Frankenhooker (1990)

There’s a bit of backstory behind how I ended up watching Frankenhooker. If I would have to guess, roughly speaking I must have been vaguely aware of Frankenhooker since around the mid-90s. I’m about 78% sure that I must have seen it for the  very first time on a mail order add for random B-list movies at the back of comic book. I was still a bit too young to really be interested in cult movies back then, but that was my very first brush with the movie. What truly gave birth to my morbid curiosity towards seeing the movie came a bit more recently, about a decade ago when I by sheer chance happened to come across a VHS tape of Frankenhooker at a store specializing in cult movies. I didn’t end up buy ing the VHS copy of it back then, but there was just something so kitsch and funny about the title and the cover design especially that stuck to me and would steer my thoughts back to it. Due to my procrastinating nature, it was only this Halloween that I finally decided to track a DVD copy of the movie down and then a little more time before I finally saw it but now here we are. And boy, that really was something strange and different.

My expectations were built quite high due to spending years on and off thinking of the movie, and I have to say that while it didn’t quite live up to all my expectations, I can’t really deny that it has a certain underground exploitation charm to it, which is why  I find myself thinking that with some repeated viewings and some alcoholic beverages included, this could actually shape up to a very entertaining, schlocky B-movie to watch with your friends every once in a while.

As a concept I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a movie that takes Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein and updates it to the beginning of the 90s with things like prostitutes, crack cocaine and, um, remote controlled lawnmowers that mutilate people amongst other things, so let’s just say there is very little you can do to prepare yourself before viewing this novelty feature film in all of its glory. On a purely theoritical level, it is quite bizarre and brilliant. You can’t really hate a movie that features amongst other things giant sized “super crack” rocks that literally makes the person who smokes them blow up into pieces, hookers having carved up branding on their skin to signify who their pimp is or the main character performing multiple instances of self-inflicted trepanation with a power drill to ease his grief over his dead girlfriend and spells of occasional mania.

The performances are about what you would expect. They won’t win you an Oscar but they do get the job done. Patty Mullen totally sells the idea of her being a freakish, slightly deranged jigsaw of a woman and the grimace face she makes occasionally after her resurrection is just hilarious, not to mention iconic. As for the leading man, James Lorinz actually kinda manages to do something interesting with his weird, half a maniac, half loony, semi-detached from reality mad scientist trying to resurrect his dead mutilated fiancée back to life. I especially liked in the beginning when he’s all dressed up fancy and is having a romantic dinner  (pizza slices) with the remaining parts of his fiancée’s body in the shed that works as his suburban laboratory, and you see him, amongst other things, make his dead girlfriend’s decapitated head drink wine. It perfectly captures the complete insanity of his character as well as the goofy horror comedy elements around which the entire  movie is built.

As a whole the movie is a bit uneven, but the sheer oddness of everything that is taking place on the screen redeems much of the slower parts and the entire “what the hell am I watching” factor has plenty of endearing appeal to it. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching a creepy scumbag getting electrocuted to death when he tries to have sex with a gruesome patchwork of a lady of the night and people exploding on screen after huffing some super-crack? I mean, can you think of something more appealing to do on a Saturday night?

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