OOM #20 – Frankenhooker (1990)


Woo! Hoo, boy. Well, no one denounce this page, please, this is going to be a sexy one, I guess. Welcome to the October Overlook Madness, where we put titties in the top of the review. Welcome to another day where we explore the horrors present in the year 1990, mainly because the Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness decided to tackle another masterpiece of the horror genre, ‘Carrie’ (1976), which he tackles with enthusiasm but without the true force it deserves, as it’s among the 15 best horror films ever made, and it’s among the best five that James Rolfe has tackled on his series, and you can watch his video here. So… that leads us to my third Henenlotter film, and what a wild one it resulted to be. Continue reading and let’s see what happens.

Frank Henenlotter is maybe the best definition of a cult director. If you want to know and understand how a cult director works and how his ouvre might look like, you’d look no further than Henenlotter, who is a master of this kind of movie, with a consistent yet scarce output that maintains a highly personal yet very eclectic style. This is the third film that I’ve seen directed by him, and with every one I seem to be warming up to him while not exactly being able to sing his praises and come up as a loving fan, but I can see where it all comes from. One does not make two sequels out of a such ridiculous and inane film as ‘Basket Case’ (1982) without forming a cult and a legend around you. With outrageous visual effects, and a keen eye for how the hand made can become somewhat acceptable on the eyes of the viewer, Frank manages to shoot around the low budget and appear as an entertainer above anything else, and he makes them violent, bloody and sexy, and there’s nothing wrong with all that exploitation filling your screen at every time that you make a movie, if you make it consistent, it turns into style, and I think that this particular film is the culmination of that style in the best way possible.

This movie starts in such a smart and likable way that it almost immediately wins you over in its first five minutes. It starts with a couple of characters already completely constructed, and everything about their performances and characteristics is already included in those first scenes. The protagonist is an electrician that also wants to be a medical doctor, and we see him meddling around with a brain with an eye in the middle that is never fully explained, but it’s there to mix the two interests of the main character, where he puts some electrical current through it to make it react. Then we meet his fiancee, Elizabeth, a girl that’s always being criticized about her weight, and finally the context where all of this happens: the birthday party of her father, whom they give as a gift a remote controlled lawnmower, that when demonstrated chops and cuts Elizabeth in pieces. It’s a hell of a start, and it’s always funny and filled with energy inside every shot and in every performance. Now, I won’t say that this movie is great, but it speaks to me in a very dear way, as it’s mostly having fun with itself, but if I had to single out a problem with it is the one about the performance, that while good in the protagonist, it can become tiresome after a while since his voice is kinda annoying and yet he never stops talking to himself about how he’s going to resuscitate Elizabeth from her deadly slumber, by using electricity and parts of dead people.

The film moves along at a breezy pace, as it presents each set piece, and specially when we start to enter the sleazy world of prostitution, one that he doesn’t enter out of need of sex, but out of need of body parts, and how he becomes involved with the pimp and the drugs that he carries and the incredible sequence where he, dressed as a doctor, starts examining and measuring every body part of over 10 girls, later to… well, I don’t want to ruin it, as it completely blew me away, but it’s also a demonstration of all the best that Henenlotter can do, with all its flaws in special effects and political incorrectness. The final segment with the “frankenhooker”, which is the revived Elizabeth that runs around behaving like a hooker and going around in a rampage of sex, violence, blood and overall crassness and an amazingly funny performance from the main actress, with her electric twitchs of the mouth and the stiff way of moving with her legs split open at all times. This is a funny and outrageous film, and it’s commendable and great at what it does, because it does it with full consciousness of what it achieves, and that’s a refreshing perspective, and a fresh fresh film. I really liked it.




One response to “OOM #20 – Frankenhooker (1990)

  1. As you imply, this movie is about as fine a piece of exploitational garbage as you’re likely to come across, although perhaps not on TCM. I loved every moment of it.

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