Monday, October 12, 2009

Film Review: FRANKENHOOKER (1990, Frank Henenlotter)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 85 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: James Lorinz (STREET TRASH), Beverly Bonner (BASKET CASE), Patty Mullen (DOOM ASYLUM, former Penthouse Pet), Shirley Stoler (THE HONEYMOON KILLERS, SEVEN BEAUTIES), Louise Lasser (BANANAS, TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN).
Tag-line: "Some assembly required."
Best one-liner: "This crack shit's killin' 'em already!"

Frank Henenlotter is fast becoming one of my favorite horror auteurs. Somehow the exact median between John Waters and David Cronenberg; his films are garish, demented, and full of ramshackle, sleazy fun.

We've got another nerdy out-of-towner with a wad of cash (as in BASKET CASE), hitting the fleabag motels of Times Square with a result that, shall we say, is ‘less than fully human.’ This film is absolutely ludicrous, and in all the best ways- in 'Hohokus, NJ,' Dr. Jeffrey Franken's (James Lorinz) beloved meets with a lawnmower mishap, and, to quote the investigators, "Parts of her are's hard to be real specific." Franken heads immediately to the seedy side of the Big Apple to collect some 'parts' from the local ladies of the night, and the end result is slightly different than what he imagined...

We've got Louise Lasser as Franken's raspy Mom, an arm-wrasslin' Shirley Stoler as 'Spike' the diesel dyke bartender, Franken pouring Beaujolais into the mouth of his darling's decapitated head, a musclebound pimp named Zorro who brands his hookers with a 'Z,'

great use of 80's lightning effects, and a cameo from Beverly Bonner (Casey from BASKET CASE) as a proponent of legalized prostitution. Perhaps my favorite part is the fact that EVERY hooker is addicted to crack, and that Franken develops a 'SuperCrack' to quickly OD them and get the parts he needs.

The inevitable rationalization is that 'this crack's killin' em already,' and when the baggie is revealed, the workin' girls’ catfight over the crack is truly mind-blowing.

Worth the price of admission alone, though, is seeing our Frankenhooker (Patty Mullen), dressed in a shock of purple, contorting her face, and wearing Frankenstein lift shoes.

She actually succeeds in turning “Got any money?" and "Wanna date?” into catchphrases (which were evidently part of the original gimmicky talking VHS!). Something feels wrong about labeling this a masterpiece, but I gotta go ahead and do it anyway. Five stars!

-Sean Gill

2009 Halloween Countdown

31. PROM NIGHT (1980, Paul Lynch)
30. PHENOMENA (1985, Dario Argento)
29. HOUSE OF WAX (1953, André de Toth)
28. SILENT RAGE (1982, Michael Miller)
27. BASKET CASE (1982, Frank Henenlotter)
26. THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983, Douglas McKeown)
25. PELTS (2006, Dario Argento)
24. ANGEL HEART (1987, Alan Parker)
23. KILLER WORKOUT (1986, David A. Prior)
22. FREDDY'S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991, Rachel Talalay)
21. THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971, Robert Fuest)
20. FRANKENHOOKER (1990, Frank Henenlotter)

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