DirectorFrank Henenlotter Initial DVD releaseNovember 10, 1998 Duration LanguageEnglish
WriterRobert "Bob" Martin, Frank Henenlotter Release dateApril 1990 (1990-04) (Houston International Film Festival) CastPatty Mullen (Elizabeth Shelley), James Lorinz (Jeffrey Franken), Joanne Ritchie (Mrs. Shelley), J.J. Clark (Mr. Shelley), Helmar Augustus Cooper (Detective Anderson), Louise Lasser (Jeffreys Mother) Similar moviesThe Girlfriend Experience, Risky Business, Call Girl of Cthulhu, Delirium: Photo of Gioia, Milk Money, Maniac
TaglineA terrifying tale of sluts and bolts.
Frankenhooker is a 1990 American black comedy horror directed by Frank Henenlotter. Very loosely inspired by Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, the film stars James Lorinz as medical school drop-out Jeffrey Franken and former Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen as the title character (who wears a fatsuit in the beginning of the film).
Jeffrey, a young man who lives in New Jersey, is heartbroken after his fiancée Elizabeth is killed by a lawnmower during a cookout. He decides that the only way to confront her loss is to use his science skills to bring her back to life. As her body has been cut into pieces, Jeffrey must take new parts from other women and he ultimately chooses to harvest them from the bodies of New York City prostitutes he lures back to his house and kills via exploding crack. He uses the body parts to bring Elizabeth back to life; her mind, however, isn't fully restored. The newly revived creation escapes and begins looking for customers, who end up exploding after encountering her. Jeffrey also has problems in the form of the pimp Zorro, who comes looking for the women Jeffrey hired. He threatens Jeffrey and strikes Elizabeth, which causes her to regain her senses. During all of this the spare hooker parts are reanimated into a many limbed monster, which drags Zorro away - but not before he kills Jeffrey. Wanting her lover back, Elizabeth decides to revive Jeffrey via the same procedure he used on her. Since the process only works on female bodies, Elizabeth had to use the hookers' body parts. Jeffrey has a brief moment of clarity before he realizes he only has female body parts. He then beings to groan in shock as Elizabeth says they will be together forever. The film then cuts to black.
James Lorinz as Jeffrey Franken
Patty Mullen as Elizabeth Shelley
Joanne Ritchie as Mrs. Shelley
Paul-Felix Montez as Goldie
Joseph Gonzalez as Zorro the Pimp
J.J. Clark as Mr. Shelley
Greg Martin as Rufus McClure
Carissa Channing as Dolores
Shirl Bernheim as Elizabeth's Grandmother
Helmar Augustus Cooper as Detective Anderson
Heather Hunter as Chartreuse
Louise Lasser as Mrs. Franken
Charlotte Kemp (credited as Charlotte Helmkamp) as Honey
Lia Chang as Crystal
Kimberly Taylor as Amber
Shirley Stoler as Spike the Bartender
Frankenhooker's initial release was delayed because of difficulty obtaining an R rating from the MPAA; the director recalls that one representative of the ratings body actually said, in a phone call to the production company's secretary, "Congratulations, you're the first film rated S." And she said, "S? For sex?" And they said, "No, S for shit." To his dismay, Henenlotter's conservative parents insisted on attending the film's premier in New York City; Henenlotter expressed surprise that they were not offended by the exploitative elements.
Variety wrote, "Frankenhooker is a grisly, grotesque horror comedy recommended only for the stout of heart and strong of stomach." 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. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it a "hilarious, totally outrageous grin-and-gore comedy".
Frankenhooker was named "Killer B Film of the Year for 1990" by E! Entertainment Television's Attack of the Killer B's segment.