out The Walking Dead — a fantastic comic series which, better than any film, explores the human drama of a post-zombie apocalypse world. CineSchlockers will care about these "survivors" and their losses and (meager) advances truly become your own. Issue 56, which just published, celebrates five years of the monthly series and, thoughtfully, issues 1-48 have been beautifully collected in four hardcovers.

Red Carpet: The Devil’s Rejects

download mp3 (15 mins, 9 mb)

Join your representative among the leering press on the blood red carpet at the San Diego Comic-Con premiere of The Devil’s Rejects. Featuring interviews with Wayne Toth, Brian Posehn, Bill Moseley, William Forsythe, Lew Temple, Danny Trejo, Ken Foree, Sid Haig, Sheri Moon Zombie and Leslie Easterbrook. 

Hear from ’em all! Well, except for Rob Zombie.

Tough break there. But, hey, 2001 Maniacs director Tim Sullivan was a dern good sport when quizzed about his potentially blasphemous Herschell Gordon Lewis update.




Comic-Con 2004: Costumes

Celebrities / Vendors / Costumes / Return to Story

Like The Force, Elvis, is all around us. Even in a galaxy far, far away.


Boba and pals apprehend some rebel scum.


Security’s tight at the Lucas pavilion.


You are one ugly …


Original dynamic duo duds!


Forgive me, I’m a longtime G.I. Joe nerd. "COOBRRAAA!!!"


Awww. Cobra’s lil’est recruit.


Think this line is long? You’re only seeing about a THIRD of it! They all have tickets to the annual costume extravaganza. I didn’t. Sob! Oh well, maybe next year. Have any questions or comments about my Comic-Con coverage? Feel free to drop me a note!

Comic-Con 2004: Celebrities

Celebrities / Vendors / Costumes / Return to Story

Ladies and gents, we have COREY CONVERGENCE!!! Corey Feldman and Corey Haim tout The Lost Boys special edition.


Seduction Cinema sensation and CineSchlocker muse Julian Wells makes her first convention appearance.


Guess I’m her No. 1 fan, as yours truly is the first to recognize rising Seduction Cinema starlet Andrea Davis.


B-deity Sid Haig was reintroduced to a new generation of fans as the furiously foul-mouthed Cap’n Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses.


Kickin’ it with the Jigsaw Killer’s malevolent minion from Saw.


Kane Hodder, the man behind Jason’s hockey mask, indulges his Project: Metalbeast fan.


Welcome to Tromaville! Toxic auteur Lloyd Kaufman, B-royal Debbie Rochon and penis-monster-packin’ Jamie Greco hail Tales from the Crapper!!!


I met Daisy Duke! I met Daisy Duke!


Erin Gray made getting flung hundreds of years into the future not such a bad thing after all in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.


Director John Landis suggests I pull his finger.


Dog Soldiers fans: "Can we keep him, mom!?! PLLLLEEEEEEEASE!!!"


Lions Gate photo op! Saw producer Gregg Hoffman with Open Water stars Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis.

Comic-Con 2004: Vendors

Celebrities / Vendors / Costumes / Return to Story



… GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Easily the convention’s strangest sight. Believe it or not, this beauty behind glass is in promotion of Species III. Hence the serpentine appendage?


Ah, now SHE looks more familiar. (Notice the black tape over certain naughty bits?)


Yours truly frozen in carbonite.


There’s also a Lego-based VIDEO GAME headed to the Star Wars universe.


Ooooo. Black velvet. Dramatic lighting. Where do I send my credit card info?


Alien vs. Predator was all the rage at Comic-Con. The NECA booth had lots of great McFarlane prototypes.


Take Jessica Biel home thanks to McFarlane’s Texas Chainsaw line.


Can almost smell that chainsaw, can’t ya?


NECA’s treasured Comic-Con exclusives: Quentin Tarantino as a "Crazy 88 Director" and The Springwood Slasher (a.k.a. Freddy Krueger).


More Kill Bill goodness.


Well, s@#& the bed! It’s Captain Spaulding!


NECA’s full and half-size Christmas Story leg lamps! Can I borrow 180 bucks?


Where’s Sigourney when you need her?


Sideshow Collectibles says "GIVE US A KISS!" (And $850 for this fullsize Predator bust.)


Mr. Voorhees can be yours for $275.


Start saving your nickles for this T-800 endoskeleton. No word on the price yet, but Sideshow sells the ARM for $500.


Sideshow’s Planet of the Apes figures are a bit too Barbie-esque ($75).


Sure, everyone wants Mulder and Scully … gimme Frank Black ($45)!


Hey, kiddies, be the envy of the lunchroom!


Here are McFarlane’s AvP figures at actual size. There’s also a kick ass, 12-inch "stealth" Predator exclusive to Musicland, Sam Goody, Suncoast and Media Play.


The Dukes of Anime?


Two different figure makers featured Battlestar Galactica lines. This 12-inch Cylon is by Majestic Studios.


Majestic’s Munsters!




Who knew those damn, dirty apes were into S&M?


Very cool 3D poster sculpture.


Why be afraid of the dark? These fellas take American Express!


Honestly, who has $900 to spend on a Nautilus model?


This double-size Toxie mock up is expected from SOTA Toys this fall.


OK, OK … better tap the comic base! Look it! Satan Gone Wild from Asylum Press.


Joyride Studios show’d off their American Chopper figures. They’ve also got a line of original Battlestar Galactica figures and SHIPS awaiting approval.


Coming soon to a theater near you — Roadkill Zoo!


Be a Halloween hit with this rubber Predator mask with removable helmet ($60).

Chiller 2003: Costumes

Celebrities / Costumes / Vendors / Return to Story

The Saturday night costume contest is the zenith of any Chiller weekend, especially the Halloween expo. Here diminutive incarnations of Leatherface, Jason and Freddy await their public.


Tragically, moments later, these three inadvertently crossed streams and irradiated a fellow fan garbed in a tragically unhip SpongeBob SquarePants getup.




Scarecrow? Grim Reaper? Regardless, he’s mighty tall!


She may look like a fairy princess, but rumor has it, there’s a REASON he’s sporting extra athletic support.


Ghouls night out?


Poor hen-pecked Tippi!!!


Whatever you say, buddy.


In this case, fur really IS murder!


"Hey! Hey!" Krusty had a rather curvaceous "sock monkey" on his freakishly enormous arm.


KISS army in the house.


Remember kids, not all draft beers are created equal.


Geppetto had nothing to do with the creation of this little nightmare.


Is she they mean when they say "whore-y" netherworld?


Poor Dorothy? You should see what the Tin Man did to little Toto just steps away.


Takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters!


It’s best to stand clear when Bubba Sawyer does his chainsaw two-step.


Yo! Who ordered the 400-pound ogre?


See what Clive Barker‘s unfettered imagination hath wrought?


If Hunter S. Thompson is a doctor of journalism, that’d make yours truly a junior assistant janitor. Kudos to this fella’s commitment to the character, as he SHAVED HIS HEAD to mimic male-pattern baldness just like Mr. Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.


Arrrr! Avast ye Pirates of the Caribbean.


Who even knew they made multi-speed flashlights?