Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween Hootenanny: Frankenhooker (Frank Henenlotter, 1990)

This will be something of a quick capsule affair (in theory at least), as spare time is in short supply today, but I'll be going into more depth on this one when I get my hands on the Arrow Blu-Ray... In fact, I think the DVD I've got is probably not even in widescreen (yikes!), though it's a month or so since I last watched it. Anyway, let's crack on!

In a nutshell, the film follows suburban scientist Jeffrey Franken (brilliantly played by James Lorinz of Street Trash, which is another delightfully un-PC movie) as he attempts to reconstruct and resurrect his recently deceased girlfriend (ex-Penthouse pet Patty Mullen, who wears a fat-suit for the beginning of the movie), who was tragically chopped to ribbons during an unfortunate lawnmower accident. Not merely content to put her back how she once was, Jeffrey treats this as an opportunity to "improve" upon the original. And who better to provide the spare parts from which he will create Elizabeth Shelley Mark II, than a brothel's worth of New York City hookers. And to help precipitate the process of breaking down said streetwalkers into their constituent parts, Jeffrey creates his very own super-crack. Needless to say, when all this is done, and Jeffrey has finally resurrected and "refurbished" Elizabeth, she is far from the same woman she once was...

Like all of Henenlotter's movies, this is good trashy fun, but also has plenty to say. It never takes itself too seriously though, so you'll never feel like you're being hit over the head by subtext. Lorinz and Mullen provide brilliant comic performances here... and it's often little things like body language or facial tics (the ones provided by the latter, once she has become the titular prostitute, I found to be especially funny) that get some of the biggest laughs. Also supplying much of the humour, are co-writers Henenlotter and original Fangoria editor Robert "Bob" Martin (who ran the magazine from 1979-1986), who turn in a tight, fat-free script that has witty banter to spare. Also, kudos to cinematographer Robert M. Baldwin, who makes the movie look delightfully colourful and almost like a comic book... for this reason alone I'm eager to pick up that aforementioned Blu-Ray. 

If you've yet to discover the work of Frank Henenlotter (who I'd describe as being almost like David Cronenberg - due to their shared obsessions with sex and body horror - but much more fun), then I'd say this an ideal place to start. The exploding hookers scene (which must be seen to be believed), is arguably worth the price of admission alone.

To see my review of Henenlotter's earlier film, Brain Damage, click here...

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