BASKET CASE, Hitchcock’s Head, and MORE!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Belial, Basket Case, and the Insane Legacy of Frank Henenlotter
- Image of the Week: Don’t Lose Your Head
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: Awaken The Beast
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
HORROR HISTORY: BELIAL, BASKET CASE, AND THE INSANE LEGACY OF FRANK HENENLOTTER
By Michael Vaughn*
The films of Frank Henenlotter will always hold a very special place in my grimy, trash-loving heart. Basket Case specifically is one of those movies you can watch any time and just let the over-the-top acting and blood-splattery goodness wash over you. Henenlotter’s first feature, it prominently showcases the body horror, campy comedy and over-the-top (but never mean spirited) gross-out gore we’d come to associate him with.
A quintessential New York film, Basket Case effectively captures that sleazy, urine-soaked immortality of the city in the early ’80s, paying loving tribute to the neon-drenched sin strip, lined with both Grindhouse and adult theaters galore. Henenlotter himself spent many hours watching movies throughout his youth in those very theaters on the infamous 42nd street.
You can’t really talk about the history of Basket Case and its rise to infamy without mentioning Joe Bob Briggs, who was arguably the first major public fan of the film. He reviewed it all the way back when it premiered at Cannes and was later instrumental in getting it shown for the first time in the United States at the Highway I83 Drive-In in Irving, Texas. As a result, it would go on to do great business at the Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village, with lines around the block. But it was the advent of VHS that really helped the film explode in popularity, spawning two sequels and a huge, fiercely loyal following. Doing his part, Joe Bob has repeatedly introduced Basket Case to new generations through his writing, his time at The Movie Channel, TNT, and more recently on Shudder.
Henenlotter never really saw himself making films for a living. He simply loved movies and decided to take a shot at making his own. I don’t think he ever thought that he’d still be making films almost four decades later, let alone that fans would still be enjoying them. I’m not a bit surprised that his movies have stood the test of time, especially a film like Basket Case featuring everyone’s favorite angry, twisted, squashed octopus in room 7. The film is entertaining as hell, while also serving as a window into a pre-cleaned-up, gritty New York that no longer exists. We may never get a Basket Case 4, but we will always have the Hotel Broslin.
I was fortunate enough to be involved in a film that somehow broke new ground with classic themes and straddled multiple lines within the genre. The Monster Squad was a kid’s adventure story with genuine risks that impacted viewers on a deep level. It’s been over 30 years now and I’m amazed that it’s still connecting with people across the neighborhood and across the globe.
Scary stories like The Monster Squad taught us how to problem solve and work together. They prepared us for the darkness and they gave us the confidence to fight it. They showed us that no matter what happens, if you can make it to the end with a friend or two, you’ll be alright.
*Michael Vaughn is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema by Schiffer Publishing. His work has also been published in Scream Magazineand Fangoria.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Don’t Lose Your Head
Why did Alma Reville keep Alfred Hitchcock’s head in the fridge? To keep the chicken company, clearly. The wax head was originally used on Hitchcock’s dummy in the trailer for 1972’s Frenzy, and the photo was taken by Philippe Halsman in the couple’s Bel Air home.
SPOOKY STAMPS, CAMPFIRE GHOST STORIES AND MORE
So your kids saw Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark and now they want more horror. What next? This list should help guide them through some spooky content from the subtly frightening to the profoundly terrifying.
Fall is on its way and the USPS is getting in the Halloween spirit with their adorable new Spooky Silhouettes stamps.
The teaser dropped for Scott Cooper and Channel Zero creator Nick Antosca’s Antlers, and it looks amazing. The film is being produced by Guillermo del Toro, so naturally it’s a creature feature with a kid at its heart.
Greg Nicotero revealed the cover for Fangoria Vol. 2, Issue #5, featuring the upcoming Creepshow and a bevy of insane interviews we can’t wait to dig into.
Before the film comes out, read Antosca’s short story that the film’s based on, “The Quiet Boy”.
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola did an eye-opening and insightful spotlight panel at Boston Fan Expo that was driven entirely by audience questions.
What do Child’s Play and Godzilla: King Of The Monsters have in common? Composer Bear McCreary. He was on the Fourth Wall podcast last week talking about life, work, and the sheer pleasure of remaking that Blue Oyster Cult song.
“If I believed this film could incite violence, I wouldn’t have made it.” The Hunt director Craig Zobel opened up to Variety about the controversial decision to pull the film and the real intention behind its satire.
Vanity Fair takes a deeper look at Ready Or Not and the resurgence of a horror subgenre that skewers the one percent. Wealthsploitation, anyone?
American Horror Story: 1984’s marketing keeps slaying with the addition of the Motels’ 1983 hit“Suddenly Last Summer” in their latest TV spot.
Summer camp used to be synonymous with telling scary stories by the campfire at night. Seems that tradition is changing with the belief that scary stories are potentially damaging to kids’ development. We beg to differ.
THINGS WE LOVE: AWAKEN THE BEAST
You can now bring home The Beast from Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy. Legion M has created a pristine fiberglass replica of Red Miller’s tool of vengeance, all with Cosmatos’ seal of approval. Literally. Each of the limited 300 replicas comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the director himself.