This quirky, inventive little comedy-shocker was only the first of many efforts from writer/director Frank Henenlotter, and it's certainly his most modestly budgeted outing. The gory auteur gets around this problem throughout much of the film by using suggestion rather than explicit special effects and focusing on the clash between Kevin Van Hentenryck's wholesome if offbeat Duane and the assortment of freaks who surround him in his bowery abode. With this fish-out-of-water framework in place, the director slowly teases out his revelations about evil twin Belial, culminating in an extended flashback that is among the film's most cheerfully creepy segments. The lumpy little guy himself is often shown only in flashes, jumping out of his basket on attackers or attached to his victims' necks. Unfortunately, Henenlotter stretches his budget with a pair of extended sequences that utilize stop-motion animation of a quality several steps below that of your average Christmas claymation extravaganza. Far more effective are those scenes that go for lots of blood and just a little Belial, or those that use puppetry, stationary poses, and offbeat humor. (One sequence involving indoor plumbing proves particularly amusing.) Although Beverly Bonner makes a strong impression as Casey, the hooker with a heart of gold who befriends the bewildered Duane, the rest of the acting is what you'd expect from a low-budget horror film. Playing Duane like a particularly winsome autistic child, Van Hentenryck exhibits a strange kind of charisma, but it's hard to tell whether he's a master thespian or just inexperienced. Lucky for him, Henenlotter has learned a lot from the schlock horror of the '50s and '60s, and fashioned a vehicle that renders all such questions of quality and skill moot.