Director – Frank Henenlotter, Screenplay – Frank Henenlotter & R.A. ‘The Rugged Man’ Thorburn, Producer – R.A. ‘The Rugged Man’ Thorburn, Photography – Nicholas Deeg, Music – Josh Glazer & Prince Paul, Visual Effects Supervisor – Al Magliochetti, Stop-Motion Animation – Jeremiah Dickey, Makeup Effects – Gabe Bartalos, Production Design – Francois Pinky. Production Company – A R.A. ‘The Rugged Man’ Thorburn Production.
Charlee Danielson (Jennifer), Anthony Sneed (Batz), Remedy (Location Manager), J-Zone (Dealer), Tina Krause (Herself), Vicky Wiese (Hooker), Bjorn Milz (Perfect Urban Gentleman), Mark Wilson (Pool Player), R.A. The Rugged Man (Ex-Boyfiend), Eleonore Hendricks (Crackwhore), James Glickenhaus (Magazine Editor), Connie Renda (Publicist), Vinnie Paz (Himself), Reef the Lost Cause (Himself)
In New York City, the photographer Jennifer is a genetic abnormality who has seven clitorises, possibly more. She picks up men for random sex, photographing them as she kills them in the midst of the act. Immediately after, she has paroxysms of orgasm and gives birth to mutated creatures, which she abandons. At the same time, the reclusive Batz has difficulties with his penis and cannot achieve orgasm by regular means. His penis has gained a life of its own and talks to him even as he tries to use drugs to control it. Batz and Jennifer are destined to meet when her crew hires his house to conduct a shoot for a rap group.
Frank Henenlotter became a cult director after first appearing with the gungily fascinating Basket Case (1982) about a man and his murderous Siamese twin, which gained a word of mouth cult reputation. He followed this up with the extraordinary Brain Damage (1987), his finest film, about a man who has a brain parasite that has turned him into a drug addict. Henenlotter then went on to more commercial sequels Basket Case 2 (1990) and Basket Case 3 (1991), along with the overly comic Frankenhooker (1990).
Henenlotter then fell silent for eighteen years before making a return to genre material here with Bad Biology. Aside from a couple of documentaries on exploitation subjects with Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (2010) and That’s Sexploitation! (2013), Henenlotter has disappeared as a genre voice and only made the non-genre documentaries Chasing Banksy (2015) and Boiled Angels: The Trial of Mike Diana (2018).
Henenlotter made Bad Biology in collaboration with R.A. ‘The Rugged Man’ Thorburn, better known as a white rapper. Thorburn produces the film and co-writes with Henenlotter. A number of Thorburn’s fellow musicians make appearances in the film during the video shoot scene. Lead actress Charlee Danielson is also a singer and has appeared on several of Thorburn’s records. (Thorburn also briefly appears as her ex-boyfriend who engages in rough sex with her in the flashback scenes).
Frank Henenlotter’s films fall into two types – on one hand, there are works like Basket Case and Brain Damage that offer extraordinary fusions of perverse imagery and metaphors, and on the other hand works like the Basket Case sequels and Frankenhooker that are in a much more cartoonish mood and show Henenlotter planting tongue in cheek. Happily to say, Bad Biology emerges as one of the former.
The wildness of Henenlotter’s images is evident from about the opening lines where Charlee Danielson announces in voiceover that “I have seven clits.” We then see her hooking up with a guy she meets in a bar (Mark Wilson), having sex, killing him and then going into multiple orgasms and giving birth to a mutant baby, which she abandons in a bathtub immediately after birth. A couple of scenes later she does the same thing all over again with another guy she meets during a junkyard shoot. This comes amid lines like [in regard to Charlee showing someone the photos of her lovers]; “I can’t tell if they are having the greatest orgasms of their lives or being killed,” to which she replies “What’s the difference?”
Charlee Danielson gives a great and fearless performance – she spends a substantial amount of the film in a state of undress, for one. It is a genuine shame that she never acted in anything else again. One of her finest moments is the scene where she kills a guy and in rapid succession keeps flipping between bashing his head in to anguished relationship-speak “I’m sorry … It’s my fault” and then back to bashing his head in again.
The film then moves to the introduction of Anthony Sneed. We see him wrapping his crotch up in masking tape as something is wildly beating beneath his underwear, followed by him begging supplies off a drug dealer, even having conversations with his dick. In the most bizarrely amusing scene, we see him returning home, ingesting the drugs and watching a porno film as he uses some room-filling homemade mechanical contraption that begins jerking and pumping as he sticks his dick into it. All before the scene where he has sex with a hooker and she ends up in convulsive orgasms that won’t stop even after he drags her body out into the street. The capper on the scene is when Charlee Danielson bursts in and we finally see his dick as something about two feet long waggling about.
[PLOT SPOILERS] The climax of the film involves Anthony Sneed’s penis gaining a life of its own, burrowing through the walls of neighbouring apartments and molesting women. All before Charlee Danielson bursts in and find the penis as it lies exhausted and dying. In one of the film’s more entertainingly ridiculous scenes, she is pleading that she can take it and tries to give it CPR, before she lets it enter her and then gives birth to a baby penis.
It is only during the climactic scenes that the film falters somewhat. The story arc it sets up is for the two characters to meet and connect up in some bizarre way but instead Henenlotter opts for a real downer of an ending. Also the metaphors the film operates are less sharp and brilliant than they were in Brain Damage. Here we have people with bizarre mutant genitalia, although quite what point the film is building to is not clear.