Stars: James Lorinz, Patty Mullen, Charlotte Helmkamp, Louise Lasser, Jennifer Delora
Writer: Robert Martin and Frank Henenlotter
Dir: Frank Henenlotter
It is not often I can watch a movie I know is crap and still recommend it. Just about everything Frank Henenlotter has directed could be called a crappy film — but they each have just enough of the right elements to make them tolerable and, dare I say, fun.
I have been beaten down over and over again for loving “Brain Damage.” I have taken a lot of guff for enjoying “Basket Case.” And I’ve been kicked in the teeth for praising this terrible gem.
And, yes, it is bad — but so bad it is good.
I keep looking back at the past two months of reviews on this site and think, “The few readers/subscribers we have must check this blog and think to themselves, ‘When in the fuck are they going to talk about zombies again?’ ”
I promise, this is simply housecleaning.
I am a Facebook-rat. I admit, I get lonely and sometimes virtually reach-out to like-minded horror fans. I get about four to ten suggestions a month of, “Hey, have you checked this out?” Sometimes I simply say, “Yes, we reviewed it, here is the link, enjoy!” Other times I say, “Hmm, that might actually be interesting.”
Here is one of those latter instances.
I own “Frankenhooker” on DVD. I should be ashamed. I’m not. After Andrew did such respectable job examining the Frankenstein-undead/zombie inspiration, I pretty much disregarded anything Frankie-like.
But, you know, when an entire film is dedicated to an undead hooker, exploding crack-heads, and features a pre-porn career Heather Hunter, I have to dive in and argue it needs to appear here, even if it is only loosely married to zombie-lore.
“Frankenhooker” is itself a cult classic, something you would have expected to see Gilbert Gottfried and Rhonda Shear hosting on USA “Up All Night” in the early ’90s. I am sure it was featured at one point.
After gifting a self-propelled lawnmower to his fiancée’s father, which promptly runs over his hilariously “plump” lady, Jeffrey Franken (Lorinz), a nerdy and awkward inventor, sets his mind to bring back to life his severed bride. After Elizabeth Shelley’s (Mullen) accidental pre-nuptial death-by-lawn-utensil, Franken collects the salvageable pieces, including her head, and stores them in an icebox full of bubbling, electrified purple Kool-Aid. In the meantime, he goes searching for possible body parts, including using his life’s savings to rent a room full of New York hookers from a muscle-bound pimp in order to shop for the perfect parts. But when they discover he brought along his secret “re-agent,” a sparkling basketball-sized crystal of what they dub “super-crack,” all bets — and heads — are off. After a hilarious display of exploding hookers, Franken gathers up what he can salvage from Hookershima, and sets to rebuild his fiancée from the ’sploded parts. And, well, when he gets his girl back together, she greets him with a slew of the most familiar movie hooker pick-up lines — “Wanna date? Wanna go out? Got any money?” — with hilarious, robotic delivery. I must apologize, my friends, but when the newly minted Elizabeth shows up, and shows all her “quirks,” I can’t help but smile.
Oh, and Jeffrey must find a way to deal with/confine his new creation, even if she is going around New Your City and making Johns explode everywhere (no, that is not a euphemism.).
Beating “Bride of Re-Animator” by a couple months, and trailing the original premise of “Frankenstein” by nearly 60 years, “Frankenhooker” expands on the idea of collecting multiple body parts, each of those parts having an individual trait carried over from whence it came, and the composite of those parts struggling to find a collective identity. That might seem a bit heady and existential, but, nah, not for this movie. Henenlotter doesn’t go for deep meanings. He went for cheap laughs. And I was a sucker for them then and remain so now.
Looking back, it seems the “Frankenstein” grave had somewhat of a small robbery around 1990, with the Jeff Fahey/Brad Dourif starrer “Body Parts” also coming out around the same time and only a few short years later the Kenneth Branaugh/Robert DeNiro “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” (which, I, um, also kinda like). “Frankenhooker” is laughs first, gore second, and story third. It hangs together with loose stitches, but, hell, you weren’t expecting “The Godfather” with that title, were you?
Romero Rules Followed: Uh, none
Gore factor: Surprisingly little despite the amount of exploding bodies involved.
Zombies or Wannabees? The ending is open for argument, but, overall, wannabees.
Classic, fine, or waste of time: Fine (on the overall cult-status scale, it is a classic)
Additional comments: Look, “Frankenhooker” is a guilty pleasure. I’m sorry. But, meet me back here next week for part one of an exhaustive analysis of Season 1 of “The Walking Dead.”
And, oh yeah, might have had an issue or two with that one...