Frankenhooker (1990)

Seriously guys, you do not know how close you just came to reading a thousand words on Werewolf: The Beast Among Us. Monster movies that go straight to DVD aren’t generally very good, but someone I respect said this one was interesting so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’m still hoping to include a decent werewolf movie this year but holy shit this was not it. I got about 15 minutes in and pulled the plug, which took some willpower because it was already way past my bedtime.

The funny thing is a lot of it looked cool. Thanks to Universal’s deep pockets, the creature effects were solid and the exterior locations were flat out gorgeous. You know what got me? The firearms. The movie is set in the 1800s but the main character carries what is unmistakably a huge, double-action .44 magnum (basically a silver version of Dirty Harry’s gun), which wouldn’t exist for at least another 60 years. Lack of respect for period props is the kiss of death as far as I’m concerned. But lest you think I robbed you of an otherwise enjoyable creature feature because of a picayune detail that matters only to me, I’d like to point out that this is the kind of movie in which an American actor with no trace of a British accent laughingly refers to himself as “a penniless git.” You’re welcome.

The concept is Frankenstein meets hookers. Brilliant! Now we just need a title.

The story: Hey hey, it’s another round of Fun with Public Domain Properties! Frankenhooker gives the 2012 edition of the 31 Flavors its second lighthearted take on Mary Shelley’s immortal, copyright-free classic. In this case, Jeffrey Franken, a shiftless 20-something genius, uses his gift for reanimating dead tissue to bring back his deceased fiancée, Elizabeth, who accidentally ran herself over with a lawnmower. But with so much of his bride-to-be now fertilizing the yard, where will Jeffrey find enough replacement parts?

Rick Moranis asked if he could borrow this.

Biggest letdown: If you’re let down by a movie with hooker in the title you’re missing the point. Frankenhooker is cheeky, dirty, plenty gross, and not much more. To enjoy it you have to maintain expectations in line with a movie sporting the tagline, “A terrifying tale of sluts and bolts.” Nevertheless I found Jeffrey disappointing. He has plenty of personality and he’s funny, especially when feverishly muttering about stuff like the proper voltage to prevent varicose veins and “that chicken neck thing”. He just isn’t quite up to the challenge of carrying an entire movie. There are even several times when he abruptly stops speaking mid-sentence as he casts about for the next words. It bugs me because it feels lazy, like he was relying on charisma when he should have been running lines in his trailer. But I’m nitpicking. Frankenhooker is definitely not a movie that needs to be polished to succeed. Though if it was a bit sharper, it might come closer to Re-Animator, which is much smarter, darker and funnier. Frankenhooker has more tits though.

That explains why he’s so forgetful.

Why you should watch: Did I mention the tits? There are lots of them. Even Elizabeth bears it all at one point and how can you not love a leading lady who isn’t above appearing in nothing but a purple wig and platform boots? Way to set an example for the rest of the cast. Incidentally, does anyone know who started the idea that Frankenstein-type monsters must be dressed in purple? It was definitely a common image in the 80s (and it explains why Frankenhooker’s resurrection yields purple clothes, hair, nails and nipples) but I have no idea where it came from.

At least she’s not putting her elbows on the table.

I say come to Frankenhooker for the knockoff John Waters vibe, the wacky antics, and the exploding rapists, but stay for the stitched up street-walker herself, played by beautiful Playboy playmate Patty Mullen. She’s quite lot of fun to watch, and not just when she’s peeling out of her clothes. For the brief time we see her staggering through the streets in full undead glory, she’s immensely entertaining. I dare you not to laugh as she twitches one purple lip up like Elvis and the other down like Stallone, while spitting out spot-on imitations of the various ladies of the night who contributed to her anatomy.

Rock candy party!

Memorable Moment: How about when the hookers discover Jeffrey’s stash of homemade supercrack, pin him down, strip naked, and attempt to smoke the golf ball sized rocks? Jeffrey begs them to stop. He tells them there are programs they can check into and discourages their drug-fueled lesbianism. They ignore his pleas as the twisted Bacchanalia goes on for several minutes, which is just as excessive as it sounds. But trust me when I say the excess in this scene has barely begun.

Choice quote: “This ain’t your arm! This is one of my bitches’ arms! Where’d you get this arm?”

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3 Responses to “Frankenhooker (1990)”

  1. […] Frankenhooker – Serious philosophical drama. […]

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