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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.
--"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 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.
- 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.
- Bloodless Carnage: Considering there's a scene with exploding prostitutes, it's amazingly gore-free. There are a lot of sparks and smoke, however.
- Book Safe: Jeffrey keeps a video tape of the news report on Elizabeth's death stashed away in a hollowed-out copy of Gray's Anatomy.
- Disposable Sex Worker: Since the ladies of the night are selling their parts anyway...why not?
- Fan Service / 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.
- Fantastic Drug: Supercrack!
- Franken X: Right in the title.
- 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.
- Hey, It's That Lady!: Jeffrey's mother is played by The Blue Raja's mother
- That's Mary Hartman! Mary Hartman!
- Hollywood Pudgy: Elizabeth is henpecked by her mother for eating too much and being overweight. She's actually a thin woman wearing several layers of clothing during the opening scene.
- 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," for some reason.
- 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's fate.
- 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.
- Off with His Head: Elizabeth does this to a john. Not that the john minds...
- Oh, No, Not Again: Elizabeth's family reacts in a very non-chalant 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.
- Red Light District: The "smorgasbord" in which Jeffrey finds the needed body parts.
- Refuge in Audacity: Oh, yes.
- Resurrected Romance
- This Is a Drill: ... and Jeffrey uses it to drill holes in his own head. It helps him think.
- 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 Gotta Have Blue Hair: When returned from the dead, Elizabeth has purple hair (and purple nipples), possibly the result of the special estrogen-based formula being purple. This is hilariously lampshaded repeatedly by Jeffrey as he frantically searches for her.