Nov 7, 2017

Frankenstein General Hospital (1988)

Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again (1982) has long been among my favorite horror comedies, so I just had to check out Mark Blankfield's sequel of sorts.

As in the previous film, we find Blankfield working at a hospital - but this time his secret experiments are a bit different.  He is carrying on the work of his great, great grandfather Dr. Victor Frankenstein in the basement of the hospital, and he's operating under the pseudonym Bob Frankenheimer.

At left is his colleague, Dr. Dixon (Hamilton Mitchell), at his right, the chief surgeon, Dr. Reutgar.

The dialog in the film is like Airplane!, delivered straight despite being beyond silly.  Take this conversation between Dr. Reutgar and Bob Frankenheimer...
Reutgar: You've heard what's been going on in the hospital. I suspect foul play.
Bob: Oh?
Reutgar: Yes. Dr. Saperstein has lost another patient.
Bob: Have you searched the hospital thoroughly?
Reutgar: I mean he's dead, Bob.
Bob: Saperstein is dead?!?
Reutgar: His patient is dead.
Bob: Oh.
Reutgar: That's the fifth patient Dr. Saperstein has lost this week.
Bob: Boy, he really is having a bad week.
Poor Dr. Saperstein (Lou Cutell) has to see the hospital shrink, Dr. Singleton (Kathy Shower).  She offers him some tissue, but he's already blowing his nose on his toupee.

Frankenheimer's partner in crime is Iggy (Leslie Jordan).  I consider Blankfield a comic genius - and i don't say it lightly.  I've loved his timing, delivery, and physical comedy since he was on Fridays.  Combine him with Jordan, whose no comedic slouch either, and you've got comedy gold on your hands.

Yep, that's Ben Stein as Dr. Who.  All kinds of familiar faces pop up in Frankenstein General Hospital.  At left is Nurse Verna (Katie Caple) who wears a super short, incredible mini the entire film.  Reason enough alone to check out this movie.

Katie Caple only went on to do one more movie before fading into obscurity.  A crying shame.

Unbeknownst to Nurse Verna and Dr. Who, Iggy is hiding under the kid's bed.  He's left Frankenheimer's basement laboratory to tell Bob some important news: a genius has just died - the perfect specimen for a brain!

Unfortunately, Iggy will have to retrieve the brain himself.  Bob Frankenheimer has surgery obligations....

This is actually a pretty funny scene.  A vacuum incident happens in surgery which rips the scrubs right off the physician's assistant.  This would be your average Benny Hill-esque moment, but the movie plays it one step further.  We see her walk out of surgery, encounter Dr. Frankenheimer and Dr. Dixon, and awkwardly not say a word, leaving them to wonder WTF?

I knew it!  Dr. Reutgar is a bad guy. He is bound and determined to find out what secret experiment Dr. Frankenheimer is working on.  And Dr. Singleton (Kathy Shower) is in cahoots!  The plot thickens.

I know, Kathy Shower sounds like a porn name.  It's not.  Shower was a regular on Santa Barbara and appeared in innumerable straight to video fare worthy of Skinamax.

So, Iggy brings back the head, and Dr. Frankenheimer's secret experiment is finally complete.  He's created his monster.

I should mention that whenever they're in his basement laboratory, it's filmed in black and white.

It's obvious to the viewer that this monster is no genius, but Bob has yet to catch on.  Meanwhile, Dr. Saperstein and Dr. Dixon are starting to put the pieces together as to what shady business Dr. Frankenheimer has been up to.

At the same time, Dr. Singleton is using her womanly wiles to get Dr. Frankenheimer to fess up.  Dr. Reutgar and Nurse Verna catch them in the act - the horror!

There's a bunch of running gags in this film - too many to mention.  One that may become important is that  Dr. Reutgar and Dr.Singleton are into the kinky stuff.  So, you'll have a scene with Singleton innocently on a typewriter, while Reutgar is in the background in bondage.... it's funny. You just had to be there.

I do feel it is incumbent upon me to let you know that the amazing Nurse Verna does provide some gratuitous nudity.  She throws herself randomly at Dr. Frankenheimer in the elevator and rips her top off.

Dr. Reutgar finally finds out what's been going on.  He's not impressed either.  When he threatens action, Iggy presents him with blackmail: photographs of he and Dr. Singleton doing their kinky business.  They agree to keep both matters hush-hush.

This scene exemplifies a reason I love 1970s-80s comedies: gratuitous nudity can happen at any moment.  Dr. Frankenheimer is just walking to Dr. Reutgar's office, when he encounters the secretary, Elizabeth (Bunky Jones) who's been learning physical therapy, and wants him to perform some on her.

Now, we've seen Elizabeth in several scenes, giving no indication that this would be forthcoming.  Such is the magic of 80s gratuitous nudity.  Moving on... The Monster's on the Loose!

Since Iggy stole the brain from a teenager, he's stolen some rad clothing and a boom box.  The monster begins reeking havoc upon General Hospital.  First he has an encounter with a little girl reminiscent of the Universal Frankenstein film (thankfully, she just ends up in a swimming pool, alive).

I'll spare you the play-by-play of the climactic scene.  In a nutshell, the monster is found, a battle is waged between Dr. Reutgar and Dr. Frankenheimer.  Meanwhile, the monster and Dr. Singleton really hit it off - let's just say "he pleases her".  During this encounter he chugs some random potions in the laboratory, which make him smart.

Catch all that?

When the police arrive, Dr. Reutgar demands that they arrest Frankenheimer and subdue the monster.  But the monster is smart now, defends himself intelligently, and Dr. Singleton is there for support.

In the end, Reutgar is taken away by the police, and as the credits roll, we learn through polaroids that Dr. Singleton and the monster have embarked on a happy life together.  THE END

(Applause.)  I highly enjoyed this movie.  While I wouldn't say it's quite as good as Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again, it is without question, a horror comedy worth watching.  I suppose the obvious comparison is how does it stack up against Young Frankenstein.  Suffice it to say, they are very different and each succeeds in its own way.  It sounds like a non-answer, but it's the truth.