Thursday, October 13, 2011

31 Days of Fright: Wanna Date? FRANKENHOOKER (1990) Wants to Know!

I originally thought that the move from DVD to Blu-Ray would be an excuse I could use to upgrade from my current VHS/DVD deck to a Blu-Ray machine with WiFi. Unfortunately, my wife doesn't seem to buy the argument that "all this stuff is coming out on Blu-Ray" so I need to invest in a player. Until I wear her down I'm happy to have folks like Chuck Francisco of The Midnight Cheese who are willing to checkout stuff like Frank Henenlotter's awesome slab of 90s trash, FRANKENHOOKER.

Not many films have the balls to just lay it all out there for you in the title. This is especially true when the film in question is a horror-comedy depicting a crazed electrical genius who attempts to reconstruct his mulched fiancé from the body parts of 42nd Street working girls – who themselves exploded after smoking his vice-pioneering "super crack".

The electrical genius in question is Jeffery (played by James Lorinz), a wholesome Jersey boy, devoted fiancé and full-time tinkerer. In fact, it is his tinkering which sets this whole tragedy spinning in the first place. You see, Jeffrey modifies a gift for his soon-to-be-father-in-law, turning an ordinary gardening tool into a remote-controlled, fiancé-dicing implement from hell.  Still, no harm-no foul, until well-meaning daughter Elizabeth plays with the remote control while her back is to the mower. Yup. Particularly funny is the completely tactless reporter covering the story of the birthday gift gone awry.

As you can imagine, this tragic turn of events sends Jeffery into a depression spiral. He's determined to bring Elizabeth back, but he only managed to save her head – the rest of her body was so badly destroyed as to be unusable. Applying liberal amounts of drill bit to stimulate his own higher brain functions (c'mon folks, the flick's called FRANKENHOOKER), Jeffrey comes to the conclusion that if he can find a prostitute with the perfect body, kill her with his super-powerful version of crack, attach his beloved's head and hit that body with a record thunderstorm's blast of electricity, then everything will be right as rain.

As you can imagine everything doesn't go as planned. The prostitutes find Jeffery's super crack, wrestle it off of him and street walkers explode like it's the Fourth of July.

While James Lorinz's performance is exceptionally hysterical, once she's reanimated from a mish-mash of prostitute parts, Elizabeth's (Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen) awkward stumbling, shuffling, jerky Frankenstein monster movements and crazy, twisted lip, spasmodic motor-mouth becomes the center ring attraction. It seems that mixing up so many hookers wasn't such a good idea as Elizabeth's first impulse is to take the subway to 42nd Street and look for a paying john.

I'm not even doing FRANKENHOOKER's plot justice. It's absurdist to the 10th degree and completely hysterical. It's the type of film you subject unsuspecting friends to and for which they love you (most times). There isn't a better time to consider checking it out than with this Blu-Ray release. The transfer is from vault archives and looks fantastic. There are a few scenes where there's a very slight, barely noticeable texture to the look. I mostly noticed this during the scenes in Jeffery's New Jersey home, but oddly not during the scenes in his garage-based science lab. If anything, it adds to the film in my opinion. It's almost like a filter over the film, painting a sharper contrast between normal life and the lives of those in the 42nd Street scenes. The electricity effects look wonderful and really pop in every instance. It makes we want to watch WEIRD SCIENCE on Blu-Ray to see if the same is true there.

However, not everything was meant to be seen it quite this high a clarity. Some things which would otherwise blend in fine stick out here just a little more than they otherwise would. Two things specifically caught my attention, both during the prostitute party scene. The first is a serious case of cottage cheese ass that I don't remember being visible in my VHS copy. The second is that the ten frame switch between the prostitutes and their exploding dummy bodies is clearer and those bodies look a little papier-mache-like. These little gripes are small potatoes when stacked up against the chance to own FRANKENHOOKER in such a clean, sharp release.

There are a few nice special features packed in for you to check out. A Salad That was Once Named Elizabeth is a question and answer session with Patty Mullen, who played Elizabeth/Frankenhooker. She has a fun time answering the questions and is still very pleasing on the eyes There's also a very enlightening make-up effects featurette entitled A Stitch in Time. Surprisingly, the most compelling bonus features center on Jennifer Delora. You might remember her from the hooker party scene as Angel, the working girl with the curly red hair. The interview with her quickly devolves into her ripping on her co-stars without holding back. This is the kind of good stuff that we rarely get to see on a modern release and there's also a collection of Ms. Delora's photos from the set, which provide a cool insider look behind-the-scenes of this 20th century trash classic.

FRANKENHOOKER on Blu-Ray will be available to add to your collection on November 8th. WANNA DATE? – Chuck Francisco

We receive a small commission for purchases made at Amazon through this blog. Thanks for your support!

No comments: