Eight years after releasing his landmark film Basket Case, Frank Henenlotter decided to continue the saga of the Bradley twins with Basket Case 2. Basket Case 2 was created with a much bigger budget than the first as many elements are improved over the first film: the cinematography has improved, the acting has improved, the sets are more open and beautifully detailed, and there’s even money left over to create a whole menagerie of demented freaks to join Belial and Duane in their endeavors.
Basket Case 2 is very different to it’s predecessor, both story-wise and in tone: The original Basket Case was primarily a strange horror film about revenge, whereas Basket Case 2 is a bizarre, light-hearted comedy film from beginning to end. There may be occasional scenes of blood and gore splattered throughout the film, but Basket Case 2 is very toned down when compared to the original film; even Belial has had a major re-design with the creation of a new puppet – one that is obviously mechanically operated instead of being manually manipulated – that makes the character look a lot less frightening than he did in the first film. However, changing the tone and/or the genre of a series when working on a sequel is a very risky move, as the end result has a possibility of turning away a lot of fans of the original film; but this risk can pay off successfully if the Director knows what can change and what needs to stay the same between the films to prevent them from feeling alienated from one another. When utilized successfully, a change in tone and genre can be a very welcome change of pace for an audience, and it can show off a Director’s talent when he successfully explores different genres of cinema. In my opinion, Frank Henenlotter does that very well with Basket Case 2 because although Frank Henenlotter changed a lot of elements, the film is still reminiscent of the original Basket Case.
Basket Case 2 still retains a lot of what made the original Basket Case enjoyable: Kevin Van Hentenryck still plays Duane Bradley, and he is still a very enjoyable actor to watch. Basket Case 2 is still incredibly bizarre, however, this time, the film incorporates a whole circus of creatively designed freaks, each with their own personality and backstory, and the film is still very on-the-nose with it’s comedic sequences; but Basket Case 2 adds so much more than the original film. The story focuses more on the brothers trying to belong somewhere, instead of seeking revenge, which opens up a lot of new possibilities for these characters that Frank Henenlotter capitalizes on. The main plot focuses a lot more on the character of Belial, instead of Duane, and the story explores his motivations, thus adding depth and weight to what was originally very simple character. In Basket Case 2, Belial is much more than the one-note monster that he was in the original film, he becomes an empathetical character who just wants to belong somewhere, and doesn’t want to be an outcast all his life.
In conclusion, Basket Case 2 is a very enjoyable film to watch, and the film is surprisingly uplifting with a positive message about friendship and belonging that is easy to relate to. This new approach was obviously going to rub against fans of the original Basket Case, but I, personally, found the film very enjoyable to watch because of how different Basket Case 2. It takes a new approach to the same characters, but it still pays respects to the previous film and doesn’t stray too far from the source: in the original Basket Case, Duane is trying to find where he belongs despite the fact he is burdened with his brother, in Basket Case 2, it’s Belial who’s trying to find out where he belongs despite the fact that he is burdened by his brother. To this day, however, there’s still a lot of horror fans who feel that Basket Case 2 was a disappointment when compared to the first film, but Frank Henenlotter himself said in an interview that he likes Basket Case 2 because it is so different to the original film, and, in the end, I agree with Frank Henenlotter.