It’s time once again for another dosage of “Horrible Horror”, the mostly marginal special feature of Catching Up at the Video Store that began with college-aged terrors and then moved onto the inimitable talents of neo-slasher flicks before being attacked by a brick wall constructed entirely of just plain weird shit. This time ‘round, we take a look at more “conventional” nightmare fuel: vampires, cannibals, weird half-people in wicker baskets, maniacal law enforcement officers, and Brazilians.
· Basket Case (1982) (Image Entertainment / Something Weird Video)
The Short Version: “What’s in the basket?”
The Slightly-Elongated Version: Whether you love it or hate it, Basket Case is a movie that sticks with you for a long time. Personally, I love it, and classify this as one of my all-time favorite early ‘80s grindhouse shot-on-16mm messterpieces. Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck, the man with the best hair in show business) is a nice enough fellow (if a bit green), but his journey to New York City is not one of leisure: he’s here to murder the surgeons who removed his beloved, deformed Siamese twin brother, Belial (whom he keeps in a large wicker basket, which he carries everywhere), from his side. Together, they track down the butchers who they blame for destroying their “normal” existence. Frank Henenlotter’s sensational horror film receives a wonderful High-Definition upgrade from Image and Something Weird, which, even though all the bonus materials have been carted over from the 2001 Special Edition DVD (save for a new intro by that lovably crazy Henenlotter guy), is well worth the upgrade for the improved picture quality alone.
· Maniac Cop (1988) (Synapse Films)
The Short Version: It’s the Battle of the Network Chins as Bruce Campbell squares off against Robert Z’Dar!
The Slightly-Elongated Version: Having grown up renting one horror flick off of the video store shelves after another, I’m honestly surprised that I missed Maniac Cop the first time ‘round. Fortunately, thanks to Synapse Films, that inadvertent slip-up has been rectified — and presents this Larry Cohen/William Lustig classic in a glorious new High-Def transfer to boot. The story here has New York City plagued by a killer with a badge, causing one detective (Tom Atkins) to suspect the young officer (Bruce Campbell) whose wife was recently “dispatched” by the titular policeman. Richard (Shaft) Roundtree co-stars as one of the Maniac Cop’s targets, while the massively-jawed Robert Z’Dar portrays the famed villain himself — an antagonist who would return for two more movies. There’s even a cameo by Sam Raimi. Synapse’s Region Free Blu-ray includes new interviews with Z’Dar, Atkins and actor Danny Hicks, an art gallery, advertising spots, and some delightfully-unique scenes with Ken Lerner that were filmed exclusively for a Japanese TV release (and show just how magical the art of editing can be).