Tuesday, November 14, 2017
my thoughts on.... 'Frankenhooker'
As with all of my reviews of films for The Creepercast, I fully recommend that you check each and every one of them out. I am one man and this is my opinion. I've seen plenty of movies that received reviews that were the complete opposite of how I saw the film. These writers, directors, producers and actors all put a lot of time and love into these projects. They deserve to be seen and appreciated for what they are. Everyone has a dream and I fully support the people that take the time to make theirs a reality. With that being said....
It was 1990 and the insanity of the 80's was barely behind us. Frank Henenlotter was in the midst of making his follow up to the bizarre 'Basket Case', while also taking on another twisted tale: 'Frankenhooker'. A modern take on the classic tale of the creature that never wanted to be born. Only for this version, she was made of the spare parts from some of New York's finest ladies of the night. The end result was less of a tragic monster, but of a monster with multiple identities and a desire to 'date'. Now, Frank is no stranger to the weird. He loves to push the boundaries of bad taste, not unlike his peers of the time and this film was no different. It featured creatures that seemed to have leaped from the fever dreams of horny 13 year old boys. Somewhere within all of the grime and gristle of it all, was a love story. One that drove an amateur scientist to do the unthinkable, after being overwhelmed by the grief he felt from losing his fiance. The problem was, that he was just as unhinged as the characters that inhabited this version of New York. The end result was not the dream that he had hoped for, but a nightmare of comedic proportions. Does this sound like something that might intrigue you? If so, then read on!
The story begins with Jeffrey and Elizabeth, about to celebrate her father's birthday. Jeffrey, being the soon to be mad scientist that he was, had created a remote controlled lawn mower. When it goes haywire, Elizabeth is shredded into multiple parts and instantly killed. Fast forward a short while and we come to find that he's kept the head and a few other spare parts, with the desire to put her back together so that they could live happily ever after. In order to accomplish this, he would need to obtain the missing parts from other sources. Using a power drill and his rudimentary knowledge of the human brain, he comes up with a plan. He's going to find the perfect analog for Elizabeth, using a hooker. After getting a bevy of beauties together, he has a change of heart and can't go through with it. The problem is, that the wheels are already in motion, as they've found his weapon of choice and are all killed. Seeing an opportunity, he takes all the parts and promises to put them back together once he's completed his bride to be. What he creates instead, is a monster. A street walking bundle of confusion that kills without knowing it. He sets out to try and make it right, but what happens next is something that you just have to see for yourself.
With a name like 'Frankenhooker', you kind of already get the idea of what kind of film you're in for. While it's not pornographic or even that overtly sexual, there are still several scenes containing nudity and sexual situations. It's not your mother's 'Frankenstein', let's put it that way. What Frank has created is a black comedy, that relies heavily on body horror and gruesome slapstick. The acting is not that great and the characters are fairly simple. What this movie ultimately has going for it, more than anything, is its star Patty Mullen. A former Penthouse Pet and a young starlet with only one other credit to her name, 'Doom Asylum'. This was, sadly, her final film, as she never worked again and went on to live a normal life. Patty is the lynch pin that holds this all together. She's bright, funny and just oozes charisma. Maybe she isn't the best actress, but the second act, where she first becomes 'Frankenhooker' is worth the price of admission. It's this part of the film that has earned it the cult status that it retains to this day. If the entire movie would have been her playing the role and the third act would have ended differently, then the whole movie would have been much stronger. Sadly, it felt like the ending was a bit rushed and created for shock value. Granted, it makes sense in the story line and was a bit of a morality tale, but you could have accomplished the same thing with other methods.
With all of that being said, don't take this to mean that I didn't enjoy this film. I had a lot of fun with it and it reminded me of the days in high school, where we'd order a couple of pizzas and watch something silly on a Friday night. It's the true definition of a guilty pleasure. For that and for the wonderful performance of Patty Mullen, I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars. James Lorinz, who played Jeffery, should have been played by someone else and some restraint would have been nice, in terms of the ending. If you can look beyond all of that, like I did, and if you enjoy your horror on the weird side.... then this might be something for you. Synapse Films did a fantastic job on the transfer to Blu-ray and the supplemental materials are enjoyable. I can see why this one holds a sweet spot in a lot of peoples hearts. Patty has gone on record saying that she'd love to play 'Frankenhooker' again, in another film. We can only hope that someday, maybe that will happen. Until then, if you own this film, expect strange looks from people who see it on your shelves, but that's the price you pay for being a lover of the bizarre.
If you like this film, check out some of Frank's other works: the 'Basket Case' trilogy, 'Brain Damage' and 'Bad Biology'