Frank Henelotter hasn’t directed a film since Basket Case 3 (1992), but this come-back – co-scripted with rapper R.A. ‘The Rugged Man’ Thorburn – shows he hasn’t changed since his debut Basket Case (1992); which is at once a good thing, since he retains an unparalleled ability to come up with absolutely astonishing mutant ideas, and limiting, since he still isn’t quite up to the challenge of incorporating his freak characters into an actual storyline and tends to trot out a series of murders instead. Here, we follow two characters – almost Sleepless in Seattle style – who we perceive are perfect for each other, and who both narrate their strange physical circumstances: Jennifer (Charlee Danielson) is a New York-based photographer born with many extra clitorises and a ‘hyper metabolism’ that means she experiences unparalleled orgasms but also spontaeously gives birth to mewling mutants within hours of conception and sometimes has mood-swings during or shortly after sex which lead her to murder her partners; and Batz (Anthony Sneed) has self-medicated his penis, accidentally amputated at birth but reattached, with the result that his dick is now a self-aware, python-like drug addict who twists uncontrollable in his boxers and lunges after every woman who passes.
Danielson’s surprisingly sweet performance in a role even more extreme than that taken by Linda Lovelace in Deep Throat grounds the first half of the film – she is especially good in the murder scenes, where she manages to be naked and covered in blood but always expressing an understandable point of view (she kills one guy who came on all sensitive before-hand but reacted to her unprecedented suggestion they hook up again with a flip ‘whatever’) and showing how her physical uniqueness has affected her art (a magazine editor played by James Glickenhaus – who produced a bunch of earlier Henenlotter films – upbraids her for a vagina-face layout). Sneed’s storyline is less developed, and his performance less focused – and he might be slightly too close to previous Henenlotter protagonists (from Basket Case and Brain Damage) who have to cope with sometimes-detached penile appendages with a mind of their own, though this actual penis is more (ahem) on the nose than the separated siamese twin of the Basket Case films or the penis-shaped parasite of Brain Damage. Towards the end, the penis – like the Tingler in the William Castle movie – detaches itself and goes on a rape-spree which is treated rather squirmily for laughs as naked women batter away at a POV monster before being penetrated and doing comedy groans (much funnier and creepier is the hooker who has an apparently endless orgasm after sex with Batz and is still bucking and moaning as he dumps her in the park).
The mutant babies Jennifer leaves around town ought to figure in the plot, but don’t – and the finale, which kills off both characters (and the penis) but combines all three in their mutant offspring, is apt but still feels as if it’s been worked out at the expense of the characters and the actors. Indie horror nudie fixture Tina Krause (Psycho Sisters, Dr Horror’s Erotic House of Idiots, Penny Dreadful) plays herself (and gets raped by the penis-snake), as do a lot of rappers (who don’t get violated at all – this is a strictly hetero horror). It doesn’t look quite as grimy as Henenlotter’s first films, but it still feels like something you should shower after watching.
it is utterly ace and very wrong all at the same time!
I translated an erotic novella featuring an entire dynasty of detachable-penis people: The Secret World of the Sex Witches, first serialized in The Erotic Review (and available now in its entirety from lulu.com, if anyone can be bothered).
You mean there was a Basket Case 2? I thought I was the only person to have seen the first one!
Robert M Fenner
That looked pretty good, i couldn’t get down to see it at the horror filmfest last year though.
It’s very good, very original
we screened it at Mayhem Horror fest in Nottingham last October, it’s occasionally quite slackly plotted, but there’s something so fun, and so pushy about it’s need to offend which was generally quite appealing, Frank Henenlotter seems to love his characters so much, whoever they are… but the films wrongness factor was quite high, and we had a couple walk out – though everyone else thought it was one of the successes of the fest!
I love the title The Secret World of the Sex Witches! I shall seek it out.
I think BB is Mr H’s best film yet!
Brain Damage does it for me, but i’ll say it’s the next best!
I saw it at FrightFest and really loved it. I was hoping it would get a theatrical release just so I could go to the NPS and see the look on their faces afterwards.