• Franky And His Pals (Intervision Picture Corp.) DVD Review

    Released by: Intervision Picture Corp.
    Released on: June 26th, 2020.
    Director: Gerald Cormier
    Cast: Eric Weathersbee, Keith Lack, Shawn West, Jerry Cormier Jr., Keith Lack, Richard Sumner, Wilson Smith, Gerald Cormier
    Year: 1990
    Purchase From Severin Films

    Franky And His Pals – Movie Review:

    Gerald Cormier produced Barn Of The Naked Dead (a.k.a Terror Circus), which is a pretty rad movie. Gerald Cormier also directed 1990’s Franky And His Pals and, hand to God, I really don’t know how I feel about this. I think I’m thankful, but I reserve the option to change my mind once this buzz wears off. So what the fuck is Franky And His Pals and why have you never heard of it? We’ll get to that but before we do, know that this was self-distributed on VHS locally in French Gulch, California – the tiny town where the movie was made that was “founded by French miners in 1849 and became one of California's major gold producing areas.” That’s a nice way of saying that there isn’t much there.

    Anyway, when the movie opens, two black guys are digging a grave in a tiny cemetery. They speak with no discernable southern accents, yet use southern slang in their conversation. This might be offensive by modern standards, I really can’t tell. The elder of the two tells the new recruit that he’s heard there are monsters living in the nearby hills. And he’s right – it’s then that we meet a big Frankenstein’s monster guy named Franky (Eric Weathersbee), a vampire named Drak (Jerry Cormier Jr. – the director’s son), a mummy (Richard Sumner) with a monster that lives in his stomach, a werewolf named Wolfie (Wilson Smith) and a hunchback monster named Humper (Keith Lack). They’ve been trapped in a cave for reasons never properly explained for an indeterminate number of years… until Frankenstein blasts a fart do deadly that the previously blocked entrance to the cave is knocked open. But before they get their freedom, they find a treasure map that points to the town nearby.

    It just so happens to be Halloween and so they wander towards the nearest town – as they do, we’re treated a really long and really terrible rap song about the five monsters, and given a bit of foreshadowing (gasp… one of them is gay!). A few painful minutes later and they’ve arrived at the local community center and harassed a few ladies doing aerobics. From there, they wind up at French Gulch Hotel just in time for a Halloween party, which means no one realizes that they’re actually monsters. They wander around and walk in on various people having terrible sex, Humper gets stuck in an underground cave, Franky’s massive dong scares off a would-be sexual conquest, Drak realizes that a Bloody Mary doesn’t actually have any blood in it, The Mummy watches a man urinate and, most importantly of all, Wolfie falls in love with a man in a tutu named Clover (Shawn West).

    While all of this is going on, a mad scientist (played by the director himself, we learn in the extras) who kind of sounds like Bernie Sanders and who enjoys blondes and breasts tries to get his time machine working and those in charge of French Gulch try to figure out how to come up with a way to pay off over a million dollars in back taxes. Will Frankie’s bombastic farts play a role in how this all plays out? You’re God damn right they will. And we’ll be forced to endure a few musical numbers from not only the house band at the hotel but Wolfie as well before it’s all over.

    This movie is terrible in every possible way that terrible can be defined. Gag jokes that were never funny in the first place are repeated ad nausea. Every musical number in the film, and there are a few of them, goes on way, way, way too long. You could say that the pacing in the film is off, but more accurately you could say that the film has no pace. For the bulk of the movie, nothing really happens outside of some guys in dime store Halloween outfits wandering around opening doors and looking at girls. This results in a film both terrible and… completely charming, both wholly unwatchable and yet somehow engrossing and it’s tough to explain why.

    The acting sucks. It’s terrible. Everyone in this movie is a walking, talking cliché, and while that’s almost certainly intentional, it doesn’t redeem the film. But we like these monsters. Yeah, fine, Franky farts a lot and that would suck in real life and, yeah, fine, Humper needs to stop trying to hump everyone but they aren’t out to hurt anyone and they seem like really nice guys. The humor in the film is juvenile, relying on dick jokes, fart jokes, gay jokes, fat chick jokes, butt jokes and goofy, ham-fisted dialogue but for those of us who grew up in a less politically sensitive climate, it’ll all feel oddly familiar, even if you kind of cringe at parts of it and wish that it didn’t. The film has a completely original soundtrack thanks to a band credited as Nancy Johnson Christopher (she being the lady behind the keyboard in the house band featured in the picture).

    Oh, and be sure to watch all the way through the end credits. Not only do we get to see the five guys who played the main monsters out of makeup and grinning like goofballs for the camera but we get to see the Pepsi Cola Bottling Of Redding thanked for supplying delicious beverages for the production. In fact, both the opening and closing credits are full of wacky credits like ‘Audio Post Production Things’ and ‘Direction Giver.’ Also you’ll get to laugh when someone misspells ‘Ninja’ as ‘Nunja.’

    Franky And His Pals – DVD Review:

    Shot on tape and sourced from tape, this transfer isn’t so hot but it’s as good as things are going to get. The 1.33.1 fullframe presentation accurately reflects this no-budget pictures analogue origins. It’s soft and fuzzy but it looks fine for what it is. Colors look… okay, especially indoors during the scenes where the band plays. Outdoor scenes in the dark fair a little worse and can be kind of murky looking but it is what it is.

    The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 track on the disc can sometimes sound a bit muffled. Thankfully English subtitles are provided so that you can bask in the true glory of the film’s high concept dialogue. The music in the movie was obviously added in post and not recorded live as it sounds better than the rest of the film. Again, this is a case of doing the best with what there is to work with.

    I’m Big Franky interviews leading man Eric Weathersbee about his work on the film, where he basically admits that he was cast as Frankenstein but because he had amazing acting abilities but because he was tall. He speaks about the camaraderie enjoyed on set, working with Gerald Cormier and the rest of the cast and crew, his thoughts on the quality of the film and more. This piece runs thirteen-minutes.

    Actor and special effects guy Keith Lack is interviewed next in the ten-minute It Wasn’t Me, where he talks about playing Humper, the effects work that he did on the picture and on Dream Stalker (this connection being one that helped get the movie onto DVD as Intervision released Dream Stalker as well). He’s interviewed via Skype in front of some rad monster masks and he shares some pretty amusing stories about his experiences on the shoot and how he got to know the Cormier family.

    A third interview gets Clover himself, actor Shawn West, on camera for just under five-minutes in Have You Seen My Wolfie? In this piece he talks about auditioning for a part, getting cast pretty much instantly as Clover, his thoughts on working with the rest of the cast on the picture, being serenaded and more.

    The Band With No Name spends some time with the members of the Nancy Johnson Christopher band, - songwriter, drummer and massive beard afficionado Kevin McKern, songwrtier and keyboardist Nancy Johnson herself, bass man Bruce McKern (who also appears to love giant white beards if not quite as much as Kevin) and vocalist Chuck Dimuro. They talk about how they wound up being in the film and give a quick history of the band. There are also some really cool behind the scenes photos included in here. It's a really fun piece.

    Not enough? We get a music video for the track Radio Beach by the Nancy Johnson Christopher that pretty much sums up eighties pop culture in a wonderfully goofy five-minute package. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Franky And His Pals – The Final Word:

    Franky And His Pals impossible to defend, it’s either going to work for you in its own undeniably stupid way or you’re going to turn it off five-minutes in. Those who groove on SOV obscurities will see the appeal and fans of insanely unfunny comedy will get a kick out of this one too. The movie has its own screwy charms, but is no doubt best enjoyed while abusing a substance of your choice. Intervision Picture Corp. are to be commended for bringing this serious obscurity back into circulation, and with some extra features covering its origins as well. Truly, this is an age of miracles we live in.

    Note that this DVD is limited to only 1,000 numbered copies.