All posts tagged Frankenhooker

Louise Lasser’s Thanksgiving Terror!

Published November 27, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

Who knew? Mary Hartman is the Queen of Thanksgiving Terror!

Veteran comic actress Louise Lasser may be best known for her iconic run on the late night television soap opera spoof Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, but she has also brought her unique set of skills to such terror gems as (charming 1973 television effort) Isn’t It Shocking?, (the classic) Frankenhooker, and David DeCoteau’s Wolves of Wall Street. 1987’s fairly obscure slasher Blood Rage found her supplying generous helpings of holiday terror, though.

Portraying Maddy, the breathlessly passionate mother of twin boys, Lasser resonates with plenty of grounded, hysterical gravitas here. After one of the boys is sent away, as a child, for a brutal murder, Maddy devotes her life to the raising of her other son.

One Thanksgiving Day, though, Maddy’s world is chopped and sliced apart. Her bad seed escapes from the mental institution and, maintaining that the other brother is responsible for the previous carnage, heads towards home to clear his name. Soon, the turkey is not the only thing being carved and effects artist Ed French (Creepshow 2, Tales from the Darkside) is soon having a ball delivering the chunky goods as characters are chopped in half and hands are disengaged from flailing bodies.louise3

Obviously produced on the cheap, but fast paced and gore stained, Blood Rage, ultimately, rises above the ordinary simply due to Lasser’s presence. She is the film’s emotionally rampaging heart, delivering a justified sense of denial and shimmering fragility. Her Maddy provides the reality in extremely outrageous and gruesomely unreal circumstances.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Frank Henenlotter: Sentimental Creatures and the Joy of Annie Ross!

Published March 8, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

Whenever Big Gay Horror Fan needs something cerebral to eat, he naturally heads to the grittiest shower in the local transient hotel. Of course, this is a pastime that the character of Brian in Frank Henenlotter’s gonzo exploitation epic Brain Damage adheres to, as well. But stepping out of the moist and deadly spray for a moment, here the equally epic, truly fascinating Henenlotter continues his exclusive talk with BGHF, offering up fascinating tidbits about working on Brain Damage, the Basket Case series and shooting his latest project in New Orleans.

BGHF: Seeing as this is Big Gay Horror Fan, Frank, we just have to talk about Joseph Gonzalez. He’s got this great character actor face and he made quite a physical impression in Brain Damage!

joseph gonzalezFrank: He wasn’t an actor. We found him in a gym. In Brain Damage, I needed a scene where Brian needs some food in the flophouse. Where is he gonna met someone? I thought it would be creepy if he went into the shower and there was a guy in the shower. I thought, it’s not gonna work if it is just some guy in the shower. But if it’s a gigantic muscle man, it just makes it more picturesque and absurd. And then once we started playing with this idea, we thought let’s put this little homoerotic feel, this vibe to it. Even though that’s not what it was about, but there was something about it that was kind of like – oh god, two guys together in the shower, why not, you know? So, we went to look for a guy. One of the girls working on the production went into a gym and saw him and asked him if he wanted to be in the film. Sure! I said to him you’re going to be doing nudity. You’ll be naked on the set, but we’re not going to show the front. He said, “I don’t care. Sure!” He was just delightful. So, I thought he’s perfect for Zorro, the pimp in Frankenhooker! I think he got into SAG as a result of that. Then I lost touch with him. I wish I knew where he was because he was another guy that I just had a great time working with. I don’t know why he didn’t do any more movies. Physically, he is exactly what you need in a film. Yes, his acting, at least in my films, was somewhat limited. But, still I thought he pulled off what he needed to for Frankenhooker to work. Frankenhooker didn’t need a master thespian. It just needed a guy who looked like a pimp. I thought he was great in it. Especially with that giant Z medallion (laughs) – a very enjoyable guy to work with. He was very quiet, too. He was nothing like the character.

BGHF: On the other end of the experience spectrum was jazz legend, Annie Ross. An accomplished stage performer, she appeared in a variety films including Superman III and Pump Up the Volume. What was her take on being a part of the Basket Case legacy?annie ross

Frank: She always claimed to love it, that’s why she jumped on doing Part 3. I saw her recently and the thing she said to me was, “Why don’t we do Part 4?” She still performs. I guess she’s in her 80’s now, early 80’s, and she performs every Tuesday night at a club in Manhattan. Every time I go, I’ll bring a lot of people there and she is just marvelous! She’s slower, but the voice is still there. She is an absolute delight, she is a delight to listen to singing and she was a delight to work with. She was genuinely a pro. She had made a lot of films, a TV show in England. So, I did almost no directing with her. We talked briefly about the character. She brought all the nuances – she brought all that herself. All I used to do was tell her where I wanted the shot to be and where I thought the mark should be. Usually, she was good on the first take – consistently so. A brilliant actress to work with! In fact in the scene in Basket Case 2 where we put that evangelist outfit on her – she loved that, the one where she does that speech where she works the freaks up into a frenzy. She told me that she had been rehearsing that scene for weeks. She wanted to show me what it was going to be. I said don’t waste your time on that. Let’s just film it! I want to film it in a long take and I want you to hit your own marks. We’ll just be there and get it. But it means we’re probably going to do a lot of takes, unlike what we were usually doing. It was complicated. I wanted the camera moving around the freaks. The first couple of takes were aborted because the camera bumped into a freak or something – you know, there are always those kinds of problems. But that was basically her. Her performance, there, is her! I had nothing to do with it. I just made the camera move. She did it all. Perfect! Then on Basket Case 3 there was a funny moment where she came up to me. Basket Case 3 was basically a disaster. I was re-writing the script as we were going along. Not what you’re supposed to be doing! I wrote this scene where the freaks had to walk from one room to another. And I needed dialogue or otherwise it would have just been a shot of freaks walking. I needed her to say something. So, I wrote this thing and she was someone you could throw dialogue at and she would instantly memorize it. I wrote this scene and for the first time ever she came up to me and said, “Frank, I don’t think I can say this!” I burst out laughing. I said, “Oh, my god, Annie! You starred in Basket Case 2. You can say anything!” She goes, “No, no, no. It’s this word – revel.” The line was “And you, too, shall revel in his beauty!” She was talking about her deformed son. She said, “I’ve never said the word revel. I don’t know how to say it.” So, I paused for a minute and said, “Say it like Vincent Price would say it.” She paused for a minute and went, “Oh! I’ve got it!” (laughs) I’m not even sure that I knew what I meant! Sure enough, when you see the scene, she hits that ‘revel’ like Vincent Price. Now, that’s a pro!

BGHF: I love her! So, do you have one filming experience that stands out then – or do they all blur?

basketcaseFrank: They all blur. The thing is making movies is hard. It’s not a game – especially on no money. You’re on no money and you are desperately trying to make something watchable. I start with the lowest – let’s see if we can get focus and color and — (laughs) — and then we’ll work up and see if it’s any good. Every one of them has a handful of great moments and a handful of miserable moments. That’s all I can say. Every one of them is like that. Brain Damage was an awful lot of fun to make despite the problems. It was my second film and I really loved filming in 35 millimeter. That was so exciting for me. Even though I didn’t know how to load the camera, you know what I mean? It never occurred to me! “Does anyone here know how to load a 35?!?’ It was better than the 16 I shot Basket Case with because I was always putting it down and then would forget where I left it! So, embarrassingly, once a day I would be asking, “Has anyone seen the camera?!” And everybody’s eyes would roll! I loved filming Bad Biology. I had a great time with that. That was the first one after 15 years. It all came back. It was just so comfortable and I just remember really loving that one! I just shot one – not a horror film – that was half shot in Williamsburg and half shot in New Orleans. That was a trip. That’s half the fun of it. We did know what the hell was going to happen down there, in New Orleans. But that was the fun of it. Let’s go down there and find it. We got lucky. It was just cool. It’s a true story about street art. We needed to find an abandoned building that we could put art on and then also remove it. Where do you find that? How do you do that one? We were looking for real estate and seeing if we could maybe buy a place. I needed to see the houses that were next to it, the neighborhood – to see if it would make the story work. So, we said let’s just go down there and see if we can figure it out. We go down there and met somebody who immediately told us how we could find all the property owners. That was a great start. Finding the property owners was another problem. So we were looking for a specific type of house. We’re driving around. We were in the 7th Ward. Right on the corner, we see this incredible 2 story building that must have once been a grocery store or something like that. The door was bright green and it was not only abandoned but totally falling apart. It looked like if you pushed it, you could tip it over. It was in such a bad state of disrepair, it looked art directed. Just incredible! So, I was a little concerned because it didn’t match the building we had in the script. So, if we commit to this, we have a slightly different plot now. But, it seemed like the one to do. We’re looking at it, thinking how the hell do we find out who owns this thing? Well, as we were standing there looking at it, everyone down south there is so friendly, and this guy, somewhere in his 60’s, is coming down the street. He is holding in his hand the largest onion I have ever seen. I don’t know why. As he comes to us, he greets us. We said to him, “Hi. You wouldn’t by chance know who the owner of this building is?” “Yeah, my friend Sophia,” he goes. We said we’d like to rent the place for two weeks and film here. We’ll give her 1000 bucks. He goes, “Oh my god, she needs the money! Oh, my god!” So, that evening, we got permission, gave her half the money – it was like – huh? Can it be that easy? Well, it really was down there. All the neighbors knew we had gotten permission legitimately when we came down there a month later and they couldn’t have been more helpful. We ended up putting a lot of them in the film. It was scary. they all said the same thing. Be off the street by sunset because the gang’s come out at night there – at least in that area. It was weird. Once the sky was dark, you could stand there on the street and look in any direction and you would not see a soul moving. Everybody was behind closed doors. It looked like it was evacuated, you know what I mean?henenscifi

BGHF: Chilling! Do you have a title for the film yet?

Frank: I don’t know yet. I wanna keep the details about it quiet. It’s not a horror film, so there’s no mystery about it. But I still have months of work on it. But I like the fact that I was out of my comfort zone. There was no blood, no killing. It’s funny, but it’s not a comedy. No monsters! Nothing like that! So, it threw me at first – especially on the first day. I was like – this scene looks normal. Oh, yeah. It’s supposed to, you know? But that’s what attracted me to it – let’s try something a little more normal for once, you know what I mean?

BGHF: (laughing) So something, maybe even a little bit sentimental, perhaps?

Frank: I don’t think there is a single sentimental shot in any of the films I’ve made. (laughs) And if there is, I should be beaten for it! There is a moment in this new one that has a sense of sentimentality to it and I am trying to figure out how to downplay it, as we speak!

You can keep it vicously unsentimental, as well, by hanging with Frank the weekend of March 8th in Chicago at screenings of the Basket Case trilogy and Brain Damage!/events/121460304700898;!/events/569975819685686!

Big Gay Horror Fan, meanwhile, is always comforting his inner freak at too!

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Frank Henenlotter: Surviving the Horrors of Annie and Andy Milligan!

Published March 5, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

frank henenlotter
Wake up? When it comes to the perverse nightmare landscapes of director-writer Frank Henenlotter – who would want to? With his initial films, the Basket Case series, Brain Damage and Frankenhooker, Henenlotter took body horror and comedy to extreme heights. On the eve of a series of appearances in Chicago (!/events/121460304700898;!/events/569975819685686) during the week of March 9th, 2013, Henenlotter agreed to talk to a grateful Big Gay Horror Fan about life (and death) in the theater, the films of Andy Milligan and the cinema that inspired him.

BGHF: Hey, Frank! Your love of cinema has been well documented. But, did any of the experimental theater (IE: Theatre of the Ridiculous; The Living Theater) that was thriving in New York in the 60’s and 70’s play into your artistic sensibility?

annielogoFrank: I saw some but not enough. Watching theater is like watching everything in a master shot. I had a girlfriend who worked at the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts at the time and she got us tickets to all these Broadway shows. For a period of a few years I saw every Broadway show that was opening. And I think I hated them all. I was just bored with it. The one that I hated the most – I was in agony – this one show – this awful fucking musical! I couldn’t stand it. I wanted to leave at intermission. I’m not sure if I did or if I was told, ‘ah – let’s stay’, but I remember saying to her afterwards, this show will die the moment it opens. It hasn’t got a chance. Of course, that show was Annie!

BGHF: Hysterical!

Frank: I am such a movie buff that I just devoured the films. I started cutting high school when I was 15 to take a train to Manhattan and I would go to 42nd Street and I would just go gorge. And then when I finally moved into Manhattan in 72, 73 somewhere in there, I just spent basically six nights a week at 42nd Street or some theater in Times Square. That’s where everything was. That was supplemented with – at the time NY had dozens and dozens of repertory houses. So, if there was something that looked good on television, I wouldn’t watch it. I would wait and see it on 35 millimeter in the theatre. In the late 70’s you could still see 35 prints of Citizen Kane and Kiss Me Deadly, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Performance – there was just a steady diet of stuff back then. It just stayed around forever and you could watch it over and over again. It was very, very, very exciting. For instance when Night of the Living Dead was first released in 68, it disappeared virtually in a week or two. It played drive-in’s. It didn’t have a cult following – few people saw it. I did see it. But, it disappeared. Before it was revived for midnight showings where it became famous, one little theatre in NY said hey, we’ve got two movies that nobody went to see last year – Night of the Living Dead and The Fearless Vampire Killers. How’s that for a double bill? Night_of_the_Living_Dead_affiche

BGHF: Wow!

Frank: Amazing! There was always something to see – and lots of rare stuff that I’ve never seen since. A German vampire film called Jonathon where the vampire walks around looking like Hitler. I mean – Huh, really?? Can I see that again?! So there was enough – Tenderness of the Wolves for a week for a theater that only lasted about three weeks!

BGHF: Ulli Lommel’s one fine moment, I guess.

Frank: I agree – but one hell of a fine moment. So, there was always something. When you’re young you really don’t think about history or the future. But I wish I had kept just a simple diary of what I saw and when. Because it is getting harder and harder to stop the memories from blurring together, you know. But – if nothing else existed except for 42nd St – I was in heaven. And of course on Long Island where I grew up, all the neighborhood theaters were playing the latest AIP film. I didn’t go to 42nd to see The Trip or Count Yorga or any of that. I went to my local neighborhood movie theater – that’s where it was! One week it’s a Doris Day film, the next week it’s a Roger Corman/Vincent Price movie. I mean, it was fabulous! And the drive-in’s on Long Island carried the slack with all the Western B films out there. It was marvelous. I never thought that it would all disappear. It just seemed–

BGHF: Everlasting?

Frank: How could it go away? I remember standing there in front of a theatre in East Rockaway, Long Island. I remember standing there. I don’t even remember what I went to see. It was Saturday night and I was waiting for a friend and it seemed like from out of nowhere – there is people coming, and coming and coming! Crossing the street this way and entering that way. No line, but enough showing up on a Saturday night so that the theater was full. How could that ever disappear? It was just amazing. But, anyway – it did. And fuck them all! Their loss!

BGHF: Did you have any contact with infamous NY film director Andy Milligan during that period of time?

Andy Milligan - trucker?!

Andy Milligan – trucker?!

Frank: I met him once. Beverly Bonner who is in the Basket Case films, she was in one of his plays. It was when he had the theatre in Hell’s Kitchen near Times Square. And it wasn’t a theatre, really – It was just these weird empty rooms or something. I was very self-conscious. She introduced me to him – and I honest to god, hated everything of his that I had seen. So, I just pretended I had never seen any of his films. I’m not a good liar. So, I just met him. The play itself was just on a little – I don’t even know if it was a stage. It was just a little raised platform, slightly higher than where we were sitting. We were sitting on folding chairs. There was no curtain or anything like that. And typical of a Milligan play – I don’t even remember the name of it now – but typical of a play it was just yap, yap, yap, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. It was not horror. Just talk, talk, talk, talk ad infinitum! I couldn’t stand it. Then finally we were told that everyone should leave the theatre – which they called it a theatre – the room, actually, and take a smoking break in the hallway while they get ready for act two. Well, I’m not a smoker. I never have been and this hallway has no ventilation, so it was impossible to breath there. So, I went back into the room. And as I started going back into the room, I caught a private moment of Andy dressing the set. And I swear, I’m not joking. I’m not trying to be funny. But what he was doing was flinging doilies onto a sofa that was part of the set. And he was standing in the middle of the room and he was a big, very hefty man. He looked like a truck driver, that kind of thing, a long shore man. And very delicately he was taking and flinging a doily. And – he didn’t like the way it landed. Picked it up, walked back with it and one, two, three – flung it again. Didn’t like the way it landed. Went back and one, two, three – flung it again. He accepted that one. And I couldn’t see the difference between how it landed between the first time and the third time. Then he started on another doily. Honestly, he didn’t know I was in there watching. I actually felt like I intruded on kind of a private moment. I just very quietly backed out and went back out into the hallway. To me that speaks volumes about him.

BGHF: Yeah.

Frank: Although, I’m not sure exactly what it says. But, that was it. And afterwards, I lied and said, “Oh, wonderful show!” What could I do, what could i do? Beverly was even in a film he did that did not get released. It was called – JungleJungle Heat, maybe. Jungle Bust? Jungle Bust! I think that was the title. I think it was called Jungle Bust. What it was, it was an unfinished film that somebody else had started – so Milligan shot wraparounds and inserts of people in a theater watching the movie and calling out Rocky Horror style comments at the screen. It was dreadful. I don’t think it ever got a release. I sat there and I see two directors listed and I said “Oh, no!” So, that’s it! That’s my moment with greatness. I’ll tell you something else, too, about him. You know seeing his films, theatrically, is a lot different from seeing them on VHS tapes and DVD. For one thing – I remember vividly Torture Dungeon – whatever process they did to make the negative or the prints – ah, you know, I believe it was shot in 16. And the splices were put together with glue and run through a printer. So every three frames, it went out of focus. It was shot going into the splice and then coming out of the splice. So every time there was a continuity change in that movie, a splice, it went out of focus. It was killing my eyes! I saw that film twice, theatrically, all right? And I can’t catch that on the DVD’s – so they were more hellish —- also the grain hurt your eyes more because the glitches were the size of cannonballs. So, I think they were a lot more painful when you saw them, theatrically, than it is now when you see them on DVD. I don’t know why those shots aren’t as glaring — maybe I’m insane – (laughs) but I’m not. torturedungeonnn

BGHF: And there are always those films that you love on the screen, but wonder what happened when you watch them at home.

Frank: Yeah. Well, these are the reverse. I was kind of bowled over by a double feature of Blood Thirsty Butchers and Torture Dungeon. I just couldn’t believe that these were films — I mean, somebody said to me, what’s the plot? And I said “Fabric!” – because that seems to be what is in every shot. Fabric is hanging all over these rooms. It was just draped all over the room. Right in the middle of the room there is fabric! I don’t know…but that was the beauty back then. I saw Torture Dungeon on 42nd Street. But before that I had seen it at a regular neighborhood movie theater on Long Island. Same with The Ghastly Ones! But, my point is they didn’t just play grind houses. They played theaters and they played local neighborhood movie theaters. Torture Dungeon and Blood Thirsty Butchers played at a rundown theater, but it certainly wasn’t a grind house. It was a neighborhood theater! I think that’s lost now. I think everyone assumes these films only played grind houses. If that was the case, none of them would have ever made money! You know what I mean?

BGHF: Of course, all those films inspired you!

Frank: Absolutely, they all did. The reason I love exploitation in general, and most horror films are exploitation, is the fact that one minute you can be watching excessive violence, which is what the hallmark of a good exploitation film is. Its nastier blood than it should be. And then the next minute a totally gratuitous t- and-a scene and then something comedy. The elements didn’t have to behave properly or even gel. They just had to be there. I love that. I loved it! I love that appetite. You go see a Blacksploitation film and a horror film! You see a T-and-A film and a horror film. It all blurred together in one film! It’s all part of the same giant, crazy ass film! You know what I mean? I especially loved seeing them on 42nd Street because the crowds were insane. The audiences there were basically transients. If it was good weather, there would be a few people in the theater. If it was raining or snowing, the theatres would be jammed. So, for them it wasn’t so much that that they loved movies but that they wanted to get out of the snow! Nevertheless, they really loved the film! There is a vulgarity that they appreciated. The dumber the film was, the more fun it was. They could cheer more in that. They had their own rules. If there were close-ups of money, the audience would cheer. If there was a close-up of a gun, the audience would cheer. (laughs) You see what I mean? They didn’t want art. They wanted meat and potatoes. They didn’t want gourmet food. They didn’t want any fucking salads -just give me the meat, you know? It was a very exciting way to watch films with them. It was something I tried to deliver in mine. Cut out the fancy stuff and just go right into the gore and the sex and that kind of shit!

BGHF: Perfect!

Check back, in a couple days, for Part Two of this exclusive interview in which Henenlotter talks Basket Case , Brain Damage and about filming his latest in New Orleans!

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Overview: Terror in the Aisles – Frankenhooker

Published December 15, 2012 by biggayhorrorfan


On Friday, September 14th, 2012, Chicago’s always exciting Terror in the Aisles welcomed Patty Mullen from Frankenhooker in for an exclusive showing of that iconic piece of cult entertainment.


Things began with a sense of popping action as Mullen took a handful of lucky winners on a soda date. Here, she discusses the in’s and out’s of the horror of outdoor chores with The Lawn Blower Massacre director Anthony Cooney and others.


Above, Mullen’s talented manager, James Howard, shows off the bust he created in Mullen’s honor.


Here, Howard helps Mullen sign a purple bra for the show’s auction.


Even a certain blonde someone, very sure in his sexualty, will begin to doubt himself standing next to the gorgeous, personable Mullen.


As an extra bit of show excitement, Mullen taught a handful of devoted fans the Frankenhooker walk.

Be sure to keep up with future Terror in the Aisles events at

Big Gay Horror Fan, meanwhile, is always available at!/BigGayHorrorFan.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!