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Film / Frankenhooker

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My heart is packed so full of love for you,
That I dreamed I exploded—like aerosol cans sometimes do.
I blew with such force that my bones became shrapnel,
And leveled the town, except a small chapel.
My teeth flew like bullets!
(I didn't know what was happening)
They killed everyone in sight;
Except for the chaplin.
And then, thanks to him, we were happily wed;
Even though at the time, I think we were both dead.
The end.
"Warning: Contents Under Pressure" by Jeffrey Franken

Frankenhooker is a low-budget horror-comedy written and directed by Frank Henenlotter and released in 1990.

It begins with a happy young couple, Jeffrey Franken and Elizabeth Shelley, madly in love and soon to wed. The whole family has gathered for the father of the bride's birthday, and young Jeffrey is spending his time obsessively working on some kind of weird eye-in-a-brain-hooked-to-a-television-screen thing. When Elizabeth finally pulls him away from his project—allowing room for her mother to make her coleslaw—she takes him outside to the party. Her gift for her father is a brand new lawnmower, which her brilliant husband-to-be has rigged with a remote control. She's so excited by this, she can't help but demonstrate how it works... while standing in front of it. Liquification Ensues.

Jeffrey is distraught by the death of his beloved, but there is hope. Somehow, he manages to grab and run off with Elizabeth's severed head, which he stashes away in a meat freezer full of a strange, bubbling, purple liquid. All he needs is some body parts. After contemplating the moral issues involved in acquiring these parts, he finally decides his best course of action is to find and kill some hookers and reconstruct Elizabeth from the best pieces.

The results are nothing short of pure insanity.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Applied Phlebotinum: Jeffrey's special concoction, based on estrogen. It allows him to preserve human flesh in a way that later allows him to bring it back to life. The only major limitation is that it only works on women... unfortunately for him.
  • Attractive Zombie: The movie puts a raunchier spin on this, with a medical student who resurrects his dead fiancé by building her a body assembled from local streetwalkers.
  • Big Bad: Jeffrey Franken, our hooker-chopping, Mad Scientist Villain Protagonist.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Jeffrey's small garden shed houses a sizable makeshift laboratory.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Considering there's a scene with exploding prostitutes, it's amazingly gore-free. There are a lot of sparks and smoke, however.
  • Body Horror: Zorro is killed by a monster comprised of rejected prostitute parts.
  • Book Safe: Jeffrey keeps a video tape of the news report on Elizabeth's death stashed away in a hollowed-out copy of Grays Anatomy.
  • Brick Joke: While Jeffrey is "Playing Doctor" with the hookers, he shows his approval by invokeddrawing a check mark on one woman's butt with a black marker. Later, when the rebuilt Elizabeth strips down to have sex with a John, you can see the check mark on her bare behind as soon as she turns her back to the camera.
  • Came Back Wrong: Elizabeth at first. Jeffrey comes back wrong as well — and bustier.
  • Camp: One of the campiest Body Horror films ever made.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Since the ladies of the night are selling their parts anyway... why not?
  • Fanservice / Fan Disservice: There's plenty of both, depending on the viewer's own personal tastes. As would be expected of a movie about hookers and reconstructing the dead.
  • Fun with Acronyms: A woman is seen on a trashy talk show endorsing an organization in favor of legalizing prostitution: H.O.O.K.E.R., or Holding On to Our Knowledge of Equal Rights.
  • Gender Bender: Elizabeth grafts Jeffrey's head onto the body of a big breasted hooker. He's not pleased.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Elizabeth's mishap with the remote-controlled lawnmower. We see her scream, and it cuts to a splatter of blood hitting a garden gnome.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Sort of an unusual example of this trope, Jeffrey gets a buzz from trephination—that is, he drills holes in his own head. This is how he overcomes his own moral qualms about killing hookers to bring back his beloved.
    • It's also where he gets his ideas: when he needs inspiration, Zap! Black & Decker.
  • Joisey: The prostitutes refer to Jeffrey as "Joisey Boy". Elizabeth sports a heavy Joisey accent, too - before and after her death.
  • Kent Brockman News: The local news program, called 8 News Alive, does a very colorful report on Elizabeth's death-by-lawnmower.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Dr. Franken and Zorro. [[spoiler: The former, for killing prostitutes and playing God, has his head grafted onto a hooker's body like he did to Elizabeth. The latter is attacked and killed by a monster made up of the merged parts of the women he used to control.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: The process of bringing Elizabeth back from the dead is a direct homage to Frankenstein.
  • A Love to Dismember: Jeffrey continues to have candlelit dinners with his fiance's head, pouring wine down her mouth and reading incredibly bad poetry to her.
  • Mad Doctor / Mad Scientist: Jeffrey is described as a "bio-electro technician," but even Elizabeth has no idea what that means. For some reason left unsaid, he has been kicked out of three medical schools. Based on the movie's content, he appears to have specializations in chemistry, pharmacology, electrical engineering, neurology, and human biology. Yet, he works for a power plant and lives with his mother.
  • Motor Mouth: Jeffrey talks almost continuously throughout the movie. This seems to be a trademark of actor James Lorinz.
  • No Indoor Voice: Elizabeth as Frankenhooker. She shouts lines spoken by the prostitutes earlier in the movie, while stiffly walking through the Red Light District, throwing people around, and grimacing at the camera, completely unaware of the world around her. She gets better.
  • Off with His Head!: Elizabeth does this to a john. Not that the john minds... Jeffrey also gets his head removed — and grafted to a hooker's body. He minds.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Elizabeth's family reacts in a very nonchalant manner to Jeffrey's eyeball-brain thing. Apparently this type of weirdness is common enough, they've gotten used to it; although Elizabeth's mother is still not particularly fond of it.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The title character is, like her namesake, a Type C.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: In order to get his body parts, Jeffrey arranges a "beauty contest" style party through Zorro, a local pimp.
  • Portmantitle: "Frankenstein"+"Hooker"
  • Red Light District: The "smorgasbord" in which Jeffrey finds the needed body parts.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The basic premise alone is insane, with a man killing prostitutes as part of a scheme to bring his dead lover back. And then you have the way he kills them, the cause of the lover's death, and so many other aspects that get more and more crazy.
  • Shout-Out: Aside from Jeffrey and Elizabeth's names, Jeffrey's eyeball-brain creature is a nod to The Brain That Wouldn't Die - A similar being was seen in posters for that movie (but only in the posters).
  • Too Dumb to Live: Elizabeth decides to give a live demonstration of how the remote controlled lawnmower Jeffrey designed worked...while standing directly in the path of said lawnmower and ignoring Jeffrey's repeated warnings to get out of the way. This predictably ends poorly for her.
  • This Is a Drill: ... and Jeffrey uses it to drill holes in his own head. It helps him think.
  • Villain Protagonist: Jeffrey is this, seeing as how he murders women so he can create a Frankenstein's monster out of their body parts.
  • What Have I Become?: Elizabeth, when her mind returns, is horrified at her own appearance. To say nothing of what happens to Jeffrey....
  • Why Am I Ticking?: Smoking Jeffrey's supercrack causes one to become very warm, and then... boom! Sparks, smoke, and body parts go flying.
  • You No Take Candle: After her resurrection, Elizabeth's babblings are all hooker-related grunted words. She gets better.