Horror Bites - Body Bags

FRANKENHOOKER (1990)


This is a Frank Henenlotter movie, so from his repertoire there are a lot of staple ingredients you can expect to be included. You might have guessed from the title, but like his films prior to this it's weird, sleazy and full of black comedy moments. In fact this is probably the funniest one of all. They make sure to include plenty of Frankenstein references too of course, and in general the science fiction production values are pretty good. But you can't avoid the fact this is full of flying heads, exploding bodies and bizarre characters. For those familiar with with this sort of thing, it's exactly what you think it is. For anyone else prepare yourself, this is one crazy adaptation. The dirtiest streets in New York City await.

Jeffrey, once a medical student but now an electrician, spends his time experimenting on what seems to be a creature made from a human brain. What is it? Even he isn't sure. But his skills are about to tested when his girlfriend Elizabeth has what has to be described as a bizarre gardening accident. His compulsive nature pushes him towards bringing her back of course, and so he steals her head before the police can find it, and begins work on both a blood serum to keep her brain intact and plans for a new body. It's going to be even better than the old one, and hey she was trying to get into shape anyway. Like Basket Case and Brain Damage there are certain themes you can read into the plot, in this case it's probably people's obsession with their looks.

Our hero isn't the sort of guy to give up easily. In fact he's the sort of guy who drills holes in his head so he can think more clearly. But where can he find fresh meat? The answer is, as the title suggests by hiring prostitutes. Their lifestyle of selling themselves to fund drug habits is killing them anyway he figures, so what's the difference? His newly mixed batch of super crack will just be speeding up the process. There are a lot of images that will be burnt into your memory after seeing this, but the exploding hooker scene is probably the one that stands out. It's not remotely realistic or bloody, it's just a crazy fireworks show of limbs. With the raw materials all set what could go wrong?

The laboratory sets are fun looking, and all Jeffrey's anatomy studies have a lot of detail even if the wiring diagrams overlaying them are nonsensical. Of course this does go horribly wrong almost immediately, and Elizabeth is stuck with a mental state that seems to combine her body donors - she wants to go out on the streets to earn her take for the night. It's absurd as she wanders out only able to repeat sound bites the other women said when they were alive. People getting confused or turning her down are violently pushed aside, and those who take her offer up find that the explosive drug mix in her body and the electricity powering it will have unexpected results. This isn't a classy production by any means, but it will make you laugh and squirm. The levels of grime are high, and the zany nature of it all builds to an excessive finale. But it's got to be seen to be believed.

3/5