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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Creature > Satire > Slasher > Mad Scientist > Chemistry > Experiments > Frankenhooker (1990/Synapse Blu-ray)/Colony Of The Dark (1995/Apprehensive DVD)

Frankenhooker (1990/Synapse Blu-ray)/Colony Of The Dark (1995/Apprehensive DVD)


Picture: B+/D     Sound: B+/C     Extras: B+/D     Film: B-/C



While my favorite of Frank Henenlotter's cinematic output is without question Brain Damage, there will always be a place in my heart for Frankenhooker.  I was still very young when I first caught sight of it in the pages of Robert Jameson's book on Frankenstein films.  I'd been given the book for either Christmas or a birthday, and while some family members lamented the fact that I'd ever be given a book with something called “Frankenhooker” in it, I was thrilled.  Sad to report, I was never able to lay my hands on a VHS copy of the movie.  It wasn't until years later that I'd actually get to see it when Unearthed Films released their special edition DVD - long after I'd gotten to see his other work.


The basic plot of the film isn't all that different from that of the schlock classic, The Brain That Wouldn't Die.  In this updated version, James Lorinz stars as Jeffrey Franken - an inventor/mad doctor whose fiancée Elizabeth is killed in a freak accident with a lawnmower.  The distraught husband-to-be gathers up as many useful pieces of her that he can in hopes of bringing her back from the dead.  From there he's on a hunt for the perfect body to use, and who'd ever miss a hooker?


While Unearthed Films had laid some of the groundwork with their 2006 DVD, Synapse has now picked up the licensing and brought this Blu-ray out to many happy fans.  It carries over all of the special features created for the Unearthed release, so there's not much reason to hold on to your old copy if you decide to upgrade.  The commentary track with Henenlotter and makeup artist Gabe Bartalos is a fun listen, and you also get interviews with stars Patty Mullen and Jennifer Delora that are pretty entertaining.


The picture and sound quality has been upped considerably.  We now get the luxury of seeing this classic in a full 1080p 1.78:1 digital High Definition widescreen presentation (a slight change from the older disc, which was presented 1.85:1) and with lossless DTS-HD sound; not only in the original 2.0 stereo mix, but a newly created 5.1 surround mix as well.


While I'd always assumed Frankenhooker would be a mind blowing experience, to this day I'm still left a little bit underwhelmed by it.  I must stress that I don't feel it's a bad movie... just one that I've still never been able to get into the way I did with his first few directorial efforts.  I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out and trying it on for size... to quote the famous Bill Murray... “If you only see one movie this year, it should be Frankenhooker.”


Off to the side a little bit, we also have a Henenlotter inspired film that is variously called Colony Of The Dark, Colony Mutation, or just plain old Colony, depending on when you saw it or what source you're getting your information from.  The box doesn't even pin down the year it was made.  It states that the film was made in 2010, but various sources indicate that the movie has been floating around in some form since at least 1995.


In the film, Jim's been cheating on his wife, and when his wife catches him, he gets a glassful of an experimental serum tossed in his face.  The effects of the liquid cause his body to mutate - his limbs fall off and take on a life of their own, being the “colony” of the title.  He takes to killing girls in order to feed his body parts, and in the end his mistress has to stop him - taking him down limb by limb.


It's a fun idea, but ends up poorly executed in the film.  Body horror like this has been done before and done better by the likes of David Cronenberg and others, though this does have a certain low budget charm to it.  Unfortunately, there's just not enough happening to sustain the length of a feature film and the low budget effects I'm typically a fan of are amateurish and often too nondescript.  The filmmakers have tried to spice the look up a little bit by inserting a few digital creature shots, but these don't mesh with the rest of the film and look very dated.


Part of the problem is the terrible picture quality that makes it hard to tell who or what is onscreen at any given time, leaving you to strain your eyes trying to make things out.  Some of the picture frame has been sacrificed as well; the film is presented in anamorphic widescreen, but was originally shot on Super 8, so the top and bottom have been cropped, but at least it doesn't hurt the framing much.


As a fan of not just this type of movie, but shot on Super 8 films in general, it pains me to say that I can't recommend this disc very highly.  The presentation is just lacking in too many respects for it to be enjoyable... just because it's a small format film doesn't mean that it has to look bad.  Hopefully Apprehensive Films will someday go back and do the movie some justice by fixing what problems there are if an opportunity for a better transfer come along.



-   David Milchick


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