It helps to have seen Basket Case and Basket Case 2 before viewing the final entry of the trilogy, but it’s definitely not necessary. As with most of these incredibly silly, monstrously cheesy gory 90’s B-movies, the plot is of marginal importance. The inventive and bizarre character designs are at their most appealing in this final chapter, the script is at its most ridiculous, and the ideas are crazier and make much less sense. The acting is expectedly pitiful and the plot is pointless at best, but the increasingly more self-aware accidental humor is generous enough to warrant seeing this utter schlock for yourself. It’s difficult not to laugh at filmmaking this absurd.
Susan and her alien-like hand-puppet child Bernard are dead (in the second film she is the daughter of long-lost Aunt Ruth) and Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) has been locked up in a straight jacket and padded cell by freak caretaker Granny Ruth (Annie Ross). Despite her literal bus load of deformed underlings, she remains one of the most abnormal of the bunch. Duane plots an escape to reunite with his once-conjoined twin Belial, a disfigured fleshy blob who communicates telepathically. Belial’s equally deformed girlfriend Eve is now pregnant (it happens during the opening scene and their coupling is a cinematic horror that must be seen to be believed), causing Ruth to pack up the crew and leave New York for the pleasantly rural Peachtree Valley to meet her husband Uncle Hal Rockwell (Dan Biggers), the doctor who can help with the delivery.
When Belial witnesses the birth of his twelve mutant babies, a dredged-up recurring vision of his original surgical separation from Duane maddens him to the point of murder. Meanwhile, Duane gets himself imprisoned in the local jail where the cops get wind of a comically sizable reward for capturing the "Times Square" killers and journey to the Rockwell’s mansion to kill Belial. Once there, the sight of so many freaks turns them hysterical, and they make off with the basket of one dozen growling ghastly babies, leading to an all-out war between the police and the army of miscreations.
The bizarre mutants are the highlight of the film, showcasing a creative knack for oddities and outlandish blood effects. Belial always ends up being little more than a puppet with the occasional animatronic expressions, but Eve and every other monster adorns massive and elaborate prosthetics and makeup reminiscent of grotesquely metamorphosed Star Wars inhabitants. "That’s not a pet, goddammit! That’s my nephew!" screams Duane, who was thankfully portrayed in all three films by the same actor (an appropriately demented performance).
In the same way that Sam Raimi embraced a comedic approach by the time he reached his third Evil Dead film, returning director Frank Henenlotter seems to have fully accepted taking Belial and his family of grotesqueries with only a grain of seriousness. There’s still gruesome makeup effects, violent bloodshed and gratuitous nudity, but all of it is over-the-top and humorous. The character of Opal (Tina Louise Hilbert) adopts some disturbingly erotic fetishes as she toys with Duane in jail, Belial dreams of being fondled by busty naked girls (Playboy’s Morrell Twins, in one of their only feature film roles) and Eve’s malformed children are tossed around like jelly-filled donuts. At least everything in Basket Case 3 goes beyond the first two in extremes, even if it’s all nonsensical; hilarity proceeds every line of dialogue, the plot becomes exponentially weirder by the minute, and no signs of a fourth film are anywhere on the horizon.
- Mike Massie
About Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991)
Starring: Jim Grimshaw, Annie Ross, James Scott, Fernando Gonzales, Tim Ware, Kevin Van Hentenryck, Beverly Bonner, Gil Roper, Tina Louise Hilbert, Wendy Parker, Carla Morrell, Pierre Perea, Carmen Morrell, Benny Phipps, Jackson Faw, Heather Place, Tim Warle, Marty Polack, Jerry G. White, Charles Portney, Rick Smailes, Jeff Winter, Bill Scully, Berle Bowken, Tim Kearns, Denise Coop, James Derrick, Donna Mage, Dean Hines, Larry Hurd
Director: Frank Henenlotter