Frankenhooker Blu-ray Review
Written by Ilan Sheady
Blu-ray released by Arrow Video
Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Written by Frank Henenlotter and Robert Martin
1990, Region B (PAL), 85 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 2nd January 2012
James Lorinz as Jeffrey Franken
Joanne Ritchie as Mrs. Shelley
Patty Mullen as Elizabeth Shelley
J.J. Clark as Mr. Shelley
Carissa Channing as Dolores
Shirl Bernheim as Elizabeths Grandmother
Helmar Augustus Cooper as Detective Anderson
Louise Lasser as Jeffrey's Mother
Arrow Video kick-starts 2012 with their newest wave of releases and they are going to have trouble finding anything as guilty a pleasure as Frank Henenlotter’s 1990 classic Frankenhooker.
When mild mannered biological engineer Jeffrey Franken’s fiancé gets killed by an out of control lawnmower, he puts his skills to the test by attempting to reconstruct her using readily available parts from street floozies. This is 1990’s tongue-in-cheek horror at its best.
The film is apparently written as a social commentary on prostitution and drugs, but let’s be honest, it’s a cross between Weird Science and Bride of Re-animator, stars Playboy model Patty Mullen in the title role, contains one of the most excessively destructive sequences and the creepiest finale of all time. Frankenhooker is easily one of the most fun titles you can get from Arrow Video.
You’d have to be of a seriously delicate disposition to find any aspect of the film scary and there’s a minimal amount of blood, but the dark humour and the amount of body parts is more than enough to make it an entertaining watch.
Besides the film’s obvious money shots (without giving anything away), there are some great little quotes, casting and scene-stealers to watch out for. I have to give an enormous amount of credit to Lousie Lasser and the writing of her part as Franken’s Mother. When her son is disassociating himself from reality, confessing to being unable to differentiate between right and wrong and is “plunging head first into some kind of black void of sheer utter madness” she doesn’t hesitate to offer a sandwich as a solution.
Special effects wizard Gabe Bartolas (Basket Case 2 and 3, Gremlins 2, Leprechaun 4) more than earned his paycheque on this project by creating some pretty bold sculptures, transforming Patty Mullen into the iconic Frankenhooker, but more memorable is the deeply disturbing surprises at the movie’s climax.
Comparing Frankenhooker with Henenlotter’s other cult hit Basket Case, you see a distinct pattern in the choice of male leads. Both James Lorinz (Frankenhooker) and Kevin Van Hentenryck (Basket Case) play socially inept, emotionally tortured characters, but are innocent to the point of the ridiculous and deliver their lines in the most indescribably awkward of ways, making them seem like warped children’s presenters. This cleverly ensures that no matter what atrocities they find themselves knee deep in, you can’t help but root for the twisted Schmucks.
If you have a bizarre sense of humour and like to see some of the weirdest pieces of 1990s nostalgia, Frankenhooker is most definitely a great choice. If however you want a serious film and are deeply offended with the bastardising of Mary Shelley’s classic tale, then I’m surprised you’re still reading this.
Video and Audio:
Once again Arrow Video sets the standard in high quality digital restoration and enhancement by presenting the film in 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen and really bringing out the colours that my old TV could never have picked up. I genuinely can’t imagine the sound quality getting any clearer. Combined, I’m pretty sure not even the director saw or heard the film quite this well before. The only issue with this high quality is any little flaws in the special effects are going to rear their (often literal) heads. But when you are dealing with films like this, believability isn’t exactly on the agenda.
Now that the film is out of the way let’s talk about the REAL saucy treats. As with all of Arrow Video’s releases Frankenhooker comes with a gluttonous amount of extras. As well as a ‘Making Of’ there are interviews with the director, cast and an exclusive tour of Gabe Bartalo’s special effects studio. Seeing as the film was made back-to-back with Basket Case 2, there’s a lot of crossover that should make the seasoned horror fan extremely happy. This is fully embraced by including a collection of trailers, including Henenlotter’s earlier movies Basket Case and Brain Damage.
Together it totals over 1½ hours of additional footage yet never feels like it’s scraping the bottom of the barrel.
The most entertaining of the extras is the interview with actress Jennifer Delora (Prostitute 3 aka Angel), who has no trouble in telling you EXACTLY what she thinks, which can be a refreshing contrast to a lot of the staged interviews you see accompanying big budget films.
Finally, the Blu-ray will have multiple, classic cover choices and a specially commissioned option from artist Graham Humphries. It will also include Arrow’s double sided poster and booklet combo.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity stills and not a reflection of the Blu-ray image. *
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