TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: FRANKENHOOKER (1990)

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FRANKENHOOKER (1990)

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Horror/comedy was released in 1990, but is very 80s. It’s the story of New Jersey resident Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz), who is a failed med student that now works for the power company. When his self-conscious girlfriend Elizabeth (Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen) is killed in a freak lawnmower accident, Jeffrey plans to put both his medical knowledge and high voltage know-how to use, to bring her back to life. On a quest for body parts, a series of unfortunate events finds Jeffrey decimating the entire stable of NYC pimp Zorro (Joseph Gonzalez) and using the body parts to build Elizabeth the perfect body. Jeffrey’s work, however, is far from perfect, as she is a patchwork of various limbs whose mind retains the memories of all the previous owners of those parts. His twitchy creation soon escapes and returns to NYC to start plying the world’s oldest profession…with hilariously lethal results.

Flick is produced by James (Exterminator, Shakedown) Glickenhaus and directed by Frank Henenlotter (the cult classic Basket Case) from his script with original Fangoria editor Bob Martin. It’s a sleazy grind-house style comedy that may be an acquired taste, but is a lot of fun, if it’s up your 42nd Street alley. There are cheesy gore FX, lots of pretty ladies and boobs and of course, plenty of homages to Frankenstein and other classic horror tales. It’s low budget and that adds to the charm and the NYC locations are delightfully sleazy. The film wouldn’t work as well as it does, though, if it weren’t for a hilarious performances by star Patty Mullen. She is simply a hoot as the twitchy Frankenhooker, who has no idea that her professional skills are now quite dangerous. James Lorinz lays it on a little thick as Jeffrey, but in a flick like this, over-the-top is certainly not out of place. The film’s not perfect. Not every joke is funny, some of the supporting cast’s acting is pretty bad and quite a few of the FX are a little too cheesy for their own good. The whole movie has an amateur vibe to it, despite being Henenlotter’s fourth film. Otherwise, it’s an amusing midnight movie and the type they don’t make anymore in these overly sensitive times.

A cult classic in itself, Frankenhooker can be fun if you like 42nd Street grind-house style flicks, which this is, through and through. It has it’s flaws. Henenlotter’s films always kept a very amateur style to them, which the filmmaker never grew out of, or chose not to. On the plus side, Mullen steals the film with a hilarious, yet sometimes poignant, portrayal as Jeffrey’s girlfriend/creation, who just wants to turn some tricks. A fun midnight movie for those who appreciate sleazy, cheesy amusements. Also stars Louise Lasser as Jeffrey’s mom and 80s-90s porn star Heather Hunter as one of Zorro’s girls, Chartreuse.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) twitchy Frankenhookers.

 

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: BLOOD RAGE (1987)

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BLOOD RAGE (1987)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

This is an odd and lesser known 80s slasher that tells the story of twin brothers Todd and Terry. It starts in 1974 where the young brothers are at a drive-in with their mother (Louise Lasser) and her boyfriend. Terry and Todd sneak away only to have Terry senselessly murder a patron and then blame it on the catatonic Todd. Todd is institutionalized and only begins to remember that awful night ten years later. Now an adult, Todd (Mark Soper) tells his doctor that Terry (also Mark Soper) is actually the killer and when no one seems to believe him, he escapes on Thanksgiving night to confront his brother. When informed of Todd’s escape, Terry embarks on a bloody killing spree knowing his sibling will be blamed once more and locked away forever.

Written by Bruce Rubin and directed by John Grissmer, this is a strange slasher. We are never given a reason for the murder at the drive-in, nor why Terry is so quick to frame Todd. Once Todd escapes a decade later, the deranged Terry just picks up where he left off and starts to murder not only his own friends, but anyone who might believe Todd. The film does make some good use of the fact that the two are identical twins and they are played by the same actor. The gimmick would have worked better, though, if director Grissmer gave the film a bit more intensity and life. It’s got some atmosphere, but the film is directed very by-the-numbers, is very dreary in tone and the cast, including vet Lasser, are very wooden for the most part…though Soper does do a good job making a noticeable difference in the two brother’s personalities and seems to be having fun with the role. There is some graphic gore and bloodshed in the flick and it has a very bleak ending and one must wonder what the film would had been like, guided by someone more willing to really go for broke with it’s premise. It’s a mediocre film that could have been more of a stand-out in the 80s slasher canon, if only it cranked things up a bit and wasn’t played out quite as somberly.

Blood Rage is a moderately entertaining 80s horror. It has a decent body count, with some very good gore, but never really comes alive with by-the-numbers direction and it’s very somber mood. Actor Mark Soper seems to be having fun playing the brothers, but lead Lasser acts as if she’d rather be somewhere else. There is some fun with hero and villain both being twins, though the script and director could have made even more use of the premise and had a lot more fun with it. A decent enough watch, but could have used a director who really could take the story and milk it for all it’s was worth. Flick was made in 1983, but took four years to finally find distribution. Watch for Ted Raimi in a brief cameo role in the drive-in sequence.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 serrated machetes.

blood rage rating

 

 

 

 

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