Frankenhooker BLU-RAY REVIEW

Lady of the fright

Patty Mullen gets an infusion of energy in Frankenhooker.

Our second-favourite hooker, after TJ.

Release Date: 2 January 2012
1990 | 15 | 81 minutes | £24.99
Distributor: Arrow Video
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Cast: James Lorinz, Patty Mullen, Charlotte Helmkamp

Gender studies students seeking clips to illustrate your presentation on objectification: here’s a good place to start. Frankenhooker’s deranged protagonist quite literally sees women as an accumulation of rateable parts (“This lactiferous gland is almost perfect!”).

Set in a sleazoid pre-Giuliani NYC, it’s an all-in-the-worst-possible-taste riff on Frankenstein. The mad scientist of the piece is called Franken, and the beloved he pieces a new body together for is called Elizabeth. However, Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic didn’t feature a room full of topless hookers exploding like fireworks after smoking a new form of super-crack. Or feature a protagonist who sees his darling mown down by a remote-control lawnmower, sticks a drill in his skull to stimulate ideas, or makes self-aware declarations like “I’m becoming dangerously amoral!”

In director Frank Henenlotter’s defence, those working girls’ body parts do eventually wreak revenge on their pimp (not the ideal mode of female empowerment, but still…) And the movie’s offensiveness is so exuberantly OTT, with tongue placed firmly in (someone else’s) cheek, that it seems almost absurd to subject it to any serious analysis.

It’s not Henenlotter’s best work (watch Basket Case and Brain Damage first), some of the effects are crude, and much of the acting’s pure plywood, but if you’re the kind of exploitation-loving deviant who finds Re-Animator overly sober, you’ll be one satisfied John.


Henenlotter and star James Lorinz contribute to a commentary and a Making Of; the latter also features effects guy Gabe Bartalos. There’s also a tour of Bartalos’s lab, interviews with actresses Patty Mullen and Jennifer Delora, an effects featurette, and the trailer. The package comes with a reversible sleeve, fold-out poster and booklet.

Calvin Baxter

Read more of our DVD reviews.

Read our review of Brain Damage, another film by Frank Henenlotter.