Color, 1990, 87 mins. 19 secs.
Directed by Gerald Cormier
Starring Eric Weathersbee, Jerry Cormier Jr., Keith Lack, Wilson Smith, Richard Sumner, Shawn West
Intervision (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)
The seemingly endless well of shot-on-video horror movies from the '80s and '90s continues to produce wildly idiosyncratic oddities that defy description, and the fearless folk at Intervision have pulled up another one from the depths with "Franky" and His Pals. Sort of a zero-budget spin on The Monster Squad, Mad Monster Party, and Kiss Me Quick all mashed together for a five-dollar budget, this one was barely self-distributed at the dawn of the '90s on VHS and disappeared into the ether, though SOV fans looking for something reliably nutso to pop on around Halloween will have plenty to chew on here even if it gleefully contains no nutritional value whatsoever.
In the middle of the woods, five monsters were rumored to have been buried alive in a massive cave by an avalanche years ago. Two bored construction workers out digging nearby share the tale of the unlucky beasts and a legend about some gold that might be stashed in the area, just at the same time a scientist (director Cormier, producer of Terror Circus) is working on some nonsensical procedures involving a time machine. Sure enough, Drac (Cormier Jr.), a mummy (Sumner), Wolfie the Werewolf (Smith), Humper the Hunchback (Lack), and Franky the Monster (Weathersbee) are passing the time playing poker inside the cave, only for Franky to let out a seismic fart that blows open one of the rocks holding them captive. Accompanied by a rap theme song, they shuffle into town just as the locals are preparing for a big masquerade party... so cue the parade of musical numbers, bad monster jokes, scantily clad women, and treasure hunting.
Complete with a Franky dance number, a thong bathing suit contest, and a special thanks to "Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Redding for supplying the drinks for the cast and crew," this is a pure DIY slice of madness shot around Redding (on the California-Oregon border) with a lot of enthusiasm and an episodic structure that feels an awful lot like an amateur variety show. Mostly it's a goofy lark from everyone involved that constantly feels like it's about to get a lot dirtier than it ever does; apart from some very skimpy clothing in a couple of scenes, a few minor curse words and near-sex scenes, and lots of gas jokes, it's all innocent silliness you could probably show to older kids without any big issues.
Given that the only surviving material on this appears to be the VHS created by Cormier and company, that's the source used for the Intervision DVD release that will likely be a first-time watch for just about everyone out there. It looks, well, exactly like an early '90s VHS tape, which is great for the nostalgia factor and exactly what you'd expect. English SDH subtitles are included, complete with helpful designations like "(Franky farting)." A surprisingly robust selection of extras has been assembled here, despite the fact that Cormier passed away three years ago. "I'm Big Franky" (13m29s) with Weathersbee reveals how he came up with his "Frankenstein walk" (even though it killed his back) and chats about the makeup creation, the "work in progress" script, the plan to market this in Asia, and the sheer fun of the filmmaking process. Then "It Wasn't Me" (10m24s) features Lack (who also handled FX artist duties) explains how he came up with some of the makeup appliances and had to work with some of the actors' more distinctive facial features, not to mention how he met his future (and now ex-) wife during the shoot (she's the "Egyptian babe"). There's even a little bit at the end about Dream Stalker, too. In "Have You Seen My Wolfie?" (4m39s), West explains how he ended up on the film essentially through his drama teacher while living in L.A. and got to perform a dual role during the big "Wolfman's Love Song" sequence. Finally, "The Band with No Name" (8m8s) catches up with members of the party band including songwriter-drummer Kevin McKern, songwriter-keyboardist Nancy Johnson, vocalist Chuck DiMuro, and bassist Bruce McKern going into the process of how some preexisting songs were arranged and recorded for the film along with some new "spooky" compositions. You'll also find out how they came up with that "rap" song, too. Finally you get a "Radio Beach" music video from three of the Franky band members, pulled from glorious VHS and loaded with on-the-fly coverage of the same area where Franky was shot.
Reviewed on June 25, 2020