Basket Case

Basket Case


This low-budget drive-in hit spawned two bigger budget sequels. It occupies a certain place in horror history, and is surprisingly compelling despite its low production value. Find out why by listening to this week’s episode.

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Basket Case (1982)

Episode 46, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd:  Hello, and welcome to another episode of 2 Guys in a chainsaw. I’m Todd. 

Craig:  And I’m Craig. 

Todd:  And Todd, we went back to 1982 for the Frank Hennenlotter film Basket Case. This is one strange movie. Don’t you think, Craig? 

Craig:  It is. It’s so weird. I had seen it one time before and, I remembered, you know, thinking how bizarre it was. But I was excited to go back and watch it again. And I don’t know what it is about this movie. In many ways, it’s pretty darn bad. But in a lot of ways, it’s really compelling Todd, and I I can’t quite put my finger quite on why. 

Todd:  Well, it’s kind of a unique concept, you know, at least at the time. I think there was another film that came out a little before this called It Lives, back in the seventies, about a kid who was born, who was kind of this rabid creature and small, but could attack people. This isn’t quite the same thing, but the idea that you have this Siamese twins that are separated at birth, and this guy’s carrying around his his twin in a basket, and, his twin, of course, is deformed and kills people. It’s just a quirky idea for a movie in the first place, and, so the subject matter, I think, lends some of that to it. But I think the other part of this movie is just that it’s it has a lot of heart. This is somebody’s first movie back in the seventies when, you needed at least a little bit of money and a little bit of know how, because you were shooting on film. So, it couldn’t be, you know, you and your friends in your mom’s basement with a video camera, but take this, transport it to the seventies, give that kid a 16 millimeter camera, somebody who knows a little bit about lighting, and some folks who are adults who are willing to act, and you wouldn’t get something too far removed from this movie. 

Craig:  Yeah. You know, it I don’t know. Like you said, you mentioned that other movie, It Lives. And I I I guess I read that, the writer and director of this movie was inspired by those movies. And you can see a little bit, of connection and similarity really just kind of in the monster. But beyond that, the story, you know, it touts itself as a horror comedy. And I don’t know, the comedy is kind of subtle. And and really by the end, I was feeling that it was kind of tragic.   Like I was surprised by the way that it made me feel. I I didn’t expect it to make me feel anything. And at the end, I was like, man, this is this is kind of a bummer. 

Todd:  Yeah. You know, I think the comedy is, to be frank, kind of unintentional, and it seems to me that billing it as a horror comedy, which is what they do, is an after the fact sort of, you know, we put this movie together, we saw what we had, and we realized some of it’s pretty goofy. And not because we wrote it to be goofy, but because some of the acting is goofy and some of the situations are a little silly. I just am pretty convinced that he meant this to be a straight out horror film, and once he put it together, figured he could salvage it by calling it a horror comedy. 

Craig:  Well, it’s interesting that you say that because, when it was initially released the distributor cut out a lot of the gore like almost all of the gore to really try to, appeal to those who were looking for the comedy side of it. And I don’t know. It would be interesting to see that cut, you know, that’s not eventually they restored, all the gore and and called it, you know, the uncut edition or whatever. And I assume that’s what we saw because, there was quite a bit of practical effect gore. So, yeah. I don’t know. It does kinda seem unintentional. All of the actors in this movie, I looked up, on IMDB.   The main guy who got his big break in this movie went on to do 2 sequels. He he reprises his role in the 2 sequels, which again, this is such an unlikely movie to even get a sequel. But, and he’s done I think he’s got, like, 10 credits. The young lady who plays, the love interest, Sharon, her name is Susan Smith, and she has exactly one, IMDB listing for this movie. And that’s, I mean, if you go to the IMDB page, like, none of them have headshots, none of the cast. So it had to have been just, you know, kind of a ragtag group of people who got together and and put this together. And for being that inexperienced, it’s pretty darn good. I don’t think I could make a movie of this quality.   You probably could. But, you know, it shows the acting is not great. It’s very over the top in some parts. But if however it works out, somehow it just comes together and it really just seems like they succeeded in making the type of movie that they wanted to make. And it’s weird and different and bizarre and, I I I don’t even know if I can say that I like it, but I’m just kind of fascinated by it. It’s it’s really interesting. 

Todd:  Well, I think where it succeeds in that respect is that it really creates a good sense of place. It has a feel of its own, and you can tell it was filmed on location. It’s filmed in New York, and the whole movie just feels very gritty. It feels like you are in, the everyday man kind of slummy side of New York, especially back in the early eighties, because that’s where it was shot and it doesn’t really pretend to be anything else. And so you’re getting very claustrophobic shots in these hotels that are dingy and dirty and gross. In the bedroom, in the rooms of these hotels is where the action is. Even the doctor’s office it’s clearly intentionally, and maybe this is supposed to be funny, but you know, the doctor’s sitting at a desk that looks like it’s in some maintenance closet. He’s got rusted out pipes behind him and things like that.   And so maybe that was meant to be funny. There’s a part of me that thinks, well, maybe that was really the only room they had available, so that’s the room they used. I mean, I was 

Craig:  I think that’s what it is. 

Todd:  Yeah. 

Craig:  Yeah. But no, I totally I know what you’re saying exactly. It does have a really it’s a really interesting snapshot of New York City in the late seventies, early eighties. I mean, these days, Times Square is this big tourist attraction. It’s all glitzy and you know, there’s the the big jumbotrons and and all the signs for the Broadway shows and, you know, touristy restaurants and stuff. But this is just kind of a reminder that it wasn’t always like that. It used to be really kind of sleazy and dirty and and gritty like you said and gross. And, that’s where it opens up with our our main character, Dwayne walking down the street in Times Square just holding this basket and, he’s being approached by drug dealers and hookers and you know, there’s like porn shops and, stuff all around and it’s, you know, that’s not the Times Square that I think of when I think of Times Square and I, it’s kind of an interesting reminder.   Oh, yeah. It really did used to be like that. And you talked about like the interior shots. I think you’re right. It was just a matter of them using whatever they could get. The the hotel is supposedly in Times Square, Square but it wasn’t really located there. And all of the interior shots like, the lobby, it it looks I mean, it looks very authentic. It looks like a very small walk in lobby, but really they just filmed that in a service elevator.   And all of the interior rooms or a lot of the interior rooms and hallways were just filmed in friends’ houses, because they had a really limited budget. They only had like what was like a 35,000, yeah, $35,000 budget, which as far as filmmaking goes, is is nothing really. 

Todd:  Yeah. Early on in the film when he whips out a wad of bills to pay for the hotel, which is kind of funny in and of itself. He The hotel room’s $20, but he whips out this wad of bills and very, quickly rifles through tens, hundreds and fifties and things just to pay for 20. I think the director at one point had said that that wad of bills represented the film’s entire budget. 

Craig:  I believe it. Yeah. I believe it. And you can tell. I mean, you can tell that it’s a low budget movie, but they did really well with what they had. 

Todd:  Yeah. 

Craig:  And they did some really interesting stuff Todd, which we’ll, you know, we’ll get to with effects and whatnot. But I I have to give them props for for making, you know, making do with what they had. 

Todd:  It does force a certain aesthetic, and I think that’s probably what saves the movie. The the shots are very close. Many of them are very close in, and you can tell, for example, especially when he goes to visit the doctor later, when he is talking to the receptionist through this glass, kind of the sliding glass window that you tend to see in a receptionist’s office. I mean, her office behind her is so minuscule that it looks like, I don’t know, like a DJ studio or something, repurposed. And you can tell they’re Craig it so close because they don’t wanna show you the rest of the room, because it’s probably doesn’t the rest of them probably doesn’t look like a doctor’s office at all. And when it Right. The other shot, you know, in the other direction where he’s sitting down and waiting, there’s a big bulletin board behind him with some things posted to it that look like they might be in a doctor’s office, but that’s the only indication that you get that he’s in a waiting room. There are no other cast.   There’s not even a potted plant there or a table full of magazines or anything, any of the furniture that you’d expect in a doctor’s office. And it’s just so tight on him that you just know, and this is true in almost every location, that they’re being very deliberately tight. And not because they’re going for a certain aesthetic, but because they’re trying to hide the fact that where they’re filming, is not where what it really is supposed to be or that these are sets, you know. And again, it just forces a certain aesthetic. Obviously, I don’t think it was intentional, but it does work in the movie’s favor at the end of the day. 

Craig:  I think so too. You know, those those little things that you were pointing out, I almost didn’t even notice, because I don’t know, there is something that seemed legitimate about it. I guess, I don’t know if that’s you know, just the tone of the film or you know, how they established through those shots, those exterior shots of Times Square and stuff. You know, we I expected the movie to be gritty and and dark, and and that’s what it was. Whether it was by necessity or otherwise, like you said, I I think that it ended up being in its favor. 

Todd:  You know what it reminded me of a little bit Todd? Pink Flamingos. Have you ever seen that, the John Waters movie? 

Craig:  No. I’ve avoided seeing that. 

Todd:  Yeah. Well, you might not wanna see it. But, you know, it’s a very divisive movie and I can’t say it’s a fantastic movie either, but it feels a lot like this. Of course, that was shot in Baltimore, I think, and and but it it has a very deliberately gritty feel to it. Obviously, it’s opened up a little bit more, but again, it’s shot on film, it’s shot with a low budget, very little lighting, clearly with people that are on their first project acting wise, cinematography wise, lighting wise, even script wise, the way things are staged can be utterly boring at times just because it’s 1 can’t, you know, the camera set up in the corner of the room and you see the whole thing play out as a, you know, the whole scene play out as a play, you know, right in front of you. Now, this movie doesn’t quite go that far. It does have, you know, the shots back and forth and quicker cuts, but again, that’s that’s really because if they set the camera up in the corner of the room, you’d probably see a lot of stuff they didn’t want you to see. The other thing that was a little distracting about this movie was the acting.   I don’t feel like it’s very competently acted. It’s not the worst acting I’ve seen. It’s definitely pretty typical for this kind of movie, so it’s not uber distracting, but there are times when it’s just so unnatural that it kind of clashes with that authentic atmosphere that we were just talking about. 

Craig:  Yeah. I definitely can see what you say. Like I said, I have a feeling that the vast majority of these people were not actors. You know, I I think that these were just people that were pulled in for a job. And, it kind of comes across that way. I don’t but that being said, the the main character, and I don’t remember, he was played by Kevin Van Henterick, something like that. Mhmm. Anyway, Dwayne, he’s this younger looking guy probably in his twenties, I would guess.   He’s got, you know, this big curly eighties hairdo. And his acting is pretty bad, like, it’s pretty melodramatic and over the top most of the time. And yet somehow the character is endearing. I don’t know if it’s just, you know, this guy’s he’s got, you know, kind of these puppy dog eyes, and, he’s got kind of a soft demeanor. So maybe that has something to do with it. But, I I was I liked him as a character, and I was pulling from as a character, and I was pulling from as an actor. Because as we mentioned, the whole the whole premise is that these conjoined twins, one of whom is normal looking and the other who is monstrous, were their mother died in childbirth. Their father was upset and angry about that and blamed it basically on, the deformed child.   You know, he wouldn’t even claim it as his child. He just thought it was a monster. And so in the dead of night, he brings in these, you know, kind of, backwoods I guess, surgeons to separate them and, it’s against their will. And that scene was actually really pretty traumatic and scary and sad. It doesn’t come until later in the movie. We see it in a flashback. We kind of have been able to figure out what’s going on, you know, what the backstory is. We do see it in flashback.   And the prosthetic that is the Belial is the name of the, deformed twin, it’s it’s campy looking, you know, it doesn’t look like real flesh. It’s it’s somewhat human like. But, what was funny to me is, you know, this actor, he’s carrying around a basket for a lot of it. Hence, the title basket case. And supposedly, in that basket is this deformed brother. One of the things that I thought was funny and a little bit distracting, was that Belial seemed to change size. Sometimes sometimes he would be so big that you would think he couldn’t possibly fit in that basket, and then sometimes he would be significantly smaller. There’s one scene where, Belial hides in the toilet, which I guess is supposed to be a gag.   And, Dwayne, you know, sits down next to him and pulls him out and is having this scene with what is obviously a prop. But there’s a sincerity in his performance that, you know, almost makes you feel a truth to this relationship between these brothers even though one of them is clearly, you know, some kind of rubber doll. 

Clip:  Look, I’ve helped you with everything so far, haven’t I? Killing Lifflander was your idea. Coming to New York to get the other 2 was your idea. Now wait a minute. Wait a minute. Let me finish. I’m not saying that. Of course, you’re right. They deserve what they get.   All I’m saying is it’s been your idea every step of the way. But I’ve helped you, haven’t I? Never desert you, not after all we’ve been through. You know that. We’ll always be together. 

Craig:  Did you am I am I giving too much credit? I I don’t know. 

Todd:  No, I don’t think you are at all. I think just the very idea and, and you know, you get a lot of leeway here when you’re talking about a deformed twin. It’s not like this is a creature, something that has progeny, something that has come from a lineage of other creatures, and so genetically it it has a certain, you know, for example, you watch a movie and you see a dragon, you know, you expect that dragon to kinda be realistic looking even though there is no such thing as a dragon. You have an idea of other things that are like it. You see a movie like The Thing, which is all about just this sort of genetic, and you can do anything with it really. You can have the monster look however, and no one’s gonna say, oh, well Todd didn’t look real, because it’s kind of your imagination. And the same sense really with this twin, maybe he was formed so that his mouth doesn’t move as much. Maybe he was formed with wrong eyes that are just glassy and staring straight out all the time and can’t move around.   You get so much leeway there that even though this puppet is clearly a puppet, and it’s not a Jim Henson style puppet or quality puppet, it is good enough. It is definitely good enough. And then I think that it’s the the limitations of that puppet. The fact that it does have these sort of dead glassy eyes staring out, and that its mouth can just sort of only open and close and it has these big teeth and these arms that that jut out. It works again, oddly enough in the film’s favor in that it gives you sympathy for this brother. And it and again, I think you’re right. It’s because the other brother plays up the love that he has for his deformed twin so much that you really don’t care what the twin looks like anymore. You know it’s deformed and it’s messed up, and the more messed up it looks, the more sympathy you get for it in a sense.   Does that make sense? 

Craig:  It does make sense. And and you sympathize for both of them because despite the fact that Belial is murderous and really monstrous and like you don’t I don’t know what the film was trying to suggest. You know, it seemed in the beginning, part of the reason I think that I felt especially in that scene where it was the forced separation. And this is kind of tragic. If this were a re obviously this does not look like real conjoined twins but you know if that were for whatever a real situation where there were conjoined twins who had lived you know, 12 or 13 years or whatever together and and had a Todd. Not only do they have a bond because they share a body, but they also are psychically connected. Like, they can they can communicate with each other, without speaking or at least they could when, they were connected. Even though Belial is murderous and is kind of using his brother as his accomplice, a willing accomplice, you don’t even hold that against them because really all they’re doing is seeking revenge on these people who had violated them so terribly.   Now towards the end of the movie, things kind of got muddy for me because there it seems there was some suggestion that Belial was in fact a monster or inhuman. And and I’m not really sure what they were trying to achieve with that. But, overall, you know, they’re the characters are compelling. And that’s it’s surprising. I didn’t expect it. It it Todd me off guard. 

Todd:  Well, and, you know, we’re also talking too here about childhood trauma, which is a little different. You know, a lot of films are deal in the adult world, and we’re talking about a person going out getting revenge for something that happened to them when they were an adult. When you have some modicum of control, when you put yourself into certain situations or you have certain friends and things can get out of hand and blah blah blah. And so there’s less wiggle room when you’re dealing with a child who, has is born with his brother and this this is all he knows. This is his life. He has his brother attached to him and he doesn’t, you know, in a sense, the child doesn’t know he’s deformed. He has to be told he’s deformed because for all he knows, this how everybody is. And as he grows older, he’s still attached to his brother, he has that bond and it’s the adults while he’s still too young to have any agency of his own, it’s the adults that force this separation.   And so, yeah, you can relate to that situation a 100%. I mean, not literally relate to it, but you can easily sympathize with that kind of situation, and it has a little bit more of an emotional impact and you do cut them some slack. You’re right. You do feel, even though murder is wrong and this is bad, that that there’s a certain amount of justification in here, just enough that he doesn’t seem like a total monster. 

Craig:  Well, right. And that that it helps that the doctors, there are 3 of them. The first one gets killed in the very first scene, and then the rest of the movie is in large part Dwayne seeking out these other 2. And and they do eventually find them both and and off Belial offs them, both. But they, you know, again, I don’t know if I can attribute it to good acting but these these doctors are so unfeeling and and you know, really monsters themselves. Mhmm. Not only do they force the separation, but they have no regard. In fact, they would prefer it if Belial would die.   They just they throw him in the garbage. You know, they throw him in a garbage can and put him out by the side of the house. And of course, you know, because Dwayne has the psychic connection with him where Belial communicate with him, he goes and rescues him. And then, Belial and Dwayne, I guess, we don’t really see who’s entirely responsible for it. But, they set up this kind of killing machine that kills their father and then they’re left in the care of their aunt who accepts them both for who they are. Yeah. And and so, yeah. You you you feel for them and you don’t really have much sympathy for the people that they’re taking out because, you know, they’re presented very much as bad people and portrayed as bad people.   So you kind of feel like they have what’s coming to they’re getting what’s coming to them. 

Todd:  Well, yeah. And even in the flashback scenes Todd the father, absolutely no sympathy for him. It it’s almost a comical bit of bad writing too when he approaches those doctors and 

Clip:  All I want is Duane to be normal. It’s too late to change the other one. Just cut Duane from him. I don’t know. I don’t know. No questions asked. Just separate them. 

Todd:  Like, please. Like, this dad cares at least about 1 kid or else he wouldn’t be having this operation in the 1st place, but he’s gonna dig up these hacked doctors. One of whom we find out is actually veterinarian, 

Craig:  right, 

Todd:  to to separate his kid. It it that’s funny. 

Craig:  It is. And, you know, and and I think, you know, that’s the main plot. There’s also a subplot with, Dwayne. He he meets a receptionist in, the office of one of these doctors and they have kind of a romantic subplot which causes, conflicts between him and Belial. We’ll get Todd that in a second. But, I I just thought for whatever reason, you know, they these scenes, we see all 3 of these doctors get murdered in pretty much the same way. But the way that they shoot it is interesting. Like, a lot of time sometimes, the, like, the female doctor, I think, did a lot of struggling with the prop puppet.   There but they I one of the things that I thought this movie was was really interesting about the movie was their different techniques and how they used Belial and the the various puppets and props that they used for him. Sometimes when he’s attacking the doctors, all you will see is his deformed kind of clawed hand come up and scratch them in the face. And there’s lots of blood and there’s lots of splatters of blood, in this movie. And then sometimes, like I said, they’ll struggle with the puppet. And, then there are other times, I don’t remember if this was any of the attacks, but there are some really cool stop motion scenes where they used, I guess a prop or a puppet of or of some type and you can tell that it’s Todd motion. And it’s not even necessarily the best done stop motion. 

Clip:  Doctor. Yeah. 

Craig:  Cool. Doctor. But within the context within the context of the movie, it’s really kind of fascinating to watch, like you kinda can’t pull your eyes away. And I thought it was interesting that they were trying this variety of techniques. The the big puppet, the the one that we actually see his mouth move when he Blyle doesn’t talk. He just screams a lot. He can communicate psychically with his brother, but other than that, he just screams and moans. The main big prosthetic puppet, they did a face mold, of the lead actor.   And the lead actor also provides all of the voice stuff for Belial. And anytime you see that what is obviously a prosthetic glove attacking, that’s him too. So again, this guy, this main guy who plays Dwayne, he may not be the most skilled actor, but, you know, he was really going for it and and, doing whatever the director asked him to. And I just thought that it it was interesting to see. It would have been an interesting process to be a part of, I’m sure, you know, making use of this shoestring budget, utilizing actors as much as you possibly can. It’s, I don’t know. It’s it’s it’s interesting. 

Todd:  Fascinating, and not being able to pull your eyes away is a good way to describe it. You’re right. It’s not super competent, but it’s just interesting enough that you know you’re watching a movie the whole time, and I guess that’s Mhmm. My one knock on it, and there’s nothing they could do about that. They’re doing the best with what they can, but that is not you’re not going to be suspending your disbelief, very hard in this film. And so Right. But I sort of feel like that’s its charm point, and I think that’s what we’re saying here. It’s that’s kind of what’s charming about it, is just seeing this different filmmaking technique, getting that sense of place, and then piled on top of it, it does feel worthwhile because the story is interesting and the characters are relatable, and you do feel for them to a certain extent even though you’re aware that they’re puppets. 

Craig:  Right. And and you said, you know, the story is interesting. I think the story is really interesting. You know, I think that had this taken some other form and if it if it had taken the form of a novel or or potentially even a play, there’s enough intrigue and the material is so dark in a way that I haven’t really see, you know, it’s unique, it’s original. I’ve not seen anything much like it at all. I I think that, you know, I think it could be good fodder for a novel or something. As corny as it probably sounds, you know, us talking about the premise, you know, there is some tragedy to it. There’s the tragedy of, the the boys being separated against their will.   There’s the tragedy of the fact that Belial can never have a normal life. And because he can never have a normal life, neither can Duane. And Duane is becoming a young man and, you know, is is becoming interested in women and surely would like to have some sense of normalcy in his own life and he can never have that. And you see in the actor’s portrayal how he’s coming to terms with that and he’s not it’s like he’s not really coming to terms with it. Here is here’s the small town boy in the big city starting his life, but he’s constantly burdened, with with having to care for his brother and kind of do his brother’s bidding. Now initially, he’s really, like I said before, a willing accomplice. But as Belial gets more and more difficult to control, we really see this actor struggling with, you know, what is he going to do? 

Clip:  Daniel. Daniel. Daniel. Daniel. Daniel. Daniel, talk to me, please. Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. 

Craig:  And then you you feel for the guy. 

Todd:  You do. He’s, you know, he’s really putting himself out there. He’s really setting aside his life for his brother. He’s carrying him around. You know, the the the burden that he is carrying is a physical manifestation. It’s a basket, you know, that he’s walking around with, and you see that, and people are always asking him about it, and he’s always just kind of writing it away. But heck, he even takes him into the bar with him and sets him down. The only thing keeping his brother in there, keeping people from opening it up is this little lock that he puts on it.   And so yeah, it that aspect of the story is really Todd, and I think that’s why this movie works better as a drama, than it does as a scary movie. It’s not really scary because I think in a scary film you have to care about the people who are going to die. You you you’re nervous because you know there’s a killer around the corner, and you’re wondering if you’re gonna get it. In this movie, you really don’t care that these guys get it, and and much like, I think we were talking about prom night, the aspect of who’s gonna get it, at least initially, isn’t ever really a question because we see that this is more of a revenge story. It’s not a monster maniac is on the loose. Although Todd does take that aspect toward the end when the relationship between the two brothers starts to unravel. 

Craig:  Right. And it it really begins to unravel when Duane wants to kind of separate himself. And of course, you know, here I am a teacher of literature. I’m I I’m actually seeing, you know, some effort at like motif and stuff here, you know. Like they’ve got the physical separation but then that also manifest in that they are now kind of being separated emotionally as well. And, and Belisle, you know, doesn’t take that well. He doesn’t like for Dwayne to be going off and doing his own thing. And because they share this psychic connection, there’s an awareness of what’s going on.   That Todd motion scene that I mentioned before, which like you said, is maybe not the best technically. It was really kind of compelling. What happens is, Dwayne sets up this secret date with Sharon, the receptionist, and they go out to the Statue of Liberty. And it looks like they really, you know, shot there. I doubt they got permission or or whatever. But, and they have a nice moment. The the 2 of them, Dwayne and Sharon have a nice moment. Cornball, but nice and It’s the 

Todd:  it’s the fastest buddy romance in the history of movies. I think that she falls for him in like an hour, and suddenly they’re lip locking and talking about how they can’t live without each other. That’s a little silly, but but you’re right. I mean, at least it’s happening. 

Craig:  Yeah. And again, you know, it is silly and it is such a quick budding romance, but there is almost a sense of realism to it. And I think part of it was kind of the actress, you know. I I don’t know anything about her. I can’t speak to her character. She fell apparently, she kind of fell off the face of the earth after this. I read somewhere that she now like makes spiritual bowls or something. She’s like a big hippie or something.   But there was a rawness in her performance that doesn’t seem affected at all. So you almost believe her. Like, you know, like, she almost comes across as a real person. 

Clip:  Dwayne. I know an awful lot of guys, Dwayne. But you’re different. Don’t they have girls upstate? Well, I keep pretty much to myself. You’re dying breed, Dwight. 

Craig:  But yeah. So when they when they start to kiss, Belial senses it and freaks out and destroys the whole room. And it’s really kind of an interesting scene where, you know, he’s really just just completely tearing this room apart and all the other inhabitants of this hotel hear it and they’re gathered outside the door, and there was some good tension there because you think, well he can’t get out and they’re gonna get in there and find him. But they just don’t. And like they’re just willing to kind of accept, well, what are you gonna do? You know, there’s nobody in there now, so I guess we’ll just go about our business. Yeah. And, again, I don’t know if that was meant to be funny, but, it just it it was interesting to watch. 

Todd:  Yeah. No. You’re right. You really feel for this brother because, obviously, he’s getting what, he’s he’s never going to have that kind of a relationship. And, but he he obviously wants it, you know, and he can’t live vicariously enough through his brother to get anything like that. And then as you mentioned earlier, this brother, there’s you know, you mentioned that the girl’s performance, there’s a rawness to it that gives it some Authenticity, maybe? I didn’t really feel that about her performance. I felt more like the brother gave it a little bit of authenticity in that maybe this is just this crazy woman who falls for every guy that she meets, but he is sort of desperate enough and inexperienced enough to to go along with it and just throw in, you know, whole hog. And so, you know, and so that was the kindest explanation I could give in my mind. 

Craig:  Fair enough. 

Todd:  You know, to resolve that this is gonna be this quick little romance that happens. But you’re right. The reaction to it’s very real, and you can feel for the brothers on both sides. It’s really quite touching. And again, without that device of the telepathy, this really wouldn’t have worked as well, I think, because that adds yet another layer to it. It’s not like his brother can just sneak out and have these trysts and come back and always have an excuse or an explanation. His deformed twin is always going to know and it’s always going to be touched and affected by whatever his brother does. And that’s a really unique spin on. 

Craig:  It is, and it leads to some really interesting stuff in the movie. You know, we’ve really kind of glossed over the plot, but it’s okay. You know, it’s really just kind of that revenge plot. But towards the end, it starts to get really interesting, when Dwayne starts to kinda go out like you said before he went to a bar and he gets drunk at the bar and there’s this really nice lady from, you know, the, hotel that he kind of drinks with and he tells her the whole back story. When they get back, he’s incapacitated. He’s drunk. He’s passed out and Belial sneaks into, this woman’s bed, and scares her, of course. I I didn’t really understand why she didn’t figure out what that was in her bedroom since Duane had just told her, like, 5 seconds before.   Right? But, again, Belial is able to escape. Sharon was the receptionist for one of these doctors that, Belial has killed. And, all of this just takes place over a couple of days. The day after that guy is killed, he’s killed after hours so Sharon doesn’t find out until the next day. And she’s very shaken up about it and so she comes to Dwayne for comfort and support and a romp in the sack it appears. And they Todd, they they get on the bed and they’re they’re making out, and it seems like things are gonna progress. You know, I think she even says something super cornball like, take me or something stupid like that. Yeah.   And as as he is beginning to get intimate with her, again, Belial freaks out, jumps out of his, basket. And it was a it’s a strange dynamic. You know, I couldn’t tell if Dwayne was listening to what Belial was saying because we never hear what what Belial is saying in Dwayne’s head. He he responds sometimes. We never know exactly what it is Belial is saying. And so Dwayne just kind of sits, stands or is laying there frozen for a while holding Sharon down while Belial is freaking out. And eventually, in a kind of comic fashion, he like wraps her up in the sheet and takes her and just throws her out of the room. And that’s when he kind of has his big breakdown where he’s like, Why can’t you just let me have a normal life? And, it’s really kind of touching.   And then he goes to sleep and Bilal comes out of his basket. And this is where things got kind of weird for me and I wonder what your take is on it because Bilal goes over to Dwayne and you’re not sure what he’s gonna do. I I wasn’t sure if he was going to attack Dwayne or if he was being, I don’t know, if he just wanted to kind of touch him or be near him. But then you get some close-up shots of Belial and his eyes start glowing red. And throughout this whole time, as monstrous as he looked, because we’ve been given no other explanation or suggestion, I just kind of assumed that he was intended to be a terribly deformed human being. And then this kind of started made made me start to question that. What was your take on that? 

Todd:  I honestly didn’t know what to make of it. My take on it was they just wanted to make him look a little more monstrous, so they thought, oh hey, let’s make his eyes glow red. I’d be surprised if I mean, what is the other explanation? That he’s some alien, that he’s some creature that came down and attached himself to it, that his mother got impregnated with something unholy and that’s why he was a conjoined twin in the first place? There’s nothing nothing, not a hint of anything else in the movie that I could detect, that would have hinted any of that. 

Craig:  Yeah. And I don’t know if any of that is addressed in the sequels. There are 2 sequels, but I haven’t seen them. I I want to now, but I I haven’t yet. But anyway, then we get this really kind of odd sequence. Initially, what the director wanted to do was he wanted to have, Belial goes out the window. And you know, having seen this already, I knew where he was going. I feel like it’s pretty obvious that he was headed to Sharon’s, place.   And the way that they wanted to shoot it was they wanted to do the stop motion with Belial going through the streets of, downtown New York. But they Todd decided that So instead Todd happens, and I guess it’s because they’re psychically connected, Dwayne, he’s asleep. So I guess you could call it a dream or maybe more appropriately a vision. He has a vision of himself running down the streets of New York completely nude. Correct. And we are seeing from what appears to be his perspective that eventually he reaches Sharon’s house and she’s sleeping naked, fortunately for him. And it appears that he is starting to touch her and we see his hands touching her. Then he wakes up and he’s still in his bed and, you know, you kinda see on his face.   It’s almost like he has this realization and he runs out there and we cut back to Sharon and it’s in fact Belial who is, on top of her, you know, who is who’s fondling her. And of course, she she panics and screams. My interpretation of this scene, because we don’t really get to see a lot, we only see it really from Belial’s perspective. So all we really see is his hands, holding her neck. But before that, before she even woke up, the camera was doing this like zoom in, zoom out thing. I don’t even think it was a zoom. I think that whoever was holding the camera was literally moving it towards her and pulling it back to suggest thrusting. Yeah.   Like, while while was attempting to rape her, which I don’t really understand how that works because he’s just a torso from, like like, the chest up. But but the result is that she panics and, he ends up, he ends up killing her. And, again, you know, when Dwayne barges in, it’s the puppet sitting on her nude dead Todd, and there’s lots of blood underneath the puppet that I didn’t know if I was supposed to think that that was supposed to be from him or from him at his attempts at raping her. I don’t know. I I guess it doesn’t really matter, but it was very unsettling as far as imagery goes. 

Todd:  Well, he’s bouncing up and down on her too, and there’s a squishing sound. I mean, I think once it gets into the wide shot, it’s pretty clear. Yeah. Because he’s sitting right there on her crotch, you know. 

Clip:  Mhmm. 

Todd:  It is. You’re right. It’s very unsettling. It’s very weird. I think a lot of people might even call it a tasteless moment, in the movie. Definitely takes it to a very, very dark place. But Mhmm. It still works, you know.   I mean, it’s 

Craig:  It works in the context of this movie because you’re not real you know, it’s so gritty that and seedy. And that’s the tone that they’ve and the atmosphere that they’ve established that it seems in keeping. Yes, I agree that it is almost tasteless and it does, it, you know, I mean it’s an eighties horror film so T and A were, you know, kind of the genre. But I mean it Todd, it feels a little exploitive of this actress. You know, she’s very vulnerable. She’s completely nude. There’s lots of things happening to her body that I’m sure were uncomfortable. I heard for some I think I read somewhere that for some reason, the crew became really upset during the filming of this scene and left.   And that’s all I read. I don’t know why. I have no idea what prompted it. But maybe it was just the level of discomfort for the or or like you said, the the the level of tastefulness, of it. But, anyway, Dwayne does barge in and, he gets Belisle and gets him back in the basket and, takes him back to the hotel where you know, he’s yelling and screaming at Bilal. Of course, nobody else can see him because he’s in the basket. They all just think he’s nuts. But they get into the room.   And how does this play out? Remind me, do they just struggle? I mean, is that how it happens? 

Todd:  I don’t really remember how they end up kind of fighting, but you get the impression that maybe this is the end, that this Belial is gonna kill him because he’s just so frustrated, I guess. And I think it it makes sense. It’s it I think it’s meant to be this final duel between the brothers. It’s it’s like Frankenstein, but not in a way because Mhmm. He didn’t create his brother, but he’s burdened with him, and he bears a certain level of responsibility. In fact, the scene when he does break in and, you know, kills Sharon is very reminiscent obviously of the the end of Frankenstein. And so that really becomes that final straw for him, much like it was for Victor Frankenstein. And so I thought this scene I mean, I felt like it was it was just a scene for scene, kind of like Frankenstein is.   They have their battle, and only one of them is going to get out of it okay. At least that’s what you’re thinking. But instead, they go end up by the window and whether it’s intentional or not, it seems like Belial pushes him out the window or forces him out the window or in the ensuing struggle, he ends up out the window. And when I first saw it, I thought he was doing that on purpose. But then the next shot, Belial’s actually holding him like he doesn’t want him to fall. And so 

Craig:  And this was actually kind of funny. I thought there’s, like, hookers hanging down below and, like, one of them sees him and just gives out, like, the most inauthentic screen. 

Clip:  Oh, what’s that? Oh, girls. Look at that. What is that? 

Craig:  And oh, yes. The the crowd starts gathering. Yeah. Seeing this imagery, it really, it affected me in a really surprising way. Like it really felt tragic to me. Like you said, it seems like Belial is trying to keep them both from falling. Now he could easily let Dwayne go and maybe if he did that, that would make it easier for him to hang on, but he’s not. He’s holding on.   But at the same time, somehow he’s choking Dwayne, too. Like it doesn’t appear that that’s intentional. It’s like he’s just trying to hold on to him but at the same time, he’s strangling him and so it’s like Dwayne is hanging. And you know, it just it struck me as being really tragic and sad that this was how their journey was going to end. And and it does, you know, eventually they fall. And I I very much got the feeling that we were meant to believe that they had both died. 

Clip:  Doctor. Yeah. 

Craig:  And as corny and and you know, odd as this movie was, it really kinda made me sad. You know, I felt like it was really kinda tragic and a tragic ending. And that and that it just ends there with the Craig surrounding them. You know, it’s kinda like the end of King Kong where Yeah. You know, it’s just a gathering crowd and and the the camera pulls away and and the credits start to roll. I I thought it was I don’t know. It it affected me far more than it probably should have. I don’t I don’t know why. 

Todd:  Well, it it sets up a really interesting moral situation, I thought. In this case, as you said, he wasn’t holding on to his hand, but he’s holding on to his neck, and he’s clearly choking. And so either way, his brother is going to die. Either he continues to hold him up above the street, and he will choke to death, or he drops him and he will surely, you know, break his his neck and die on the street below. And so the choice becomes, does he let him go? Does Belial let let Dwayne go and save himself or does he let go and they both tumble to certain doom? And the choice that he made was we’re both gonna tumble to certain doom, which makes logical sense because really without his brother, he can’t function in life. And as mad as he can get at him and as jealous as he can be at him, this deformed twin is not gonna last long without his brother carrying him around in the basket, and he knows that. So it’s really the only way it could end at that point, and that’s what makes I think that’s what makes it so tragic. I mean, it didn’t emotionally affect me in the same way because I think, for me, the whole time, I felt like I was watching a movie.   Everything else was a little too distracting, for me to suspend my disbelief. But the idea of it, I 100% agree with you. It is tragic. It is sad. And, yeah, I think we’re supposed to believe that they both died because of the way it was shot. 

Craig:  Yeah. And I don’t remember it affecting me so much the first time around. So maybe I was just in a weird mood when I watched this yesterday. I don’t know. But, and and it it almost okay. I I really kind of desperately want to see the sequels now. Doctor. Yeah. 

Clip:  Uh-huh. Doctor. 

Craig:  And I, fortunately, thanks to you, have access to them. But, I don’t know. And I I I like I said, I haven’t seen them, but I was just reading a little bit about them today. And I guess, the main guy does, come back to the same role. So it, apparently, the first sequel picks up exactly where we leave off in the first one and it just turns out that they are not dead and they get whisked away by an ambulance or or whatever. While I desperately want to see it and will watch it, I almost feel like that almost takes a little bit away from the effectiveness of the ending, of this movie. I’m totally willing to let it go. It’s not gonna bother me but, but it, you know, I I thought that the ending was fitting for the movie.   You know, the the fact that they did both die tragically, I thought that that was a fitting ending. 

Todd:  Oh, yeah. It it it really was. And it was honestly, I felt like something like this was gonna happen from the beginning. I just felt like it was going to be that kind of story. And so it works, you know, even though the writing is not good from a dialogue perspective, and even though the camerawork is, I think, distractingly poor, there’s lighting issues, like light is coming from odd places lots of times from the floor in these scenes. Mhmm. Even though all of that is the fact, at least the structure of the story and thematically, it almost just makes up for it anyway. It’s it’s not a movie that I would say, oh, everybody needs to go out and see, but it is a movie that I would say you’re not wasting your time if you do see it.   You’re gonna come away with something. You’re gonna come away with the atmosphere, that gritty atmosphere, and that look at at that side of New York that in some ways doesn’t really exist anymore. At least when it does, it’s it’s in pockets. And you’re also getting this thematic, these ideas these ideas that that will stay with you that you might mull over for a while. 

Craig:  Yeah. It’s interesting that you said that you wouldn’t, recommend it to everybody. I certainly wouldn’t either. Right before you’re right before you said that, I was getting ready to say, I would recommend this to horror fans. It’s just such a like and not only horror fans but anybody who is really interested in cinema, you know, for cinema’s sake. I think that it’s, you know, it’s such an Todd, it’s such a curiosity, that it’s just unlike anything I’ve ever seen before or since. And that, I don’t know. That for that reason alone, I find it interesting and fascinating. 

Todd:  Yeah. I’d put it there kind of again, with Pink Flamingos, they’re 2 very different movies. Right. It’s exactly the same thing. I would not recommend that movie to anybody. However, if you’re into cinema, and you you you you need to see it. You need to experience that movie, kinda see what it’s like. You will find it fascinating.   And, yeah, you’re right. I felt the same way about this film. Thank you for listening to another episode. If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with a friend. We’re up on iTunes, we’re at Stitcher. Please check us out on Facebook, like us there, and continue the conversation with us. We’d love to hear what you think and hear your recommendations for movies that we should watch into the future. Until that time, I’m Todd, 

Craig:  and I’m Craig

Todd:  with 2 Guys and a Chainsaw.

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