Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991)

Description (from synapse-films.com):
He’s back. He’s bad. And he’s a dad! Belial, everyone’s favorite beast-in-a-basket, is back in this sensational third film in the wildly macabre horror series. After being separated again from his conjoined twin brother Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck), Belial finds out he’s going to be a deformed daddy! Mrs. Belial (“Eve”, played by Denise Coop) delivers a litter of bouncing baby monsters, but the blessed event turns into a nightmarish ordeal when the police kidnap the little critters. They should know it’s not safe to anger Belial! Attacking the cops in a climactic, gory rampage, everyone’s favorite mutant mauler stops at nothing to get his newborns back!

Major Cast:
Kevin Van Hentenryck as Duane Bradley, Annie Ross as Granny Ruth, Gil Roper as Sheriff Griffin, Dan Biggers as Uncle Hal, Jim O’Doherty as Little Hal

Special Features:
Original Theatrical Trailer

Written by Frank Henenlotter and Robert Martin
Directed by Frank Henenlotter

It’s about goddamned time.  BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY has only been available on a crappy fullscreen DVD from Fox that came out in 2004, and that version is now out of print.  Finally a company that actually cares has taken a shot at BC3:tP, and a beautiful edition has been released by Synapse Films.  If you are unfamiliar with Synapse, and you like the type of films I write about, you need to check them out.  They regularly release beautiful editions of various cult films, and they always do it right; BC3:tP is no exception.

Belial is back, and (of course) he’s pissed!

Now I’m guessing if you read my stuff you likely have seen BC3:tP, or at least have seen BASKET CASE.  Just in case you have been living under a gore-strewed rock for the last 21 years, I’ll explain a little about the film. BC3:tP picks up exactly at the end of BASKET CASE 2, and starts with Duane going crazy (he sews Belial back on) after Belial fathers some “children” of his own.  The film jumps ahead a few months to find Duane in a straight jacket.  He is told that they have to move; Granny Ruth is taking Eve (Belial’s baby-momma) and the whole menagerie of freaks on a road trip from NYC to Georgia to see Uncle Hal, who will be delivering the spawn of Belial.  They all pile up in a bus and head to Georgia to be under the care of Uncle Hal and Little Hal (Granny Ruth’s own freak son), and surprise not everything goes as planned.  I’m not going to explain any more of the story than that because if you haven’t seen BC3:tP, you need to.

The original BASKET CASE was a pretty dark horror film with some comedic elements, BC3:tP is straight up comedy with some gore.  There really is not a lot truly scary about BC3:tP, so if you go in expecting a “horror” film, you will likely be disappointed.  However, if you are going into BC3:tP expecting some silly monster fun, more along the lines of FREAKED, then you will see this move for the gem that it is.  I mean, really: how scary can a movie be that revels in alliteration?  “Bailey, you book the Bradley boy.  Baxter, take the bassinet of baby Belials in back and get Brody to come by.  Where’s Brennon and Banner?” “Bowling.  It’s Thursday, Sheriff.”  Seriously, if that doesn’t completely give away the tone of this film, I don’t know what could.  Well, maybe the Sheriff’s daughter that is a closet case BDSM masochist might do it, or the Little Hal’s seemingly improvised speech as the children are born.  Pretty much every few minutes there are reminders that BC3:tP is a comedy with some gore, not a horror film.  I think that BC3:tP is my favorite of the series.  I know that (supposedly) Henenlotter just did parts 2 & 3 for some cash, but he still made them awesome and did them right; BC3:tP really nails what’s funny about a deformed murderous conjoined lump of a twin.

It’s a freak fête!

You have got to love the makeup on BC3:tP.  Sure, it’s a lot of rubber masks, and sure, there is not a whole lot of articulation to a lot of them, but damn if they are not all really cool looking.  Every single freak – from Half Moon, to Mouse Face, to Toothy (my personal favorite), to The Man with 27 Noses – is unique and awesome in their own way.  Nowadays if someone were to make this movie again (Hollywood: please don’t!), these would all be CGi, but back in 1991 they were all made by hand and are all the more cool for that.

Sure, BC3:tP isn’t all good.  There are some technical errors and issues (like seeing crew members in reflections), and there are some issues that go along with it being a low-budget production that seemingly blew a lot of its budget on the effects.  The acting is hit or miss; Van Hentenryck is awesome as Duane, and has really come into this character by the third film, Ross is great as Granny Ruth, and can pull off both compassion and rage with equal aplomb, and Biggers is very strong as Uncle Hal.  On the flipside, you have Hilbert as Opel… I’m not surprised that BC3:tP is her only listed credit on IMDb.  There are a lot of lackluster supporting performances throughout the film, but none are really bad enough to take away from my enjoyment of BC3:tP.  If you are going to fault a film that has a guy with 27 noses in it for bad acting, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.  The direction was ok overall, there were a few nice camera angles and moves, but for the most part BC3:tP is pretty straightforward in its presentation of the story.

She’s popping them out like Pez candies!

What makes this edition of BC3:tP so great is the picture.  Finally presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, and with much more vibrant color and crisp picture, BC3:tP is being presented the way it should be.  I love this edition.  My only real drawback to it at all is the lack of special features.  I’m assuming that there wasn’t much made back in 1991 that could be included, but I would really have loved a commentary track from Henenlotter or Van Hentenryck, or some current interviews with the cast, or something a bit more substantial than just the original preview.  However, I really can’t complain because the Fox DVD doesn’t even have that.

The original Fox DVD image…
…and the new Synapse version!  Not only is it 1.78:1, but the color is so much nicer and the image is much crisper.

Overall, I love BC3:tP, and I really love this release.  Sure, it could have some cherries on top, but it is a beautiful presentation of a film that has been woefully underrated.  This is not Henenlotter’s best film, but it is a damned funny, freaky film that deserves to be seen in a decent quality release, which Synapse has finally done, and I have to thank them for that.  As my favorite of the BASKET CASE series, I am so thankful to finally have a widescreen release of this film, and I hope that its re-release will garner more fans to this overlooked gem of cult cinema.

Overall 8 / 10

BC3:tP on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103773/

BC3:tP for sale: http://synapse-films.com/dvds/basket-case-3-the-progeny-dvd/

BC3:tP site: http://synapse-films.com/dvds/basket-case-3-the-progeny-dvd/

Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991)
Original Theatrical Poster
Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991)
Synapse DVD Cover
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