Whatís In The Basket? Kevin Van Hentenryck Interviewed

SGM Spotlight interview by Marc Lissenburg

Back in the early 1980ís, an up and coming actor cutting his teeth in the movie business had NO IDEA that a low budget horror movie he was starring in, (about a certain infuriated runt no less), would hold such a cult phenomenon for 30 odd years. Around that time, on the other side of the screen, and this side of Ďthe pondí, an acne ridden, gore hungry teen, (me, in case you hadnít have guessed!) had no idea he would be granted the honour of a interview with the wicker creel hauling hero of that classic 80ís Horror BASKET CASE. Well folks if you REALLY want to know "Whatís in the Basket?"... Read on!

Kevin Van Hentenryck

Marc: OK well first thing is first: a HUGE thank you from everyone at SGM for allowing us this little chat!!!

Kevin: Oh my pleasure, thank you.

Marc: And before we start... I have just watched all three BASKET CASEís back to back so if I come across as a blubbering idiot itís your fault entirely ok?

Kevin: (Laughs) yeah, yeah ok...

Marc: Iím going to get into BASKET CASE in just a minute but before we do that; I think a lot of horror fans have a romantic idea that anyone who has ever acted in a horror movie is naturally a big genre fan. How involved were you with horror in your childhood or did it only really take off after doing Basket Case?

Kevin: I was more of a Science Fiction fan originally, though Iíve gotten more into the horror genre now, but my original interest was science fiction.

Marc: The first BASKET CASE has so many facets to it. I loved the gore as a teenager but as you get older and watch it you really appreciate how the movie effortlessly captured that sleazy atmosphere of Downtown NY... how it used to be anyway. Itís just so grimy! Do you think this element might be diluted with a High Definition print?

Kevin: Oh I doubt it! The first film was shot on a 16mm camera, though we planned for the Ďblow upí they had a special eye piece in the camera that showed the lines where the blow up would be. I know Frank always envisioned the movie being very colourful and this was a little suppressed in its cinematic form, so I think the Blu Ray can only help with the original intention for the movie.

Marc: Leading on from that, the "HOTEL BROSLIN" from the original BASKET CASE made the motel in ĎTAXI DRIVERí seem like a Holiday Inn!!! What can you tell us about that place, was it a real hotel..? Have you been back since...??!

Kevin checks out!

Kevin: No no... There wasnít a real ĎHotel Brosliní. We started at one point to film at, shall we say, that sort of hotel near Madison Square Garden, but bums were coming up to us saying "If you give us 50 bucks we wonít steel your table"

Marc: Sounds like my hometown Croydon, except they would take the money AND the fucking table regardless!

Kevin: Oh really.. (Laughs.. ) So we ended up with the HOTEL BROSLIN being a compilation of constructions, and various sites. For example, whenever you see the (red neon) sign HOTEL BROSLIN, we hung that outside my bathroom of my studio in Tribeca .

Marc: As a 14 year old I visited 42nd street in 1986 and was blown away at being openly offered all sorts of substances on the street in front of horseback police! It was like Disneyland on Acid!

Kevin: (Laughs) Yeah yeah... well I was so glad we could actually capture a bit of the old Times Square. Itís gone now. Times Square now IS like Disneyland!

Marc: I recently read Frank Henenlotter disclose he is possibly open to a Basket Case remake but more interestingly suggested something could be happening with a Basket Case 4 project...?

Kevin: Yeah thereís a couple of things in the works about Basket Case right now... Frank has danced around the idea of a 4th film a little bit. Iíve actually started writing a 4th version of a film myself. Iím hoping, one way or another, weíll get to the visit the Bradley Brothers again..

Marc: I am writing a script for the new "Basket Case Porn Parody", but I tend to only write the first 10 minutes then my pen runs out of ink...(My poor attempt at humour seemed to go over Kevinís head unfortunately!)

Kevin: My god thatís a real thing? You are doing that?

Marc: (Laughs) No no.. But if I ever do I promise to forward on the fruits of my labours to Frank! Basket Case 5 perhaps? Who knows?!

Kevin: Please do! Seriously though, I have had people tell me at conventions they want to see a musical version of Basket Case! For my money I would like to do another Basket Case film... get the Bradley brothers together again at least once more!

Marc: I read somewhere that during the filming of ĎSharonís death sceneí in the original Basket Case, the crew got so offended they all walked off the set! Is this a myth or is there some truth to that?

Kevin: Oh yeah, when Belial was on top of her! Oh hell yeah, that really creeped out some of the guys so we ended up having to close the set and YES... yes that is true! Itís bloody, though, itís messy, you know so I guess thatís why...

Under the knife!

Marc: Your performance in Basket Case was a good blend of stunts and emotional stuff. I mean grappling with a monster, having your crotch in a vice like lock, falling out of windows and even running naked! What was the most challenging aspect????

Kevin: Well running through the streets of New York in February naked was up here pretty high on that list. And that came about because, the original script called for Belial to be running through the street, but when we got the Belial (stop motion) effects we realised that was never gonna happen. So Frank kind of re-imagined the concept. When it came to my nude scene it wasnít in the script originally, and he described what he wanted to do I realised, yes it would make that scene very punchy so.. well.. I agreed to it.

Marc: I have heard you talk very intimately about certain aspects of Duaneís character. Did you have much input into developing the complexities of his character?

Kevin: Well I did yeah but to be fair, Frank had ĎDuaneí pretty fleshed out. I did add some additions myself. One notable one is the Bar Scene where I am working with the legendary Beverly Bonner! Iím drunk and I say, well I am talking about the Bradley Brothers and I say "Duane and I" and after Frank said Ďcutí he said "Hey you said ĎDuane and Ií". So I said "yeah?" And he said "People are gonna think thatís a mistake" and I said "No they wont...." So yeah, I did have some input,

Marc: Psychic relationships with separated Siamese twins mixed with alcohol will do that right!

Kevin: (Laughs) Exactly!!!

Marc: The Basket Case trilogy has had theatrical releases... hit the video market... Laserdisc, DVD and now HD Blu Ray! I take it 30 years ago you had no idea they would be immortal right??

Kevin: No we had no idea. We were just hoping we could simply FINISH the first film! And then once it was finished we were keeping our fingers crossed that, you know, we would be lucky enough to find a distributor.

Marc: Whatís the strangest most surreal festival circuit experience you have had?

Kevin: (Laughs) Oh wow letís see... OK - somebody at ĎCinema Wastelandí had a Bacon flavoured Brandy or Liquor, which I thought was pretty rad! It kind of brought on intoxicated wildnessÖ As a matter of fact at the same convention they, at about 3 in the morning, they started playing sort of a version of "Twister" in the lobby of the hotel.

One of us!

Marc: I love the way the credits in part Two refer to the "UNIQUE INDIVIDUALS", Mouse Face, Ellie, Toothy, Half Moon, Worm man etc..So along with the Belial prosthetics, where are those props and masks now?

Kevin: Geez I donít know, I donít know. I know Frank has one has one of the original ĎBelialsí, from the first film. I have some of the clothing from the first film. I have one of the strait jackets from the second film, and I have one of the baby Belials the third film, so thatís pretty cool!

***For those of you who donít know, Kevin has taught himself the art of sculpturing and has designed many pieces over the years. Knowing that makes the next question make more sense!***

Marc: I love the quote on your website: "WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD NOT FAIL?" Where was that from? Does it specifically relate to your sculpturing and what does it mean to you?

Kevin: Well my sculpturing relates to life... But I saw that quote in a magazine, basically a Self Help Magazine they had this little quote and I thought, you know, that really does point to the main deal for most of us. I mean we are so over booked with considerations and constraints and deadlines. Itís just so important for us humans to, every once and a while, step back, take a breath and re-focus on whatís REALLY important because we are only here for a moment and the we pass on. And as they say, NOBODY on their death bed says, "I wish I had spent more time in the office..."

Marc: Very profound, I like that. Must remember to ring in sick tomorrow! I canít believe you had one of your sculptures stolen. I mean thatís just rude isnít it?

Statue ĎAyochí by Kevin Van Hentenryck

Kevin: I actually had two of my sculptures stolen, one of them I got back. The piece called "Relic". Basically, the guy who did the masonry work on my studio, was also the Highway Superintendent of a town nearby, and one of his guys was doing sweeps of the back roads looking for storm damage, on April 1st funnily enough. Anyway he sees a pair of breasts sticking out of this pile of garbage, amidst glass and old wood. So he goes over picks it up and brings it back to the shop and puts it on the table where they eat lunch. So when my friend Bob walks in, as soon as he sees it he says "I know where thatís from!" So yeah, got it back 5 years later on Aprils Fools Day! But what really gets me is after they stole it, when they got bored of it, they just threw it onto a pile of garbage. Rather than just throwing it back on my front lawn.

Marc: And herein lays the reason why I am a misanthrope!!

Kevin: (Laughs) Subspecies are out there....

Marc: Ok so, mindful of the time, lets end with what are your top three movies of all time?

Kevin: Oh wow top three movies of all time? OK... FRANKENSTEIN, the original, as far as the genre goes.

Marc: Interesting you said that because in Basket Case 3, in the jail scene, you suddenly say "Youíre Alive... Your Alive" when referring to Belial, and for me it was pure homage to Colin Clive!

Kevin: Exactly yes! For comedy it has to be HAROLD & MAUDE. And erm... you ever seen the film METROPOLIS by Fritz Lang?

Marc: Timeless classic AND German, I believe I have!

Kevin: Indeed. You see it depends where I am at the time. I loved seeing all the LORD OF THE RINGS stuff. Am looking forward to THE HOBBIT you know? But you know, recently I showed my youngest daughter Ingmar Bergmanís VIRGIN SPRING, THE SEVENTH SEAL and Felliniís SATYRICON. There are so many great, great movies I guess it just depends on the mood I am in you know?

Marc: Well. Kevin, all of us at SGM and our loyal readers will send plenty of positive energy your way in the hope that Basket Case 4 happens! Thank you again so much for the chat....

Kevin: My pleasure... enjoy the rest of your evening....

Special thanks to Kevin Van Hentenryck, Second Sight and Debbie at Aim.

The Basket Case Trilogy is out on DVD and Blu-ray now from Second Sight Films.

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