The last time “Basket Case” director Frank Henenlotter made a movie, the third entry of his trademark series, the computer graphics boom had just begun, and Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter was still fresh meat for horror fans. But apparently, sixteen years isn’t enough for a mandatory change in style. Now that Henenlotter has premiered “Bad Biology” at the Philadelphia Film Festival (where he received this year’s Phantasmagoria Award this past Friday), I’ve learned that the director holds fast to his old-school style of goofy thrills and analog FX. The acting is campy, and the FX prop – a slithering, dismembered phallus – is as Reagan-era as it is outrageous.
“Bad Biology” is more out-of-control than anything the director has done. It starts its romp from the opening, voiced-over line: “I was born with seven clits.”
These are the thoughts of Jennifer (Charlee Danielson), a open-faced, seemingly innocent chick in a bar. She prowls the scene for quick sex, but we soon learn that she’s a nympho in hyperdrive, whose multi-pronged genitalia constantly craves penile stimulation. (The fact that a sizable vibrator could do the trick is a bit a logic slip, one on which the entire story rests, but what can we say? – We’ve already bought a watermelon-sized, disembodied, killer Siamese twin from this guy.) When she gets men back to her room, she turns into a fair-skinned pack of fireworks and, quite often, a black widow: the movie’s first victim comes to a hilarious, head-slamming end.
Her quest for satisfaction is vulgar, vivid, and pretty offensive – she abandons her progeny after her reproductive organs also work in overdrive – but wouldn’t you know that it’s downright hilarious throughout. Anyone who’s ever seen a Henenlotter knows that he’s an acquired taste, but does he bring those flavors in “Bad Biology.” If the male sexual anxiety behind Henenlotter and producer R.A. Thorburn’s script isn’t enough to offend, then note that Jennifer interprets her biologic makeup as a divine one: years of burning desire has her convinced that she’s a Mary, as she wants to “f**k God,” literally. Holy rollers be warned; camp horror fans, get ready.
As in “Basket Case,” Henenlotter uses flashback midway to find all the mayhem that Jennifer’s story can yield. But when the movie shifts to another sexually complex – and distraught – youngster (Anthony Sneed), we are left a little confused at the abandonment of the main narrative thread. But it doesn’t take long to see that Jennifer wants him for her divine lay, if he can only keep hold of his wandering member. She’s searched for him long and hard, having amassed a photo collection of previous bedmates in coitus, and her sex addiction surfaces in the concepts of her professional photography. (I’m wondering: has there ever been vagina-shaped masks on topless babes before?)
Along with cartoonish blood and guts, Henenlotter fits in more T&A than the movie has a right to own. When the member goes a-crawling, it violates a series of bare babes, after it breaks through floorboards like a rat on steroids. To see that this makes Jennifer jealous, well that’s downright demented, and we’ve gotten what we’ve come for: a hoot that hollers throughout.