Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cocoon: I Return

After months of reclusion, I have been driven back to Blog 'scuse me by Monica's vindictive, threatening acts. Her very first offense, the use of Ryan Howard, was so indecent that Henry Lee Lucas materialized in my cubicle and applauded. Now is the time for action. We will recover, we will rebuild.

The timing works out well, because this week I saw Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case and want to take a few minutes to review. The only other film of Henenlotter's I had seen prior to this was Brain Damage, which was a little more polished but equally scuzzy, and had similar elements: hapless kid struggling through a love-hate relationship with a homicidal puppet; elderly woman who enjoys looking after a homicidal puppet; and things like this:

Twin apathetic nurses!

Kevin Van Hentenryck plays Duane Bradley, who as a child was separated from his deformed twin, Belial, against his will. In the present day (i.e. 1981, when drug dealers openly used the hard sell approach, all hookers were glamorous, and America was but one year away from the latest in gaming technology) Duane and Belial hole up in New York and exact revenge on the doctors who sliced them apart. The carnage comes easy to Belial, who for unexplained reasons has superstrength, the power of telepathy, glowing red eyes, and the ability to scale walls like an insect. At certain points in the film Belial is stop-motion-animated, which due to the $3.60 budget is even funnier than it sounds. Regarding the acting, Van Hentenryck makes Lorenzo Lamas look like Peter O'Toole; Terri Susan Smith, who plays Duane's love interest and Belial's eventual victim, employs a completely unnecessary intensity when doing benign things like asking Duane if he's toured the city yet. The climactic scenes involve a devastating crotch-grab and strangulation witnessed by a prostitute posse.

Three and a half stars.

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