Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Movie Review: Frankenhooker (1990)

FRANKENHOOKER - 1980 cult classic from Frank Henenlotter

Written by Frank Henenlotter & Robert Martin
Directed by Frank Henenlotter

Jeffrey Franken…James Lorinz
Elizabeth Shelley…Patty Mullen
Zorro…Joseph Gonzalez

Jeffrey Franken (like Frankenstein, get it?) is a med-school drop out, full-time electrician and part-time “Bio-Electric Technician”—which is a politically correct term for Mad Scientist. He loses his “fat” fiancé Elizabeth Shelley (like Mary Shelley, get it?) in a freak lawnmower accident as a result of his tampering in matters that are better left to God—such as lawn care. She is reduced to what a crass newswoman calls “a human salad…a salad that was once named Elizabeth,” and Jeffrey becomes obsessed with bringing her back to life. If anybody can do it, it’s Jeffrey. He’s already developed some strange human brain-eye hybrid which he keeps in a fish tank, and besides…his blueprints look pretty damned impressive. They would make a great poster for fans and collectors.

But all he was able to salvage of Elizabeth was her head, a hand, a foot, and something that is either a thumb or a toe. In order to bring her back, he needs body parts. What better place to go than 42nd Street in New York, which appears to be Whore Central? Arranging for a private party with a whole bevy of trashy beauties, Jeffrey plays doctor with them, literally, inspecting them to see who would be the best donor. But who to choose? This one has great legs…this one’s nipples are “awesome” and her breasts have “nice buoyancy”…this one has a nice ass. When the girls get a hold of his specially designed Super-Crack, it looks like he won’t have to choose after all. They smoke it and explode, leaving Jeffrey in a room full of bloody body bits.

The end result is one hot goth babe who just so happens to think that she’s a hooker, spazzes out a lot, limps around town with her Frankenstein Clodhoppers, and causes men to explode when they get too touchy-feely. As if dealing with all of this weren’t enough, Jeffrey also has to deal with Zorro (like, umm…Zorro), the angry pimp who wants to know what happened to all of his “bitches.”

This low-budget but highly-comedic classic puts a fresh, sleazy spin on the well-known legend. James Lorinz is great as the star, and Joseph Gonzalez as Zorro is thoroughly imposing. Only Patty Mullen, Frankenhooker herself, lacks a bit in the acting department, but that’s only noticeable during the brief moments that she’s in her Elizabeth persona. Henenlotter has the uncanny ability to turn low-budget but ambitious projects into masterpieces in their own right, when in the hands of most directors they would turn into Troma-fare.

Highly enjoyable.

Rated R
82 Minutes
United States

Hump Day. Not as bad as we make it out to be, not as much fun as it sounds.

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