Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Starring Charlee Danielson, Anthony Sneed
"Where's my fuckin' jimmy jig?"
Bad Biology is cult legend Frank Henenlotter's first film in 15 years. Most horror and trash film enthusiasts know him for his pioneering sex/gore epic Frankenhooker (1990), evil-brain bloodbath Brain Damage (1988) and, of course, the Basket Case series (1982-1992), a trilogy of grungy, sick-fuck flicks about Siamese twins. 60 year old Henenlotter grew up in the shadows of the Deuce, and his films have always reflected his love and admiration for grimy, 42nd St gut-spillers. Bad Biology is no exception, but it's the first one he's done without an obvious point of reference. 42nd Street is glitzy and clean now. The grindhouses are long gone. Most of the kids who will read about Bad Biology in Fangoria or on horror movie websites will likely have no idea who he is or why he's so obsessed with vaginas and penises and monster babies. Will the new generation of splatter-kids embrace this aging weirdo like we did in the 80's? Or will they just roll their eyes at the crude, stop-motion mutant penis and hold out for the next big budget slasher remake? And most importantly, will old-school sleaze-beasts like you and I dig it? Well, let's take a look at the evidence.
The first thing you may notice about Bad Biology is its distracting soundtrack, a thumping, pumping mélange of rap tracks by people like Reef the Lost Cause (who makes an appearance) and Atmosphere (featuring star Danielson). Is this an attempt on Henenlotter's part to be 'down' with the sounds of the street, ala Abel Ferrara? Maybe, but most likely it's due to the fact that hip-hop artist Rugged Man fronted the money for the project, and co-produced. Henenlotter shot a music video for the rapper, and the two found they shared a similar vision. So there's that. There's also an odd gloss to the film. Given its subject matter, the director chose to shoot Bad Biology on film, fearing it would look too pornographic on video. First-time cinematographer Nick Deeg clearly took Henenlotter's concerns seriously, because the film has a clinical, well-lit, TV movie look, quite at odds with the punk rock grime of Frank's earlier work. Otherwise, it's business as usual for Henenlotter: tits, latex monsters, stilted dialogue, and sex-gone-wrong.
Bad Biology offers up one of the most audacious opening lines ever:
"I was born with seven clitorises."
It lets you know, right from the gate, that this is going to be a very bumpy ride.
No pun intended.
We meet Jennifer (Charlee Danielson), our many-clitted heroine, a wispy blonde who haunts dingy NYC clubs at night looking for sexual prey. In the first scene, she brings home some bar-trash and fucks him with such enthusiasm that she forcefully slams his head into the floor. After she cums, she sees the pool of blood under his fractured skull. She is not upset about this. Instead of calling the police, she grabs everything in the guy's fridge and orgasms while she's scarfing down fried chicken and cole slaw. Then she sits in the bathtub and gives birth to a bloody, screaming, mutant baby. And then she splits.
We soon find out that Jennifer is some sort of mutant who requires sex on a constant basis. She also requires an internal climax, which leads to conception, a lightning-fast pregnancy, and the inevitable messy live birth of a monster, a mere two hours later. She does not know why this has happened to her - she first started menstruating at the age of 5, and it's been pretty nuts ever since - but she suspects it's God's idea. She thinks God wants to fuck her.
So she's got that going for her. She's got a day job, too. She's an edgy photographer/videographer who specializes in hip-hop videos and album covers. By day, she stages confrontational photo shoots and by night, she either finds some dude and fucks him to death, or she masturbates with scary, sparking electrical contraptions. You may, at this point, be wondering if we actually get to see the cause of her misery/ecstasy, and the answer is sorta. Around the 18 minute mark, you get a glimpse of her monster vagina - from the inside. I can only describe it as gnarly. Literally.
Jennifer is not only physically deformed, she's also mentally unstable. She explains, via narration, that much like her sexual organs, her brain processes emotions at a much higher rate then normal. This frequently leads to erratic behavior.
For example, in one scene, she meets a guy who she actually likes. It's never happened before and after they bone, she starts feeling romantic. He gets up to bail on her - he had assumed it was merely a one-night stand - and she kills him, messily, with a lamp.
Meanwhile, across town, Batz (Anthony Sneed), a guy with a giant, drug-addicted penis, tries to eat a sandwich in a deli while some kids a few tables over talk about John Holmes and his veiny 14 inch dick, which causes the peni-sensitive Batz to puke in an alley. Later on he stays up all night because his penis wants to watch porn. Then he duct tapes it down.
After spending a long night screaming at his dick, Batz is woken the next morning by a pounding at his door. Some guy shows up at and asks to use his house for a photo shoot. You can see his point - Batz lives in a bright yellow mansion. He agrees and takes his rental advance to a crack house to buy drugs. While he's there, a crazy girl - who looks remarkably like Stephanie Fondue - keeps yelling about 'Jimmy Jigs'. It is the comic highlight of the movie. It might be the highlight of the movie, period.
Anyway, Batz buys a bunch of steroids or something, and shoots them into his penis. His penis likes intravenous drugs.
Afterward, he goes home and puts his penis in some sort of milking machine, and then he starts hallucinating that the girl in the porn flick he's watching is talking to him. So, Batz is pretty fucked.
The photo shoot at Batz's place is being directed by Jennifer. It involves some rap dudes interacting with topless girls wearing vagina masks. One of the girls in the shoot is pseudo-scream queen Tina Krause (Psycho Sisters, Vampire's Seduction, etc). When she's getting dressed after it's over, she notices a creepy dude watching her from around a corner. It's Batz. It is his house, after all.
For whatever reason, Tina starts teasing and flashing him, and his penis tries to break free and attack her. Luckily it's still duct taped.
Later on, everybody cleans up and splits, but Jennifer goes back into the house to get her cell phone. When she walks in, she hears somebody arguing. She opens up a door and finds Batz wrestling with his giant dick. It looks exactly like you think it does. Jennifer vamooses, but she has clearly made an important discovery.
That night, Batz brings home a hooker (dressed, interestingly, in the same purple outfit as Frankenhooker). His monster dick literally fucks her senseless. She just lies on the floor moaning for hours. He ends up carrying her outside and leaving her on the sidewalk, still in the throes of painful orgasm. Jennifer, who's been skulking around the mansion and spying on Batz the whole time, videotapes her and takes the tape home to masturbate to. The whole scene is pretty annoying. Imagine non-stop fake orgasm sounds and hip-hop thumping mixed together for ten minutes.
I'm not sure how, but the monster penis escapes from Batz's crotch and bursts through some woman's floorboards and fucks her stupid. And then he goes to another house and does it again. These scenes are shot with the same sort of primitive stop-motion effects Henenlotter used in the early 80's for Basket Case. The penis goes through four of five girls, providing us, if nothing else, with a whole lotta nudity. At one point, he attacks this melon-breasted chick(fetish queen Jelena Jensen), and it's clearly just a dude slapping her in the tits with a modified rubber dildo. Ed Wood's got nothin' on Henenlotter, man.
After getting blasted at work for the disastrous vagina face shoot, Jennifer splits and heads over to Batz's joint. She thinks that she's finally found her mate. Unfortunately, he no longer has a dick.
Well, not really. Other stuff happens. But most of it so ridiculous that you really better just see it for yourself.
So, is Bad Biology worth the 15-year wait for Henenlotter fans? Possibly. After all, his last film was the atrocious Basket Case 3 (1992), and there's no way he could make a worse movie. Given that grading curve, it's clearly a step up. Long-time cohort Gabe Bartolos is back heading the FX team, so all the slime and goo and stop-motion hijinks you remember from Basket Case is on deck here, and even though NYC is too cleaned-up to provide much atmosphere, Henenlotter brings us to as many filthy warehouses and crack dens as he can cram in. However, unlike even his most visceral movies, Bad Biology has almost no sense of humor, and without it, we are left with a ghastly, low-budget shock show about dysfunctional assholes and mutated private parts. And that's not really what I was looking for.
But hey, it's got rap. The kids love rap. So maybe the kids will love it.
Clip: Bad Biology trailer!
Availability: Bad Biology is in limited theatrical release. A region one DVD will be available in the fall of '09.
- Ken McIntyre