Saturday, May 27, 2017

Frankenhooker


***½

Frank Henenlotter is a madman. A delightfully warped filmmaker who wears "distasteful" as a badge of pride. Hookers literally explode thanks to Gabe Bartalos' makeup effects handiwork. A flying severed head clunks a pimp on the head and knocks him unconscious. A Jersey electrical company employee, fancying himself a scientist and mechanical wizard, gives a section of his brain the occasional drill to soothe his state of mind! You see the film's mad scientist investigating as assortment of hooker body parts (these legs, arms, heads, etc are purposely of the novelty prop store variety... Henenlotter doesn't even try to hide this!)
 

James Lorinz, the wise ass doorman in Street Trash (1987), gets the semi-starring role as Jeffrey, unable to recover from the gruesome demise of his fiancé, Elizabeth (the remarkable Patty Mullen), decides he’ll bring her back to life…well her head (and the brain inside) anyway! The rest of her body, as so descriptively explained by a news report in all the gory detail, was chopped into gooey mulch by Jeffrey’s remote-controlled lawnmower. Yep, Lizzy was standing right in its path and was devoured by it! So Jeffrey is up day and night, making out his extensive diagrams, determining what needs to be done in order to bring his girl back to him. He decides, against his better judgment, to go searching for hooker parts in NYC, leaving Jersey suburbia for the back alleys where the ladies of the night offer their wares to looky-loos. Jeffrey needs only flash some cash and the ladies of a pimp named Zorro (!) organize a “party” for the next night. When Jeffrey sees Zorro selling dope to dopefiends, a spark of opportunity arises in his brain…how about he creates quite a drug that causes the user to explode! Off to the races Jeffrey will go and soon plenty of parts will be available to him! The hookers going KABOOM! is something absolutely twisted and stupendously bonkers. That’s Henenlotter, though. He’ll include an ending where Jeffrey awakens after his head’s been lopped off by Zorro attached to a female body while Lizzy, having gone through something similar, is enthusiastic about how her own work turned out such a “success”. The crème de le crème, though has all the “excess hooker parts” kept in a freezer with Jeffrey’s “purple life serum” following the lure of Zorro’s baggie of dope! Yes, these parts are “fused” into hybrid things crawling about, eventually dragging Zorro into the freezer for God knows what horrible things…and before they do, these things (that make Belial from Basket Case look normal in comparison) make sure to get the dope!

The dialogue in this film runs midnight black and is crazed as a loon. A sample:

Jeffreys Mother: Oh, Jeffrey... I'm worried about you.

Jeffrey Franken: Yeah - Well so am I, Ma. Something's happening to me that I just don't understand. I can't think straight anymore. It's like my reasoning is all, uh, twisted and distorted, you know? I seem to be disassociating myself from reality more and more each day. I'm anti-social. I'm becoming dangerously amoral. I - I've lost the ability to distinguish between right from wrong, good from bad. I'm scared, Ma. I mean, I feel like I'm - I'm plunging headfirst into some kind of black void of sheer and utter madness or something.

Jeffreys Mother: You want a sandwich?

Henenlotter hasn’t the bionic output of many of his peers, but what little represents his oeuvre certainly carries with it a willingness to go to the extreme, and there is no stem of the rose he won’t pluck for a reaction. It’s all in good fun, though. When you see Jeffrey trying to get this “brain cyclops” in a jar of fluid to follow his hand—similar to Cushing in Revenge of Frankenstein—while at a dinner table, as his mother-in-law bandies about getting arrangements taken care of for his father-in-law’s birthday celebration outside, it is obvious Henenlotter prepares you for exactly how his film’s work. He goes all out, immediately from the get-go, telling you his film will not operate within the norms of decency. As hookers snatch away Jeffrey’s stash of explosive dope, with him unable to stop them from ingesting it, with them sparkling like Roman candles before the pop; Henenlotter offers horror fans something completely different from anything they could have imagined. At the end of the 80s that produced Street Trash and From Beyond, Henelotter had a crazy road he could travel, and excess was the mistress he didn’t hide but shared with us all. Although it was now 1990, this film had it's heart still in the decade previous.

Henenlotter cast this movie with a treasure of quirky faces and characters. Louise Lasser as Jeffrey’s mom, devoid of just how lost to madness her son really is. Joanne Ritchie as the potential mother-in-law totally oblivious to Jeffrey’s mad science right on a dinner table as her hubby’s birthday party was being conducted. Joseph Gonzalez as the pimp with such control over his girls they have the letter Z carved into their arms as if cattle branded! But Mullen as the resurrected Elizabeth, with all those facial expressions and the gait, those jerky motions and cumbersome convergence of personalities from the various hookers that now occupy her thanks to Jeffrey’s attaching their parts to her; this actress is startlingly brilliant!

What a batshit crazy midnight movie. Highlight: a very excited customer for Frankenhooker gets the shock of his life. And it literally takes his head off! Oh, and going down on Frankenhooker was not a wise decision at all for an associate of Zorro's! There's more than a spark or two waiting down there!









Henenlotter never fails to reintroduce us to the bowels and dirty, sleazy side of his city. And while Jason Voorhees might have been advertised as the ultimate oddball in NYC, I think Frankenhooker gives him a run for his money.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Battlestar Galactica - And So It Begins

I couldn’t help but think of the unease with AI and ongoing development of cybernetic beings created by man, improvements in the field o...

Ahs

Ahs

Edc

Edc
Blog's Dead all Over
"... perhaps we invent artificial terrors to cope with the real ones."

--host, Donald Pleasence, Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Sbut

Sbut
Snip. Snip

Hal

Hal
There are many things under the sun
---Dr. Werdegast, The Black Cat

hal1

It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare.

Jtm 2

Jtm 2

Rave

Rave

Mrub

Mrub

Gb

"Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

--Ghostbusters

sm6

sm6

Rv1

Rv1

Nas

Nas

nos3

nos3

Lok

Lok

Po

Po

Ra6

Ra6

dawn

dawn

Dracula's Daughter ('36)

Countess Zaleska: Be thou exorcised oh Dracula, and thy body long undead find destruction throughout eternity in the name of thy dark unholy Master.

mh2

mh2

z2

z2

Hiii

Hiii

Fred

Fred

Ghspo

Ghspo
Movie, so-so, but poster, cool

Enl

Enl

nos4

nos4

gm

To a new world of gods and monsters!


No 2

No 2
Jason Lives

clothes line

clothes line

Ahorr

Ahorr

Cbi1

Cbi1
Case of the bloody iris

Wsha

Wsha

Mouth3

Mouth3
In the Mouth of Madness

Fdfn2

Fdfn2
Freddy's Dead '91

Vyr

Vyr
Vampyres 1974

Sh fr

Sh fr
Friday the 13th Part 2

Vlov

Vlov
Carmilla's kiss

f133

f133

Edpos

Edpos

Ttf2

Ttf2

Jm2

Jm2
El Hombre Lobo

Psycho '60

It's sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man... as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can't move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do... suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

Kife

Kife
Knife is calling, Psycho 2

Meg

Meg
Meg Tilly, Psycho II

ring 2

ring 2
the ring 2002, "the tape"

poster

poster

exor1

exor1
"the visitor" The Exorcist (1973)

Conj

Conj

Tz1

Tz1
"Masks", Twilight Zone

In the kitchen, The Shape

In the kitchen, The Shape
In the kitchen, The Shape

exc4

exc4

Ps56

Ps56

Hun

Hun
Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932

Ps89

Ps89

Cof

Cof
Victor and Paul, with their Monster

pcushig

pcushig

His

His

Efny

Efny

sus

sus
I'm going to grind you down to blood and screams.

--Innocent Blood 1992
Rest in Peace, Robert Loggia

wb

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

WZ

WZ

Edfen

Edfen
"Do not enter the city...It belongs to the dead now."

h1

h1
Look behind you!

Bs

Bs
"There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it."
--Alfred Hitchcock

linnea

linnea

Amer

Amer
Taste of metal

The h gang

The h gang

Nlc

Nlc
Old Skool Nostalgia

Hp

Hp

Smoke

Smoke
Got a smoke?

Strek

Strek
Live long and prosper

Hill

Hill

Castle

Castle

SRW

"This seems to be the place where the plot begins to thicken..."
--Spooks Run Wild (1941)

Frere and dummy

Frere and dummy

Mlove

Mlove

Alone/dark

"There are no crazy people, doctor. We're all just on vacation."

--Alone in the Dark (1982)

Lips

Lips

Fhz

Fhz

Ph

Ph

Vestron

Vestron
Vintage VHS

sm 3

sm 3

Monique parent

Monique parent
Erotique in Review

Were5

Were5

f13

f13
November 2015

Bmate

Bmate

--Wes Craven

I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that's not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.

Ms45 w

Ms45 w

Churcvh

Churcvh
The Church 1989

Ww

Ww
The Whip and the Body 1963

Lsho

"Now, no novacaine....it dulls the senses"

--Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Christopher Lee

Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.

Vampyros lesbos

You are one of us now. The Queen of the Night will bear you up on her black wings

The Unknown 1927

No....not sick. But I have lost some flesh.

Alonzo, the Armless.

Ckvh

Ckvh

Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)

Glen: We'd like to speak to the Townsends, please.

The Butler: They are not available till after sunset.

Bw5

Bw5

Jill

Jill

Mad Love 1935

Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: Gala - who? Not wanting a statue of him, are you?

Doctor Gogol: I don't want a statue of Galatea. You see, she was a statue herself. Pygmalion formed her. Out of marble, not wax. And then she came to life in his arms.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [calling to his assistant] Start the motor, Henry. There's queer people on the streets of Montmartre at this time of night.

Doctor Gogol: [handing him his card] Here, a hundred francs if you deliver the statue to my house.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [reading card] It's a go, Dr. Go... gol. First thing in the morning.