[Article] How Basket Case's Legacy Carries on in James Wan's MALIGNANT
MALIGNANT l Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Editor’s Note: This article contains major spoilers. Do not read unless you have seen MALIGNANT or don’t care for major spoiler droppage. 

Last Friday saw the release of James Wan‘s return to horror with his genre-defying film, MALIGNANT. Since its release, social media has been in an uproar over the polarizing film, with some calling it an instant cult classic and others who found themselves less than impressed. Combining the supernatural with homages to Giallo and ’80s horror, MALIGNANT finds itself as a smorgasbord for horror fans far and wide.

In MALIGNANT, Madison (Annabelle Wallis) is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities. Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew chatted with James Wan about MALIGNANT and the similarities between it and the 1982 horror film, Basket Case.

It’s easy to see that Wan was giving recognition to some of the most beloved subgenres of horror. On full display are both Giallo influences as well as body horror. This becomes more notable during the much-talked-about reveal of Madison’s evil twin. As the craziness of that scene unfolded, I was instantly reminded of Frank Henenlotter’s horror cult classic, Basket Case, about a young man who carries a big basket containing his deformed, formerly conjoined twin brother. When speaking with Wan about the similarities he stated:

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it was an outright inspiration for this movie, but it’s kind of hard to not have “Basket Case” come up. “Basket Case” pretty much is a story about an evil twin, to some degree.”

Director/Producer James Wan on the set of MALIGNANT | © Warner Bros. Pictures.

There’s a familiarity to both Gabriel and Basket Case‘s evil twin. Their reveal and the horror that unfolds is, I imagine, just as shocking as when audience goers saw the reveal in Basket Case. Whereas the evil twin was in a basket, Gabriel finds himself on the back of Madison’s head. When speaking on the creation of Gabriel, Wan stated:

“When we were making this film, designing the look of Gabriel and how crazy and weird he is…It really just stemmed from how do we create a villain that is on the back of someone’s brain? And when it comes out all that we see of the brain is just an eyeball, a little bit of mouth, and teeth.”

The Conjuring director knows what he’s doing. He’s smart and precise and it comes across in the project he creates. Are parts of MALIGNANT paying homage to Basket Case? Maybe not directly, but one thing is for sure with us horror fiends, you can’t watch MALIGNANT without thinking about Basket Case.

“You know that there’s no way you don’t make that connection with Basket Case,” laughed Wan. “Cause that’s kind of what [Gabriel] is.”


MALIGNANT is now in theaters nationwide and on HBO Max for 31 days from the theatrical release. For more on MALIGNANT, check out our review here.

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