Frankenhooker is a 1990 American horror comedy film. It was directed by Frank Henenlotter, produced by James Glickenhaus, and written by Robert “Bob” Martin. The film was inspired by Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein.
Frankenhooker starts off at a backyard birthday barbecue in honor of Elizabeth’s father, Mr. Shelley. Elizabeth is the young, attractive fiancée of Jeffrey Franken, a bioelectrotechnician, as Elizabeth describes him, but also a scientist who dapples in “mad” science. Elizabeth gets her father a lawn mower for his birthday that Jeffrey has rigged up with remote control capabilities. Elizabeth is showing her father how it works when it begins to head towards her and runs her over. She is cut into a million pieces that go flying everywhere in a freak lawn mower accident. Utterly crushed, and being an aspiring doctor, Jeffrey Franken is determined to put Elizabeth back together again after the accident.
The first time we are introduced to Jeffrey he is secluded and alone in his kitchen working on his cyclops- brain creation. Everyone else is outside enjoying the festivities and yet he is all alone in the kitchen. After his wife dies, he takes his isolation further. We find this out when his mother comes into his room and tells him that she is worried about him and that he needs to go out and get a new girl. He expresses some concerns to her saying that he has become more antisocial and disassociated with reality. He says he can no longer differentiate between right and wrong, or good and bad. He tells his mother that he feels like he is falling into madness. His mother completely blows off his concerns, saying that she only requests that he not stay up too late at night. That is the only time he reaches out to anyone in the film.
Mad Scientist Edit
Jeffrey Franken takes “mad” scientist to a whole other level. We first encounter this madness when we witness him kissing the life size diagram of a human body with a picture of his dearly departed Elizabeth’s head taped to the top. He later has dinner with Elizabeth’s head which he has kept persevered in the deep freeze. He feeds the head a glass of wine and talks to it, showing it nude pictures he has cut out from magazines and placed on a sheet of paper with Elizabeth’s head on top. He drills holes in his head with an electric screw driver, claiming it “helps” him think. This is where he comes up with the idea to kill Hookers for their body parts to recreate a body for Elizabeth. He says, “If I need female body parts then I’ll just buy female body parts.” He explains that there are many women just across the bridge into New York willing to sell their body parts for money.
The theme of erotica is one that is evident in this film. The audience first encounters it in the nude pictures that Jeffrey shows Elizabeth’s head. Jeffrey explains to her head that, “I can make you into anything you want! I can make you the centerfold goddess of the century...just need the right parts." Erotica is also seen in the role of the prostitutes. In the first of these scenes, she comes up to the car and when Jeffery explains that he is “looking for parts, the right parts” she pulls down her shirt, revealing her breast and exclaiming that she has all the right parts he needs. She takes him to meet Zorro, her pimp, and in the background the audience sees people having sex in bathroom stalls and half dressed women. Later at the “party” while Jeffrey is “playing doctor” and examining the women for the “right parts,” he examines all of them, including their breasts and vaginas.
There were many mixed reviews on this. Variety wrote, "Frankenhooker is a grisly, grotesque horror comedy recommended only for the stout of heart and strong of stomach." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it a "hilarious, totally outrageous grin-and-gore comedy.” Others didn't seem to care for it. Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that "there is a legitimate sense of the absurd lurking within Frank Henenlotter's Frankenhooker" but it is "overshadowed by special effects and elements that recall soft-core pornography.” Rotten tomatoes currently has Frankenhooker listed as a 5.2 out of 10 on their website.