Frankenhooker, A Retrospective

Frankenhooker (1990)Oh Frankenhooker how I love thee’, with your crazed teenage scientist, disembodied girlfriend as a result of mishap with a remote controlled lawnmower and exploding crack. It really doesn’t get any better then this in terms of crazed B-movie hijinks. And for those wondering and have yet to witness this cult classic, yes all of what I have just mentioned is actually present and correct within this third feature from director Frank Henenlotter.

This grimy little flick has developed a devoted  cult following over the years–one of which I am most proud to be apart of. Of all the six features that Henenlotter has directed over the past three decades, Frankenhooker is probably his most ambitious in terms of both scope and style. And wouldn’t you know it those good ol’ folks at Arrow Video are going to be releasing a special edition Blu-Ray early next year. I for one, am most excited.

Life on the street takes a strange turnAt a birthday party for his girlfriend Elizabeth, young Jeffery Franken’s present to her accidentally leads to a slight case of death, mainly for Elizabeth leaving only a head and few body parts left. Struck by grief and inventive know how, Jeffery decides to reassemble her from the remaining body parts, substituting the missing parts with that of hookers. What follows is a ghoulish treat of demented experiments, deformed creatures, exploding hookers and a very angry pimp called Zorro.

What pray’ tell could I possibly say about Frankenhooker that I have not already covered (particularly in regard to a previous post on Henenlotter’s films). Well to be completely honest with you (since one is in friendly B-movie fan company), I will essentially just wax lyrical about this wondrous piece of exploitation trash. To start with Frankenhooker was the first Henenlotter film I ever had the pleasure to sit down and watch. I say pleasure but it was more a mild discomfort and unsettling feeling that coursed over my entire body when I first watched this feature.

Seems like a hot dateI was only a young cult film fan at the time (a mere 13 years old) and had, at that point never experienced the deranged genius of one, Frank Henenlotter. Only having had viewings of films such as Evil Dead 2 and Leprechaun up to that point. The Basket Case trilogy and Brain Damage (one of his best features) where still unknown, making Frankenhooker the entry level Henenlotter experience. This is certainly one of the best ‘bad movies’ and easily ranks up there other cult bad film trash (such as Troll).

A little known fact about the original american video release in the 90s, is that the video box cover came with a sound chip. One which allowed various well known sayings from Frankenhooker to bombard your hearing with. Churning out the infamous “Wanna date?” line. It was undoubtably a cleaver marketing tool during the VHS era and even now this once cheap talking cassette cover is worth staggering amounts of money.

It's one way of adding a spark to your love lifeIt really is hard not to instantly enjoy this piece of crazed trash. It is just so over the top and utterly bonkers as to be constantly entertaining with each viewing. One wonders what Henenlotter might have done with various other legendary creatures from fiction, by giving them a sleazy B-movie twist. This is perfect Friday night film fodder, a cool beverage in hand and several friends who are just as crazed as oneself.

Now I’m not sure about you, but this forth coming re-release of a utterly wonderful Blu-Ray print of Frankenhooker ,truly gets this particular cult film fans mouth salivating. Frankenhooker still continues to be the most interesting B-Movie take on Mary Shellys classic literary gothic work. It even out B-movie’s the 1973 Blaxploitation masterpiece Blackenstein (aka Black Frankenstein). So sit back, relax with a dose of Jeffery’s super exploding crack (actually on second thoughts maybe not) and let your intelligent brain matter go to mush as you try to work out what will happen next in this whacked-out slice of trash. The release for this Blu-Ray really can’t come soon enough.


The brain with the eye in the beginning of the film is based on the advertisements for The Brain That Wouldn’t Die


James Lorinz … Jeffrey Franken

Joanne Ritchie … Mrs. Shelley

Patty Mullen … Elizabeth Shelley

J.J. Clark … Mr. Shelley

Carissa Channing … Dolores

Shirl Bernheim … Elizabeths Grandmother

Directed By … Frank Henenlotter


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Dominic O'Brien