Henenlotter is (or should be!) a well recognised name among devotees of psychotronic celluloid, he’s the man behind such awesome cinematic atrocities as Brain Damage, Basket Case and more recently the excellent Bad Biology. Frankenhooker was made somewhere in-between the above-mentioned titles and plays out as a horror-comedy, a subgenre that in my opinion almost always falls flat, but when handled with Henenlotter’s magic touch proves to be nothing less than genius. The film essentially follows the standard Frankenstein plot but with a couple of minor adjustments – a woman is assembled from exploded hooker parts.
When Jeffrey Franken’s fiancé Elizabeth is accidentally dismembered by a runaway lawnmower he manages to salvage her head and a few other parts, hoping to someday breathe new life into them. After some stimulating Black & Decker trepanning he soon comes up with a master plan – find & kill some hookers and use their parts to complete Elizabeths body – and sets out on his murderous mission.
Having sourced a few ladies of the night Jefferey has another problem: how to dispatch them. He soon hits upon another brilliant idea, Supercrack! Everyone knows ho’s love to smoke that rock, so why not cook up a batch of ultra-pure stuff that’ll snuff ’em after one hit. But his experimental Supercrack proves slightly too strong for the ladies and one after another they explode in a splatter-fireworks display of epic proportions.
Jeffrey dutifully picks up the pieces and heads home to reassemble the body parts and wait for the electrical storm that will resurrect his loving fiancé. Sadly once Elizabeth is reanimated she doesn’t quite seem herself and stomps off into the night heading for the stroll with Jeffrey close behind her.
Frankenhooker is a cocktail of late ’80s schlock with more severed limbs and tits on display than you can shake a dick at. It oozes that authentically seedy Times Square vibe which is reinforced with numerous location shots of 42nd St. with its XXX theatres, Johns and streetwalkers littering the avenues. Ultimately what makes this horror-comedy mix work is that it’s played straight-faced, particularly by James Lorinz who stars as Jeffrey; no matter what insane dialog he’s spouting or how many barrels of bisected breasts he’s sifting through, he plays it totally stone cold.
So, if you’re a fan of low-rent garbage like Street Trash, Slime City, Re-Animator, The Complete Toxic Avenger and the early Troma school of thought but haven’t seen this magnificent film, do so immediately.
I’ve long owned a beat-up VHS copy of this film so it’s a treat to now have it on Blu-ray. Although, I must say it looks great on either format, as its grimy washed-out look on VHS compliments it as much as the clean Hi-Def Blu-ray with gaudy colours all aglow.
Synapse Films’ Blu-ray disc presents the film in High-Definition 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1) with digitally remastered 5.1 surround sound and plenty of extras including: Audio commentary with Frank Henenlotter and special effects designer Gabe Bartalos; Featurette wherein Patty Mullen who portrayed Frankenhooker speaks on her experiences making the film. (9 mins); Frankenhooker make-up effects featurette in which Gabe Bartalos explains how various FX worked. (21 mins); Jennifer Delora remembers Frankenhooker. One of the hookers from the film rambles about life since making the film and fond memories. (20 mins); Jennifer Delora’s Frankenhooker Photo Scrapbook. Photo slideshow narrated by Ms. Delora. (11 mins) and a Theatrical Trailer.