Archive for April, 2009

The Most Fun You'll Have Reading About Trash Cinema

The Most Fun You'll Have Reading About Trash Cinema

Just a real quick heads-up for those who don’t already have it—the collected edition of the best of Robin Bougie’s extraordinarily bizarre “Cinema Sewer” magazine came out a few months back from FAB Press, and I have to say, even with all the absolutely terrific books on exploitation films that have come out in recent years, such as the late, great Bill Landis’ and Michelle Clifford’s superb “Sleazoid Express,” Stephen Thrower’s huge and indispensable “Nightmare USA,” and others, Mr, Bougie’s book is probably the most flat0out fun you’ll have reading about trash films.

The book collects the very best of the first several issues of the magazine of the same name, and adds a nice selection of new and updated material, as well. Mr. Bougie is a talented cartoonist, and the “half-book/half-comic” feel to the whole proceedings makes for a fast-paced, fun, and informative read. In addition, Bougie covers some truly bizarre stuff that you’re not likely to find written up in any other zine (“Let My Puppets Come,” for instance) and presents everything in a witty, accessible style.

I can’t sing the praises of this book highly enough, I had an absolute blast reading it. It’s available directly from FAB Press on their website (fabpress.com, of course), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the like, or directly from Mr. Bougie himself at cinemasewer.com, where you can find individual back issues and other goodies for sale, as well.

Bougie has been absolutely instrumental in exposing Z-grade masterpiece “Things” to  a wider audience, so what more does he need to do to prove his bona fides than that, I ask you? So stick your head into the Cinema Swer—sure, you may come out smelling foul, but you’ll have a great time getting messy!

Dinner's almost ready

Dinner's almost ready

Lots of movies are bad.  Some are bad intentionally (think Troma).  Some are bad unintentionally (think “Ishtar”).  Some are so bad they’re good (think Ed Wood or Larry Buchanan).  And some, well—some are so bad—so mind-rendingly, unfathomably awful—-that they by pass the “so bad they’re good” signpost and in true “do not pass go, do not collect $200” fashion, they come full circle and end up at awfulness all over again. Such a film, my friends, is Wayne Berwick’s 1978 celluloid monstrosity “Microwave Massacre.”

This is such a brutally incompetent attempt at a horror spoof that it almost accidentally ends up becoming a send-up of that which it’s trying to send up—a spoof on horror spoofs, if you will. As such, it’s an almost singularly bizarre viewing experience and if I said you had to see it to believe it, that still wouldn’t be going far enough, because the truth is that you won’t believe what you’re seeing even as you’re seeing it! The only—and I do mean only—movie I can even possibly compare it to in terms of sheer gray-matter-melting “what the hell is this and why?”-ness is the 1989 canuxploitation cult semi-favorite “Things” (which I really need to get around to doing a proper write-up on sometime soon here).  Not that the two films are all that similar in and of themselves, but they both achieve, purely by dint of  sheer ineptitude, similar levels of IQ destruction in the viewer’s mind—and both have a strange way of sitting on your DVD shelf, daring you to watch them again—and again—and again—until it’s too late, and you’ve succumbed to the bizarre and wretched new reality they both create — one in which you, the viewer, find yourself literally needing to see them every so often for reasons you cannot, and don’t even want to, fathom.

This, my friends, is the opening shot in “Microwave Massacre”—

That's one way to grab the audience's attention

That's one way to grab the audience's attention

It’s also the best shot in “Microwave Massacre. ” Okay, that’s not quite true—the best shot comes shortly thereafter, courtesy of the same lady, but that’s beside the point, which is—oh, hell, I have no point here—do you see the effect this film has?

At any rate, the plot is essentially this : Donald (Jackie Vernon) has a problem. All his buddies at the contruction site he works at have better lunches than him (and you thought you had troubles!). While they get subs,  he gets whole crabs— shell, claws, and all— stuck between two pieces of bread. Donald’s wife May (Claire Ginsberg), you see, fancies herself something of an amateur Julia Child, only she’s nothing of the sort. She’s also a ball-busting shrew who has worked Donald’s nerves down to frayed, snapped, fried tendrils. As such, Donald dreads his loveless, sexless home life and takes solace in his lunch breaks and his evenings at the local watering hole.

Still, at some point a guy’s gotta go home, and when Donald finally can no longer delay the inevitable and stumbles through the door, he always finds May there, waiting for him at the dinner table, with a hideous pseudo-gourmet meal she’s prepared in her newfangled, big-as-the-whole-kitchen (this being 1978 and all) microwave. May is very proud of her microwave and what comes out of it, but Donald invariably finds her “cordon blue cookery,” as he calls it, completely unappetizing. Folks, something’s gotta give here.

One night he finally snaps and kills her (bet you didn’t see that coming). He was drunk when he did it, though, and can’t remember it. Still, when he finds her in the microwave (yes, all of her—and yes, this frigging microwave really is that big) the next morning, he figures he’d better conceal the evidence, so he cuts up her body, wraps the pieces in aluminum foil, and puts her in their extra refrigerator out in the garage. There’s just one problem. Donald soon can’t remember which wrapped-up bits are his wife and which are food—it’s not a problem for long, though, because soon enough he accidentally starts chomping on one of her hands , decides he likes the taste, and keeps going. In short order he’s bringing microwaved May-meat to work and sharing it with his buddies on their lunch breaks. They all like it, and suddenly he’s the most popular guy on the job (what they don’t know won’t hurt them, I suppose).  His wife’s corpse doesn’t provide and endless supply of food, though, and soon Donald must resort to killing prostitutes and the like in order to keep up the meat supply for himself and his friends. Along the way, various attempts at cinematic hijinks ensue, and about eighty minutes later, the microwave goes “ding!” on this movie and it’s all done.

If it sounds like I’m giving short shrift to the “plot” here, rest assured, I’m not. It’s paper-thin. As in, cheap-toilet paper thin. And the same can be said for the “talent” on display here. Jackie Vernon isn’t funny. He never was funny. Neither are the jokes. They couldn’t have even looked funny on paper. The supporting cast, for the most part,  seem to be doing this for beer money, much like Vernon himself, who goes from henpecked husband to cannibalistic serial killer without ever once changing —or even adopting—a facial expression, and delivers every single line as if we were reading from the script. The gore effects, what few there are,  don’t even rise to “that’s so bad it’s kinda cool” level. The direction is flat, lifeless, and utterly without anything resembling even the most basic ideas of “flair.” You’ll honestly wonder if every scene was done in one take.  The film was apparently shot for about $70,000-$80,000, and 20 grand of that went to Vernon. I couldn’t tell you where the rest went—it doesn’t seem to be on display in the finished product.

Director Wayne Berwick had an interesting pedigree—he’s the son of exploitation veteran Irv Berwick, whose career spanned a good three decades or so and included such varied titles as “The Monster Of Piedras Blancas” and “Malibu High.” I guess he thought he’d give it a go at following in the old man’s footsteps, but this and the 1986 straight-to-video “The Naked Monster” were his only turns in the director’s chair. In fact, this movie never even got picked up for a theatrical run and sat on the shelves until its first video release in 1982.

According to an interview with Berwick in Stephen Thrower’s “Nightmare USA,” this film was intended to play for the “stoner crowd,” which just goes to show you how poorly conceived the whole enterprise was from the outset. “I’ve got it—let’s make a movie for the stoners starring a 60-something, washed-up, no-talent comedian who wasn’t even cool in their parents’ days.” Oooooo-kay then—

Anthem Pictures' "Microwave Massacre" DVD

Anthem Pictures' "Microwave Massacre" DVD

An outfit that I’ve never heard of called Anthem Pictures released this flick on DVD a couple of years ago. It’s a bare-bones release that looks like a direct-from- VHS transfer and features no extras whatsoever. Somehow that seems appropriate.

 To sum things up, then—if you watch “Microwave Massacre,” I must warn you that you’ll wish you could turn the clock back to the time in your life before you saw it once it’s over. You’ll wish you had never known such a thing could exist. This film will make you pray to whatever deity you used to  believe in before you you started watching it that your brain would just melt and start oozing out your ears because you’ll swear it’s turning to mush inside your head  and you just want the pain to be over with. You’ll long for the life you used to have before you’d been exposed to it. And then you’ll want to watch it again.

20192pa

Anybody else besides me miss the days when any reasonably successful — and reasonably cheap — movie genre birthed scores of  Italian knock-offs?  Yes, whether it was westerns, crime flicks, zombie movies, or Hitckcockian-style thrillers, there was always an Italian who figured he could do it quicker, cheaper, and—most importantly—bloodier. The runaway success of Mel Gibson’s “The Road Warrior” and John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York” were no exception, and soon there was a mini-deluge of Italian-made post-apocalyptic sci-fi ultra-macho exploitation fare playing grindhouse theaters and drive-ins from coast to coast. While the best-remembered of these are Enzo G. Castellari’s two entries in the field, the brilliantly absurd “1990 : Bronx Warriors” and the even more OTT “The New Barbarians,”  for my money the funnest, weirdest, and most jaw-droppingly insane of the bunch is veteran exploitation director Sergio (“Mountain Of The Cannibal God”) Martino’s 1983 trashterpiece “2019 : After The Fall Of New York.”

Set in—oh, to hell with it, you can read the title — our story centers on the tough-as-nails Parsifal (Michael Sopkiw), who is sent into New York to retrieve the last fertile woman on the face of the Earth. The human race, you see, has been rendered sterile due to a nuclear attack from the dastardly EURAC organization, a world government of sorts that encompasses  all of Europe, Africa, and Asia and was at war with the Pan-American confederacy, a rival superstate that I assume consisted of North and South America. The Euracs “won” the war by nuking our hemisphere and are now occupying it, as victors of a conflict tend to do.

Unbeknownst to the Euracs, however, the Pan-American confederacy have reconstituted as a sort of underground government-in-exile and are planning on staging a comeback—just not here. They’ve got a rocket ship loaded and ready to blast off for Alpha Centauri, they just need the one fertile female still alive to get the human race up and running again on its new home. For his trouble, Parsifal has been promised a place on the rocket and, presumably, a crack at the lady in question he gets there.

Parsifal is assigned a couple of assistants in his quest in the form of a guy named Bronx, who lost his family in the Eurac attack, and the mysterious, quiet, ultra-tough Ratchet. Along the way, they pick up a few stragglers, as well—the beautiful Giada, to whom Parsifal has taken a shine (his best line to her has to be “If love meant anything in this world, you’d be the one I loved”), a dwarf named Shorty (there’s creativity for you), and the mutant leader of a band of ape-men (the always-great George Eastman). Their journey through the remains of New York takes them primarily through one sewer after another, encountering a tribe of rat-eaters, Shorty’s band of midgets, and the aforementioned ape-dudes, as well as one nasty force of Eurac soldiers after another, each with an increasingly bizarre array of pseudo-futuristic weapons at their disposal. Oh, and after they find the girl (who is never named—oh, and sorry to give away that big plot point—and she’s in suspended animation, to boot), they make their escape in an armored-up early 80s Oldsmobile (or Buick, or whatever) station wagon. The Euracs fire everything they’ve got at them and seldom score a direct hit, while ape-boy manages to lop of four of their heads in one go just by chucking his cutlass out the window (of what could well be a Cutlass station wagon). Who needs numbers when you’ve got such a clear aim advantage?

The special effects for this film are so mind-numbingly stupid they’ve got to be seen to be believed, especially the low-rent obvious model shot of a post-nuke New York that they linger on in detail in the opening credits. And the music score? Man, synth-cheese doesn’t get any better than this! Suffice to say you’ll know within moments why composer Maurizio De Angelis went under the pseudonymous credit of “Oliver Onions.”

Oh, and somebody does get a go at our sleeping beauty fertility goddess—and it’s not Parsifal. Suffice to say I’d feel unclean just mentioning who does the “honors,” so I won’t.

DVD From Media Blasters

DVD From Media Blasters

The good folks at Media Blasters have seen fit to preserve this gem for posterity on DVD, and it features a nice, clean anamorphic widescreen transfer, a 5.1 surround remix, trailers and promo art, and interviews with Sergio Martino and actors George Eastman and Hal Yamnouchi—all in Italian. It’s recently been made available as part of their bargain “Post-Apocalyptic Collection” Triple Feature Box Set along with the two previously-mentioned Castellari classics, making this set a definite must-own item. Get some cheap beer and pizza and kick back and watch them all — just be prepared to have your IQ drop a few points in the process!

Hollywood's Best Offering Of 2009?

Hollywood's Best Offering Of 2009?

Here at TFG your humble host doesn’t venture into contemporary mainstream Hollywood studio fare too often, but once in awhile they manage to get something so right that one can’t help but take notice. Such is the case with “State Of Play,” the new film from director Kevin (“The Last King Of Scotland”) MacDonald based on Paul Abbott’s highly-regarded BBC miniseries of the same name.

As a fan of the original, I regarded this new “Americanized” version with the requisite amount of trepidation one would expect, but walked away from the film not only pleasantly surprised, but downright enthusiastic. While it’s true that the only thing British about this version is Helen Mirren, the film nonetheless retains the essential character of its source material and shows that an adaptation can remain faithful to its roots without becoming a soulless husk of overly-literal fealty a la Zack Synder’s “Watchmen.”

Russell Crowe stars as Cal McAffrey, a grizzled veteran reporter for the fictional Washington Globe newspaper who has literally seen and heard it all before a thousand times over, yet conveys the sense that, while certainly a cynic, he’s just too damn busy —and devoted to his craft—to become as bitter as he’s perhaps got reason to be. Crowe gets to the meat of what makes this guy tick from the word go and delivers a finely nuanced and refreshingly understated performance. Ben Affleck is his old college roommate who’s gone and gotten himself elected to Congress after a stint in the army during the first Gulf War and retains some sense, so it seems, of honor and duty to country, but when a young staffer with whom he’s been having an affair either commits suicide or is murdered, his squeaky-clean image comes crashing down and his struggle to spin events to his ultimate advantage is one of the cornerstones of the film. Affleck doesn’t do much beyond play a cardboard cut-out in a suit, but then that’s all he’s ever done, and in this film that’s really all that’s required of him.

Cal must walk a tightrope between covering the story and remaining true to his friend, and the underlying tension between doing what’s right as a journalist and what’s right as a human being is his central character dilemma—it also doesn’t help matters much that Cal is in love with his buddy’s wife (played by Robin Wright Penn), has an old-school hardnosed editor breathing down his neck(the aforementioned Mirren) while simultaneously putting hers on the line for him with the paper’s unseen new Murdoch-esque owners, and is saddled with shepherding along a young assistant working on the story who comes from the blogosphere and represents the new wave of instantaneous, poorly-researched “journalism” that’s fast taking over from Cal’s paper-and-ink dinosaur.

As the story plays out, we come to see that Affleck’s congressman is the pointman in a series of Capitol Hill investigations into a Blackwater-type private paramilitary corporation, and that all may not be what it seems with his deceased young paramour. It’s a heady mix of intrigue, scandal, and greed that  your viewer really can’t say too much more about without spilling the beans, suffice to say that just when you think you’ve got the thing figured out, new twists arise to leave you freshly bewildered all over again, and even devotees of the original, who know how it’s all going to end, will find themselves enraptured by the terse, economic way in which director MacDonald contracts six hours of material down to just over two without missing a beat and without selling short the richly-textured layers of plots and subplots that gained Abbott’s TV version such near-universal accolades. Besides, with some new issues brought into the fold such as the examination of the role of private mercenaries—err, “contractors”—in America’s military operations and the rise of emerging media at the expense of the old, there are plenty of intricacies here for audiences both old and new to consider.

The end result is a classic jourmalistic thriller in the style of “All The President’s Men,” one where even if you know the outcome already—and in fairness most of the audience won’t—getting there is such a such an enjoyable experience that you won’t want to miss the ride.

Volume 1

Volume 1

Your friendly neighborhood TFG is hard-pressed to think of a better series of DVDs for marathon-style viewing than Synapse Films’ superb trailer collection, “42nd Street Forever.” I don’t know who had the simple-yet-brilliant idea to package up a bunch of old exploitation flick trailers into one full-length DVD over at Synapse, but my hat—and yes, I am really wearing one—is off to them.

I think, although I could be wrong, that many of these are “public domain” trailers, while others required various rights issues to be cleared in order to be included, but again, to whoever is behind all that legwork, my hat is tipped in your direction once more. A lot of the promos seem to be from films from the Crown International vault, so I’m thinking maybe one big deal was brokered to include a bunch of them with whoever holds the C.I. rights these days. In any case, plenty of other studios and distros are well-represented, as well, and the wide variety of clips on display is well and truly staggering. Every exploitation genre is included in the mix, from blaxploitation to motorcycle flicks to horror to nudie cuties to martial arts to crime drama to teen sex comedies to sci-fi to hard-boiled revenge thrillers to—well, you get the idea. There’s even a few forgotten big-budget flops thrown in, as well.

I’m thinking well over half, at least, of the films promo’d have never seen any sort of legit DVD release, and many never even made it to VHS! So for every staple of the grindhouse era that everyone’s seen like “Alligator” or “Ms. 45,” there are five or six examples of films that seasoned exploitation veterans have been holding their breath hoping to see released since —well, since the advent of the DVD format itself.

Synapse are up to four volumes in this collection so far and I well and truly hope they never stop. The picture and sound quality vary from trailer to trailer, as would be expected, but on the whole most of them look pretty damn good and most fit well in the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation format.

Here are just a few highlights of some of the previews included in each volume to whet your appetite”

Volume One – “The Undertaker And His Pals,” “The Italian Stallion,” “The 3 Dimensions Of Greta,” “Secret Africa,” “Star Crash,” “Superfuzz,” “Matango, “Destroy All Monsters.”

Volume 2

Volume 2

In the appropriately titled Volume 2, “The Deuce,” —

“Dragstrip Riot,” “Sugar Hill,” “Rabid,” “The Babysitter,” “Van Nuys Blvd.,” “Kenner,” “Rolling Thunder,” “The Woman Eater.”

Volume 3 - "Exploitation Explosion"

Volume 3 - "Exploitation Explosion"

Volume 3 -” Exploitation Explosion” —

“Enter The Ninja,” “Blood Beach,” “Gorp,” “King Frat,” “The Life And Times Of Xaviera Hollander,” “Candy Stripe Nurses,” “Guyana : Cult Of The Damned,” “High Ballin’.”

Volume 4 - "Cooled By Refrigeration"

Volume 4 - "Cooled By Refrigeration"

Volume 4 – “Cooled By Refrigeration” —

“Simon, King Of The Witches,” “The Klansman,” “Best Friends,” “Humongous,” “The Legend Of Boggy Creek,” “Americathon,” “Bonnie’s Kids,” “New Year’s Evil.”

Volumes three and four, it should be noted, also contain absolutely must-hear commentary tracks featuring AVManiacs head honcho Edwin Samuelson (who acts as informal emcee and also seems to be in charge of trailer selection), Fangoria managing editor Michael Gingold, and film historian/freelance scribe Chris Poggiali. These guys keep things really lively by giving the basics in terms of production details, quick histories, little-heard anecdotes, etc., for most every film promo’d on the discs, and it’s an absolute blast to watch these two volumes twice in a row, once with the standard sound, next up with the commentary. These three are veritable walking film encyclopedias , but never once do they slide into being pedantic or dull.

My sincere hope is that any and every reader of this blog who hasn’t given this series a spin in their DVD player will do so, and and that many of the great unheralded—and unreleased— films included in this mind-bendingly terrific trailer collection will see a proper DVD release in the future. Some of the flicks from earlier volumes already have, and some others are on the way in the not-too-distant future, so it would be nice if to think that this series is raising awareness of some of these titles to the point where some of the cult DVD distributors decide it’s worth it to give more of them a shot.

Keep up the great work on this series, Synapse, I’m looking forward to the next volume already!

Promo Poster For Dire Wit Films' "Isle Of The Damned"

Promo Poster For Dire Wit Films' "Isle Of The Damned"

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not at all a fan of Troma-style “instant cult classics,” if you will, and prefer films that actually earn their “cult” status without the aid of a fully-laid-out blueprint, but I must admit that “Isle Of The Damned” the second feature from director Mark Colgrove and Dire Wit Films, is a refeshingly bizarre serving of intentional cinematic sewage that spoofs the excesses of the Italian cannibal film subgenre while not losing completely the sense of genuine unease that the best of these flicks, like Deodato’s “Cannibal Holocaust,” instill in their viewers. In other words, “Isle Of The Damned” does make you laugh and also makes you feel ashamed for doing so.

This is thanks in large part to a truly disturbing subplot involving Billy, the young teenage ward (played by a guy in his late 20s/early 30s, naturally) of lead character “Jack Steele” about which the less I reveal the better— suffice it to say that Billy’s travails are the source of much uneasy laughter during the course of the film, and while the typical cheesiness of fake moustaches, overtly lousy dubbing, over-the-top cheap gore effects and the like are easy enough to crack fun at without feeling guilty, laughing at the struggles of “poor little Billy” will give you the same feeling as watching the animal slaughter in “Cannibal Holocaust”—you don’t really want to see it, but you can’t turn away. In that sense, then, “Isle Of The Damned” succeeds because it not only mocks but also captures the spirit of the Italian cannibal subgenre, since it’s just as cringeworthy, albeit in a completely different way.

Sure, much of the humor is overly obvious (the supposed “director” of this “lost classic” is “Antonello Giallo,” for instance, and the film’s promo poster blares that it was “Banned In 492 Countries,”) but there is plenty of unexpected and more ambiguous ” humor” peppered throughout in addition to blatant absurdities like a “jungle locations” that look like upstate New York or southern rural  New Jersey and a huge mansion located on a primitive, “uncivilized” island.

Does the entire film still have the overall subtlelty of a hammer blow to the skull? Of course, but that’s part of its—and I use this term loosely—charm. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this film to everyone, but if you think that the “instant cult classic” genre has nothing to offer, I’d humbly suggest that you give “Isle Of The Damned,” warts and all, a chance. Shot for something like $20,000, this film delivers the warped and twisted goods and leaves you feeling guilty for having so much fun. Who can ask for more than that?

"Frankenhooker" movie poster

"Frankenhooker" movie poster

We’ll conclude our little look back at the madcap career of semi-legendary director Frank Henenlotter with his 1990 trash masterpiece, “Frankenhooker.” I won’t beat around the bush, this is my favorite of Henenlotter’s films, and is a bona fide cult classic completely deserving of its reputation.  Hysterically funny and just-as-hysterically gruesome, “Frankenhooker” packs more punch than any multimillion-dollar Hollywood blockbuster and delivers the gore-soaked goods on a budget that directors like Zack Snyder and George Lucas probably blow on lunch.

Once again filmed in the environs of New Jersey and, most notably, New York’s former scuzzy underside in and around Times Square (and yes, there are scenes set in a sleazy 42nd Street flophouse, in case you were wondering), “Frankenhooker” is the story of aspiring mad scientist and med-school reject Jeffrey (played by James Lorinz of “Street Trash”), who builds his future father-in-law an automatic lawnmower as a birthday gift, only to have the half-assed gizmo shred his fiancee, Elizabeth (former Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen) to pieces when it goes haywire at said future father-in-law’s birthday party. Jeffrey isn’t one to meekly accept tragedy when science can fix things, though, and he absconds with her decapitated head and concocts a truly warped plan to bring the love of his life back from the grave.

On a “shopping trip” to 42nd street in an attempt to find the perfect body to attach Elizabeth’s now-cryogenically-frozen head to, Jeffrey decides his best course of action is to get as many working girls as possible assembled at one time in order to select the perfect unwitting donor for his scheme.  He hires “lead hooker” Honey (former Playboy Playmate Charlotte Helmkamp) to get a bevy of her fellow hookers together so he can literally “play doctor” with all of them, but he hits upon a problem—after taking copious measurements of all the girls, he can’t find just one perfect “specimen” to stick his former fiancee’s head on. Fortunately for Jeffrey, he doesn’t need to pick just one, as the ladies of the evening stumble upon the batch of “super crack” he has cooked up as a little side experiment and soon are getting higher than heck on Jeffrey’s killer (literally) rock. The result? The picture below says it all, I think—

There's no high like a "super crack" high!

There's no high like a "super crack" high!

That’s right, the hookers literally explode all over the room, leaving Jeffrey no end of body parts from which to select as he stitches together a new “home” for Elizabeth’s head.  Soon, with the aid of a makeshift operating theater in his mother’s garage and convenient lightning storm, Jeffrey has brought his lady-love back, with her head attached to a body assembled from exploded prostitute-parts—she’s not the same, though—she has purple hair (and nipples), shambles around like a heavy-footed beast, and says things like “Lookin’ for some action?,” “Want a date?,” and “Got any money?” Yes, homemade surgery combined with the wildly unpredictable forces of electricity have brought Elizabeth back from the grave, and turned her into—Frankenhooker!

With a wildly outlandish premise, a truly fantastic comedic performance from Ms. Mullen in the title role, strong supporting performances (especially from Ms. Helmkamp—who knew so many former centerfold models could actually act?), wonderful “old-school” effects, authentically sleazy New York locations, and a tongue-rammed-tightly-into-cheek overall tone, “Frankenhooker” is an absolute gem of a flick, as no less authorities than Bill Murray and Joe Bob Briggs have attested to.

Unearthed Films' "Frankenhooker" DVD

Unearthed Films' "Frankenhooker" DVD

Finally released on DVD by Unearthed Films in 2005 in a package crammed with great extras, “Frankenhooker” is an absolutely essential addition to any B-film junkie’s video library. Besides a terrifically clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, the DVD includes a terrifically insightful commentary from Henenlotter and makeup/effects man Gabe Bartalos, an extensive interview with star Patty Mullen, a great set of production still photos, a featurette on the movie’s make up effects, the original theatrical trailer, and lots more goodies to keep the demented “Frankenhooker” fans out there happy.

This movie has aged especially well given the “clean-up job” Rudy Giuliani did to 42nd Street, and so unwittingly provides a slice of nostalgia for a bygone era on top of all its other sick attributes. A true one-of-a-kind movie watching experience, “Frankenhooker” marks the apex of Frank Henenlotter’s uniquely twisted filmic sensibility  and will leave you laughing out loud all the way through while reaching for the bark bag at the same time. Not to be missed under any circumstances!