Director - Frank Henenlotter
Cast - James Lorinz, Patty Mullen
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
MSRP - $24.95
Distributor - Synapse
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (4/5)
I saw Frankenhooker for the first time when I was around 13 years old. I had no idea it was directed by Frank Henenlotter whose film Basket Case I had already seen and loved. I just saw it sitting on the shelf of the Cult Film section of my local Video Library with a box that said Let's Date, and a title like Frankenhooker, and I knew I had to rent it.
It was definitely both a mindblower, and a chunkblower mixing fantastic gore with a great sense of humor which have been hallmarks of Henenlotter’s personal style since Basket Case. I haven't seen Frankenhooker since those video store haunting days, having missed out on picking up the DVD on any of it's releases. I wondered if it would hold up to those memories of the first impact it made with my adolescent diseased mind. Would it's vision of exploding hookers, out of control lawnmowers, and suburban mad scientist hold up to nearly 20 years of nostalgia?
Frankenhooker is every bit as good a film as I remember it being when I saw it those few times back in the mid-90's on VHS rental tape. It makes me regret buying a few too many editions of Army of Darkness, and not grabbing this a Hell of a lot sooner. I picked up both Basket Case and Brain Damage in their respective SE's on DVD, and yet the greatness of Frankenhooker eluded me, but not any longer.
The great thing about Frankenhooker, and Frank's films in general is how damn absurd they are. In Frankenhooker he takes a central horror conceit, the Frankenstein mythos, that has been told, and even parodied to death, and makes it into an absurdist splatter film sort of like a gore film equivalent to Monty Python.
The film stars James Lorinz (Street Trash/Sweet Life) as Jeffrey Franken, who recently lost his beloved fiancee Elizabeth in a tragic remote control lawnmower accident (you read that right). Luckily, Jeffrey is a medical school dropout, with mad scientist tendencies, and has stolen (and frozen) the one part of Elizabeth left intact after the accident her head. He decides to bring her back to life by collecting body parts from Time Square hookers, and creating a new body for his beloved.
To achieve he creates a sort of super-crack, which he gives to a bunch of hookers at a party which causes them to explode. He gathers their body parts, and uses the best of the exploded bunch to recreate his fiancee. Unfortunately, things do not turn out as expected, and Elizabeth seems to take on the personality of her parts, and starts turnings tricks and wreaking undead mayhem on 42nd St.
There are films whose description are more entertaining that the films themselves. This is not one of those films. Frank Henenlotter has with Frankenhooker continued his tradition of creating the greatest in grimy, sleazy, weird, and funny horror films with Frankenhooker. A tradition that continues on through to today with the recent (last few years) release of his comeback film Bad Biology, and is well worth checking out on this awesome new Blu-ray edition.
Synapse Films and Blu-ray have proven again why they are a perfect match. Synapse has presented Frank Henenlotter's Frankenhooker in a 1:78:1 1080p transfer preserving the films original theatrical aspect ratio, and let me tell you something, this is as close to perfect as Frankenhooker is likely ever going to look on home video. The colors in this film truly POP off the screen, black levels are solid, and deep, and there is a nice level of grain throughout. The level of detail on this transfer is seriously fantastic. It's transfer like these, that make me anticipate each Synapse disc much more than the last. Offering the best possible restoration to Frankenhooker, while maintaining it's film like presentation.
Synapse have presented Frankenhooker with 2 audio options a DTS-HD master audio stereo track, and a 5.1 remix track both in English. I kept it to the Stereo track for the most part segueing over to the 5.1 track for the purpose of this review. Both tracks are quite good, dialogue is clear and audible throughout, and the effects and music are perfectly balanced.
Synapse has put together quite a nice package together for the Blu-ray of Frankenhooker. However, from the research I have done a good few of these have been ported over from the Unearthed DVD from a few years back. The disc kicks off with a commentary track by director Frank Henenlotter and Special FX guy Gabe Bartalos. We then have a 21 minute interview called A Stitch in Time: The Makeup Effects of Frankenhooker. The interview is with Gabe Bartalos, and he shows off his photos, and videos from the Frankenhooker shoot, while offering anecdotes about the makeup work on the film. This is followed up by a 9 minute interview with Patty Mullen called A Salad That Was Once Named Elizabeth, we then come to a 20 minute interview with Jennifer Delora called Turning Tricks. Jennifer played one of the super-crack exploding hookers in the film, and is not actually in the film very long at all, but still offers an interesting perspective on her role, and the shoot. I do think 20 minutes was a bit overlong for this extra, and have to admit I tuned out after a while. The disc is rounded off by the films theatrical trailer, and a 2 minute scrapbook of on-set photos provided by Jennifer Delora.
Frankenhooker is absolutely an awesome wild ride of a horror movie. It's simaltaneously funny, weird, gory, and sleazy, and is definitely worth putting on your Blu-ray shelf. The A/V alone is worth the price of admission, as this may be one of the best indie horror Blu-ray's released this year. Highly Recommended.