Frankenhooker on Blu-ray

Saturday, 07 January 2012 10:48

“Frankenhooker” is a very much a movie in the Ronseal tradition. A daft blend of Frankenstein and a very soft-core porn flick, it is like a more risqué version of “Weird Science”. Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz) is a kooky and rather obsessive genius who loses his beloved girlfriend Elizabeth in a silly lawnmower accident, and then brings her back to life using body parts selected from carefully vetted prostitutes.

Although Jeffrey is determined resurrect Elizabeth (a role charmingly and sexily brought to life by Patty Mullen), he is tormented by the guilt associated with having to kill the hookers. Consequently he resorts to drilling his own brain to impede his sense of morality, and formulates some deadly ‘super crack’ which he knows the call girls will not be able to resist and will therefore trigger their own demise. As a bonus, the crack causes addicts to violently (and very comically) explode into helpful limb-size chunks.

Frankenhooker on UK Blu-rayNeedless to say, all does not go according to plan, not least because the prostitutes’ pimp is an imposing man-mountain who does not take kindly to losing his best assets, and also when Elizabeth is resuscitated she is not quite herself (to put it mildly!).

If viewed as a curiosity or a non-CGI effects tour-de-force, “Frankenhooker” succeeds in entertaining and showing the audience one or two things they will probably have never seen before. The money shots of the hookers exploding are definitely up there with the weirdest cinematic imagery ever conceived. The comedy value is boosted by the relative lack of gore, as they detonate as though they are stuffed with fireworks rather than made of flesh and bone, and although the production team have made every effort to make the cut from actor to lifeless dummy as seamless as possible, there is no hiding the fact that these are rubber manikins blowing apart.

This is a very effects-heavy movie, and the majority of them are effectively employed be it Elizabeth’s remarkable suture make up or the lightning bolts and electricity fizzing round Jeffrey’s laboratory. Other effects such as a single-eyed brain in a tank of purple goo are far less realistic but daft enough to retain some comedy value.

From the perspective of a frightening or shocking horror film, “Frankenhooker” is much less successful. There are barely any scary moments and no suspense to speak of; this relaxed atmosphere means that scenes that concentrate on Jeffrey tend to drag a little. As hard as Lorinz (“Last Exit to Brooklyn”, “Street Trash”) tries to spin them out, dreamily chatting to Elizabeth’s detached head or a skeleton adorned with a photo of her face, he just does not quite have the charisma of someone like Michael J. Fox to keep the audience amused.

The special features and technical details of this release are as follows:

  • Brand new high definition transfer of the film (1080p)
  • UK exclusive audio commentary with director Frank Henenlotter and star James Lorinz
  • UK exclusive introduction to the film by actor James Lorinz
  • “Your Date’s On A Plate: The Making Of Frankenhooker” – UK exclusive documentary featuring director Frank Henenlotter, star James Lorinz and special effects artist Gabe Bartalos
  • A personal UK exclusive tour of the Gabe Bartalos effects lab in Los Angeles, California
  • “A Salad That Was Once Named Elizabeth”: Patty Mullen Remembers Frankenhooker
  • “A Stitch In Time”: The Make-Up Effects Of Frankenhooker
  • “Turning Tricks”: Jennifer Delora Remembers Frankenhooker
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphries
  • Double-sided fold-out artwork poster
  • Exclusive collectors’ booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Calum Waddell

This adds up to another bumper package of extras from Arrow; newly-recorded HD material bolsters the SD bonus content from a previous DVD release to give fans all the insider info they could possibly wish for. The featured cast and crew are all very enthusiastic about the film, and Gabe Bartalos deserves special recognition for the excellent prosthetics and animatronic work he has done in this film and many others. One has to wonder how he sleeps at night when every room in his office showcases the horrible, contorted heads, limbs and other monstrous detritus from movies he has been involved in!

The HD picture quality is superb with barely any noise or flaws, and bright, vibrant colours that befit such a zany film.

To sum up, the movie itself is passable – it is entertaining but not especially funny and certainly not scary. Fans of quirky, off-the-wall horror movies will enjoy it though, and it continues the imagination-running-wild trend seen in earlier entries such as “The Evil Dead”. The special features bolster the release substantially and make it worth considering as a package rather than just for the film alone.

“Frankenhooker” (1990) is out now, courtesy of Arrow Video. The running time is 84 minutes approx, certificate ‘18’, and the movie retails for £24.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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