Feb 23, 2013
Although his almost accidentally ‘avant-garde’ black comedy horror flick Basket Case (1982) will always be my favorite film by probably the only true cinematic heir of classic 42nd Street Grindhouse exploitation flicks from the 1960s and 1970s, Frank Henenlotter (Brain Damage, Bad Biology) probably was most successful with his malformed marriage between bodacious ‘body horror’ and putrid postmodern slapstick and lunatic low-camp with his consciously and exceedingly exploitative and semitically eccentric anti-tribute to both James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Frankenhooker (1990). While Whale’s films are cultivated works of high-camp Gothic eloquence, Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker – a seedy and equally satirical work that manages to cinematically synthesize the cultural cynicism, misanthropic trashiness, and absurdist bodily dismemberment of Andy Milligan (The Body Beneath, Fleshpot on 42nd Street), the urban grittiness and social alienation of Abel Ferrara (Ms. 45, Fear City), and the Yiddish vaudevillian slapstick of the Marx Brothers (Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera) – is the sort of aberrant apocalyptic (albeit hardly serious) cinematic work of racial, moral, and cultural chaos that brings credence to American horror master H.P. Lovecraft’s words regarding New York City: “The organic things -Italo-Semitico-Mongoloid- inhabiting that awful cesspool could not by any stretch of the imagination be call’d human. They were monstrous and nebulous adumbrations of the pithecanthropoid and amoebal; vaguely moulded from some stinking viscous slime of earth’s corruption, and slithering and oozing in and on the filthy streets or in and out of windows and doorways in a fashion suggestive of nothing but infesting worms or deep-sea unnamabilities. They -or the degenerate gelatinous fermentation of which they were composed- seem’d to ooze, seep and trickle thro’ the gaping cracks in the horrible houses… and I thought of some avenue of Cyclopean and unwholesome vats, crammed to the vomiting-point with gangrenous vileness, and about to burst and innundate the world in one leprous cataclysm of semi-fluid rottenness.” Indeed, with its Hispanic bohunk pimps with multicultural army of female fleshpeddling crack whores, physically grotesque and morbidly obese Der Stürmer-esque caricatures of Jewish Johns and crackheads, race/gender-hustling ‘special interest’ groups entitled H.O.O.K.E.R. (Hold Onto Our Knowledge of Equal Rights), nefarious Negro pimps who tell people to ‘Do the Right Thing’ (undeniably an attack on Spike Lee’s irrationality-inspiring 1989 film of the same name), near-elderly, crusty-cunt strippers, post-industrial urban decay and sickening ‘street trash’ (it is no coincidence that the star of Henenlotter’s film made his debut in the 1987 horror/black comedy Street Trash), Unabomber paranoia and acute autism of the lead protagonist, and the most nasally nauseating accents in human history, the unwavering degeneracy and proletarian decadence of the NYC featured in Frankenhooker pales in terms of its all-around horrifying persuasion than the one Lovecraft wrote about during the early Twentieth Century. Needless to say, if there was any worse era for one to be resembled after being run over with a remote control tractor with the body parts of drug-addicted hookers and reanimated via crack by a quack doctor, it is the zany zeitgeist featured in Frankenhooker.
Having a beauteous, albeit big-boned, fiancée (former Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen in an absurd fat suit), neurotic novice mad scientist Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz) has everything a nefarious nerd from New Jersey could ever dream of, so when his girlfriend is gutted and grinded up in a freak lawnmower accident, he gets right to work reassembling and reanimating her postmortem body in a maniacal manner that would put emotionally vacant psychopath Herbert West of Re-Animator (1985) to shame. A crackpot genius of refined taste, Jeffrey engages in trephination via an electronic drill whenever he needs some intellectual inspiration to literally penetrate his brain. One night after a couple moments of insightful and orgasmic trepanning, jaded Jeff takes a trip to the more sleazy side of NYC’s sidewalks to see if any of the voluptuous crack-addicted prostitutes will make for good limbs for his female Frankenstein bride project, but instead he discovers the wild wonders of crack rocks, which will prove to be the missing ingredient to put his finishing touches on his reanimating and electrifying elixir. Jeffrey makes the rather wise decision of buying the marvelous miracle drug in a slimy bathroom with Star of David graffiti drawn on doors of the bathroom stalls from a drug-dealing macho meathead of a pimp named Zorro (Joseph Gonzalez); a muscleman misogynist who makes all of his girls wear “Z” trademark emblem (which he also sports like a retarded rapper on a gold chain) on their arms, which were carved in. Jeffrey also makes a business arrangement of sorts with Zorro, in which he sets up a huge hotel ‘party’ for the next night with Zorro's entire crew of crack whores, so he has a large selection of body parts to pick from for his dead fiancée. Needless to say, being a nervous nerd, Jeffrey chickens out like a true cuckold during his big night with the girls, but one of the predatory prostitutes discovers the mini would-be-mad-scientist’s stash of crack-laced reanimation potion, thus inspiring all the girls to smoke the rocks while ignoring their gentle John’s warnings. By happenstance, Jeffrey manages to get all the bodies parts, albeit mismatched, but beautiful biological material nonetheless when the girls' bodies explode after smoking the demented doc’s special blend. Jeffrey manages to bring his fiancée back to life, but little did he suspect that she would be a severely slutty and salacious ‘Frankenhooker’ (also played by Patty Mullen) whose sexual magnetism makes men explode in more ways than one. Apparently, Jeffrey did not take in consideration that all personalities of the dead hookers whose dismembered bodies he used for his Miss Modern Prometheus would be blended in with his lady loves, thus resulting in a severely schizo she-bitch held together with stitches who has sexual itches she must scratch, but not without a monetary and ultimately murderous return. When Zorro discovers his trademark “Z” logo on the undead prostitute's arm, he begins to investigate, thus ending in a final showdown between Jeffrey and his beloved Frankenhooker and the Latin pimp.
Concluding with a castrating surprise ending that would make any fan of ‘body horror’ feel like a born-again eunuch, Frankenhooker is a curiously crude yet clever low-camp classic of black comedy horror in an easily digestible, if not deleterious, form that – in its sardonic treatment of societal ills – is the squalid celluloid equivalent of dismembered Sour Patch kids candy laced with Adderall with a pinch of passé punk aesthetic asininity. If one could argue that aberrant-garde auteur Frank Henenlotter has a distinctive talent as a filmmaker, its is taking the 42nd Street celluloid exploitation trash of yesteryear in making it more palatable to more discerning audiences by adding a biting bit of debasing irony, as well as pumping up the volume on aesthetic and thematic vulgarity, yet at the same time refraining from totally mindlessly wallowing filth for an intolerable period of time like his fiendish filmic forefathers did. If you ever dreamed of seeing Elvira as the flesh-peddling bimbo bride of Frankenstein, but with same sort of sassy and ‘sexy’ attitude that Ms. Peterson is known and loved for (albeit to a less refined but more topless degree), Frankenhooker is indubitably your next best bet as a bodacious and even morally belligerent work of black comedy body horror that makes the unhinged world of crack-addicted hookers and whores of the typical Zionist American politician’s wet dream for anti-Anglo American into a semite-unsafe iconoclastic nightmare where hookers literally bust balls and dismember bodies, especially of obese hook-nosed fellows, everywhere between their gated New Jersey homes in suburbia and the cultural chaos they help stir up in cesspools of NYC that, “by any stretch of the imagination be call’d human.”
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 10:12 PM
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