From the director of Basket Case and Brain Damage comes a film about undying love and sleaze.
Released by Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment
Release Date: June 1st, 1990
Starring: James Lorinz, Joanne Ritchie, Patty Mullen
Written by Robert Martin and Frank Henenlotter
Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Rated R (gore, drugs and sensuality, and for language)
What began as a birthday barbecue ended in a bizarre tragedy in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey today. It was this power mower that brought a quick end to the life of 21-year old, bride-to-be, Elizabeth Shelley. Like wood through a mulcher, the girthful fiance disappeared beneath the blades of the berserk mower that sent her personality raining down upon the birthday revelers. In a blaze of blood, bones, and body parts, the vivacious young girl was instantly reduced to a tossed human salad, a salad that police are still trying to gather up, a salad that was once named Elizabeth. -Newscaster
store across the street from the subdivision I lived in and my parents would take me and my brother there after dinner every Friday. I always gravitated to the horror, sci-fi, and action genres while my brother would grab the latest He-man tape or Nintendo game.
I remember this one VHS box. It had a woman on the cover. Her face was white (really white, not Caucasian) and she had some stitching around her neck and two neck bolts as well. She was coming out of the subway in Times Square and she had a stare that could bore a hole through someone. The film was called Frankenhooker. There was a button on the VHS box that, when pressed, would say “Wanna Date?”. I played with that box every time we went into the video store. I loved it. I had always wanted to see the film, but never really got around to it.
The film opens with our lead, Jeffrey, played with an enthusiastic deadpan by James Lorinz, as he messes with a brain with an eye that sits in a jar of purple stuff (not the same purple stuff from the Sunny D commercial… or is it?). His fiancé, Elizabeth, is throwing a birthday party for her father. After he blows out the candles on his cake, Elizabeth presents her father with a new lawnmower, one with the blades the face forward. She shows her father that the mower is run by remote control. As she shows him the different functions, the mower starts up and eventually runs her down, killing her.
Jeffrey realizes that he needs a body to accommodate his fiancé’s head, so he heads to Times Square to find some hookers. He plans to have a party with about 6 or 7 of them and then kill them for their limbs, which he will combine into a new body. He meets a hooker who takes him to her pimp, Zorro ( Joseph Gonzalez).
Back to the story. As he is waiting to talk to Zorro, Jeffrey sees that all of the hookers are smoke crack that they got from Zorro. When he finally talks business with Zorro, Jeffrey asks about the crack. When we get back to Jeffrey’s garage, we see that he is going to inadvertently kill the hookers with “Mega Crack”, which is all the crack that he could get, in a jar.
There is no way that I could spoiler the film for you, but what happens to Jeffrey and the hookers during the time that Jeffrey gets from Zorro, is one of the highlights of the film. Needless to say, but he gets what he came for.
Up to this point of the film I was really going with it. I was afraid that the film would lose me when it comes to Jeffrey and the hookers. We know that he is going to have to kill them and I was afraid that they were going to go the slasher film way and have a big, gory scene, with body parts everywhere and blood dripping from every surface. Apparently this was a concern of some of the people who worked on the film as well, but were relieved when they found out how the scene was going to play out.
It is at this point I will stop giving away the plot to the film. While I was watching the film, I noticed that this film shares a lot of similarities with Bride of Re-Animator, which was released during the production of Frankenhooker. I am not trying to say that the filmmakers stole anything from Bride of Re-Animator. I am merely saying that it was a good time to think of a Frankenstein-type film. The film is about a man who knows his biology and spends the entire film trying to put together a body for his fiancé. The films also conclude in a few similar way, something that I will not talk about, fearing that I would spoil one or both of the films. Just let it be known that both films end in very weird ways.
Frankenhooker was directed by Frank Henenlotter, who gave us the Basket Case trilogy. Henenlotter has a really insane sense of humor, but doesn’t try to offend. Like I said before, the scene with Jeffrey and the hookers could have played out much differently had another director been on the film. Henenlotter introduces us to his insane sense of humor and expects us to take it or reject it.
It is this type of humor, mixed with a sweetness that makes the film watchable to almost anyone. Having seen all of Henenlotter’s films, I can say that, despite the title and some of the nudity, that this is probably Henenlotter’s most accessible film. This is the story of Frankenstein told through 42nd Street. I honestly think that people should look past the title and they will find a film that is really funny and sweet. I know I did, but I would have watched it anyways. It is called Frankenhooker, how could you not want to watch it?