FRANKENHOOKER Blu-ray Review

Charlie Hobbs, Contributing Writer
Have you ever been up late at night watching infomercials and stumble across something ridiculously simple on TV and wonder, "Why the fuck didn't I think of that?" Well, Frankenhooker is the Snuggie of horror films. Frank Henenlotter's 1990 assault on good taste was a simple idea whose time had come. While Henenlotter burst onto the scene with his bloody brother-in-a-basket creepathon, Basket Case, it was Frankenhooker that really made me stand up and take notice. Synapse Films have taken the title from Unearthed Films, ported over almost all of the extras,  and remastered it with a fantastic HD upgrade into the current edition to beat. If a movie featuring a room full of exploding hookers high on super crack doesn't get you excited, you might need to have your head checked.
From Frank Henenlotter, the creator of the BASKET CASE trilogy and BRAIN DAMAGE, comes FRANKENHOOKER, a gory horror-comedy twist on the Frankenstein legend.

When Jeffrey Franken's fiancé is chopped to pieces by the blades of a remote-controlled lawnmower, he uses his dubious medical knowledge to try to bring her back to life. He reassembles his beloved Elizabeth using the body parts of New York City's finest prostitutes, and resurrects her during a heavy lightning storm. Unfortunately for Jeffrey, his dear Elizabeth's brain is scrambled and she runs amok on 42nd Street, turning tricks and bringing high-voltage death to her customers!

Synapse Films is proud to present the uncut version of FRANKENHOOKER in an all-new 2K high-definition transfer created from original vault materials and digitally re-mastered 5.1 surround sound!
Frankenhooker is one exploitation film that delivers on its promise and then some.  Everything from Gabe Bartolos' fantastic practical effects to the acting/overacting of James Lorinz is pitch perfect.  The film features a shitload of chicks in various degrees of undress making out with each other and doing boob tricks for the camera all while high on Jeffrey Franken's "super crack".  There is a sentient brain with an eyeball crammed into it, there is a runaway remote control lawnmower accident, there is a burly Puerto Rican pimp, and most of all, there is Frankenhooker.

Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen was absolutely perfect for the part of Elizabeth/Frankenhooker.  Her complete lack of talent lent itself beautifully to the wooden delivery required of the Frankenhooker role in the script. Gabe Bartolos' make-up effects did wonders for her on a staggering budget in late '90s exploitation terms. She seemed genuinely excited to be involved in a real movie, no matter how fucked up and wrong the premise.  Her immortal delivery of the film's signature "Wanna Date?" ranks among the great line readings of all time, right up there with Burial Ground's "Mama, this rag. This rag smells of death." James Lorinz may top line this film, but it is Mullen's show, and surely this is the best she ever got.

Frank Henenlotter is a hero among cult movie fans for a number of reasons. Not only has he made some of the most fun exploitation films of the last 30 years, he also co-created the single finest sleaze label on the planet, Something Weird Video. Even if he'd only created SWV and Frankenhooker, he'd still be a legend in my book.  Frankenhooker gets a solid thumbs up from me, and if you can't find something to enjoy about it, you may as well just kill yourself now.

The Disc:

Synapse Films presentation of Frankenhooker on Blu-ray is way better than it reasonably deserves to be.  The image starts out a little bit shaky, as the Glickenhaus Productions logo looks pretty haggard, but once the actual film starts, my fears were put to rest. The image is pretty clean, especially for a 20 year old cult feature, the colors are vibrant, which is important since much of the film is shot under heavily stylized lighting, and the details are punchy, leaving nothing to the imagination.  If anything, in this brave new world of HD, the effects suffer a bit from the increased amount of detail, but it is a small price to pay.  The audio track is equally impressive, which is something I didn't expect.  Even though there are DTS-HD MA 2.0 & 5.1 tracks, they bump pretty hard, and I found myself shocked at the clarity and power in the 5.1 track, and the bass presence is unusually good, as well.

Thankfully, Synapse have licensed all but one of Unearthed Films extras for this new set. We lose a trailer or two and some production photos, but we keep all the good stuff. There is a commentary track with Henenlotter and Bartolos, which is good for a laugh and really underscores the amount of fun both of these guys had with their work.  There are also a trio of interview segments with Patty Mullen (who seems to remember the entire experience through rose colored glasses), Gabe Bartolos (who gives a fun tour of the production and narrates some of his own personal home video of the shoot), and Jennifer DeLora, who plays Angel the hooker and provides the liveliest of the segments.  DeLora dishes on everyone, including James Lorinz, who was apparently a bit of a prick on set.  Of the extras, I have to admit that DeLora's Turning Tricks segment was easily my favorite and well worth checking out.

Synapse Films has done it again.  They may be slowing down their DVD production, but if it is to crank up production on the Blu-ray side of the biz, I'm all for it!  This Frankenhooker Blu-ray is fantastic and worth every penny!
Bonus Features:
- Audio Commentary with Director Frank Henenlotter and Make-Up Effects Designer Gabe Bartalos
- "A Salad That Was Once Named Elizabeth" - Patty Mullen Featurette
- "A Stitch in Time: The Make-Up Effects of FRANKENHOOKER" - Featurette
- "Turning Tricks: Jennifer Delora Remembers FRANKENHOOKER"- Featurette
- Jennifer Delora's FRANKENHOOKER PHOTO SCRAPBOOK
- Theatrical Trailer
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