Sunday, August 26, 2012

Frankenhooker (1990)

Seen: On dvd on my tv, rented from netflix. Live-tweetin' with Corey Atad.

Soooo I saw a trailer for Frankenhooker at the Coolidge Horror Marathon last year and thought it looked hilarious, and became even more interested when I realized it was Frank Henenlotter (of Basket Case fame), a filmmaker I've been meaning to get into. James Lorinz stars as Jeffrey Franken, an eccentric young electrician and amateur inventor whose lawn mower contraption accidentally maims and kills his girlfriend Elizabeth (Patty Mullen). Distraught and half-crazed with grief, he hatches a plan to bring her back to life by giving her head (the one part he could save) a new body composed of prostitute components. Hilarity ensues, as does a lot of murder, mayhem, and explosions.

While generally fun and hilariously gross, Frankenhooker suffers the same drawbacks as so many other awesome-sounding b-movies: a decent premise spread too thin, resulting in large portions of mediocre padding between awesome moments. But I did so love those awesome moments, it's easy enough to forget the dull bits. There are long stretches of nothing happening, of unimportant conversations, and generally not enough of the title character. When she finally awakens I think there's about 15 minutes left of the movie, and she's the best part so it's too bad. Before that there is of course Super-Crack(TM), exploding prostitutes, and James Lorinz becoming more and more deranged as he talks to himself endlessly and tries to rationalize his actions, so I was reasonably entertained. At first I thought he was a bit bland in the role, uncharismatic and uninteresting, but he really grew on me as the film progressed and I ended up enjoying his take on the Victor Frankenstein-esque character. Patty Mullen is hilarious and downright weird as Elizabeth "Frankenhooker" Shelley, I totally loved her loud, twitchy performance at the end. It helped that her repurposed body also has deadly electric sex powers. Yowza.

Frankenhooker isn't much more than the sum of its parts, but my- what parts! I appreciated its twisted sense of humor, impressive make-up and effects, and general silly atmosphere. A cool bonus was that it takes place near my NJ hometown- it's set specifically in Ho-Ho-Kus which is totally a place I know about! I have family who live near there and also it's on the way to my mom's office building. Everyone's even got super North Jersey accents. Neato!


Pair This Movie With: The main premise is very similar to Bride of Re-Animator, and I definitely felt like watching a little Herbert West after this. Then again, I'm always up for that.


  1. I'd pair it with THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (1962)---FRANKENHOOKER is virtually a remake of the earlier movie, but with comedy and nudity. This is a movie I haven't seen since it came out and I'd really like to see it again sometime!

  2. You're totally right! I read in an interview that Henenlotter was inspired by THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE but then I forgot to include it when I wrote my post, whoops.