Bad Biology [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - Severin Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (5th June 2024).
The Film

Photographer Jen (singer Charlee Danielson) may be "the world's only real life nymphomaniac." Not "simply the girl with the crazy pussy," Jen was born with seven clitorises "each one constantly craving attention." After a childhood of awkwardness resulting from the effects of "permanent sexual arousal syndrome," Jen has embraced her "mutation" not as a "genetic mistake, but […] an evolutionary leap forward. A female of the future who feeds on orgasms the way you people devour burgers and fries," as a gift from God for himself ("God wants to fuck me"). The rapidly-gestating, deformed spawn are just "fake unfinished freak babies" that she leaves to exposure. She tries not to kill her partners… but it happens, sometimes in self-dense but sometimes she just goes nuts. She has channeled these encounters into an abstract series of photographs she has titled "Fuck Face," the motion-blur, flash overexposure, grain, and multiple exposures making actual death throes indistinguishable from la petite mort. When her location manager (rapper Remedy) secures the use of a mansion that belonged to cult leader Father Divine for a photo shoot featuring rappers Vinnie Paz and Reef the Lost Cauze in the company of vagina-faced models, Jen becomes intrigued by the mansion's reclusive owner Batz (performance artist Anthony Sneed). After she spies on him giving a prostitute a fatal amount of multiple orgasms, Jen believes that Batz may be ideally- (or divinely) suited to satisfy her. What she does not realize is that, as the result of a mishap during the cutting of his umbilical cord, Batz has been treating his reattached but malfunctioning penis with a reckless regimen of exotic and experimental steroids to achieve arousal and it has become sentient, self-autonomous, and insatiable. If Jen and Batz were to "come together," would either of them survive it?

"This is not clever, this is not intelligent, this is not artistic. This is crude, gutter-level filth," exclaims a publicist (Connie Renda) observing Jen's sexually-reductive photo shoot in which the scantily-clad window-dressing models are wearing vagina masks, Frank Henenlotter's return to directing after a near two-decade hiatus following the back-to-back production of Basket Case 2 and Basket Case 3: The Progeny with Bad Biology may indeed be filth but it is clever, artistic, and "stimulating." With a script that seems to riff on ideas ranging from Deep Throat involving biologized nymphomania as well as the French Pussy Talk and its flaccid American equivalent Chatterbox! – with regard to sentient sexual organs that push their owners in destructive if still liberating directions – Bad Biology feels as much like an outgrowth of Henenlotter's earlier pre-body horror hits Basket Case and Brain Damage as a departure from them by splitting the focus between its male and female protagonists and their different ways of physically and psychologically dealing with their "addictions." Danielson's scenes may be flashier, but Sneed gives the better performance; however, even the former's flat performance may be intentionally disaffected. The 35mm photography is slicker, giving the film and its gritty New York junkyards, crack dens, alleys, and sparsely-furnished houses the look and feel of one of the better Troma productions or pickups of more than a decade before, while the sequence in which Batz's penis goes off on its own in search of prey as a stop motion creation by Gabe Bartalos (Skinned Deep) is too laughable to bring in any questions of taste. The "climax" is underwhelming as much for what is shown as to the little screen time devoted to the dramatic interaction between Jen and Batz once they meet but it still feels like a substantial effort. During his directing haitus and in the years since Bad Biology, Henenlotter has continued to appear in extras on horror and sexploitation films (which was presumably how he made the acquaintance of rapper and producer/co-writer R.A. The Rugged Man who had recorded a commentary track for Don Jones' Schoolgirls in Chains the same year and whose father makes an appearance early on in the film). East coast DTV softcore scream queens Tina Krause (Nikos the Impaler) and Rachael Robbins (Terror Firmer) makes appearances along with several New York-area indie musicians, filmmaker James Glickenhaus (The Exterminator) who produced the Basket Case sequels, and an archival "cameo" by Uschi Digard (Supervixens) appropriately via a Something Weird Video cassette of a porn loop.


After touring various genre film festivals in 2008, Bad Biology actually made its DVD debut in the U.K. before its wider U.S. DVD release from Media Blasters' Shriek Show line in 2010 followed by a Blu-ray upgrade a year after that from the same HD master. Severin Film's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC Blu-ray – which debuted stateside in 2023 as in a website exclusive limited edition with hardcover book as part of their summer sale followed by a 4K UltraHD/Blu-ray and Blu-ray standard editions – comes to the U.K. via Severin Films likewise in separate 4K UltraHD/Blu-ray and Blu-ray editions. The older master looked a tad more like video than film, largely lacking film grain and possessing an overall warmer bias that gave the film some warmth but also diluted the skin tones, particularly of fair Danielson. The new master has a more neutral color palette, but it is a massive improvement with deeper blacks, film grain, and an overall superior rendition of textures that not only convey the grit of the urban settings but also give "life" to the anguished and pleasured "Fuck Face" photos – which look like actual photographs rather than photocopies – and greatly enhance the "textures" of latex-rendered mutant genetalia and some miniature set mock-ups. On the commentary track, Henenlotter mentioned that one of the actors refused to do full frontal nudity "unless" he could have an erection so he darkened the shot in post-production. The shot in this new master is still shadowed but no longer seems "censored."


As with the earlier DVDs and Blu-rays, audio options include 5.1 and 2.0 stereo options, here in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio boasting clear dialogue – viewers in apartments might want to turn the volume down during the sex scenes including the multi-orgasmic assaults and death scenes late in the film – and some lively moments when the soundtrack by local rap artists asserts itself. The sound design includes some wonderfully-exaggerated foley from noisy sex scenes and Batz's motorized sex toy to the first stirrings and later stalkings of his sentient genitalia. Optional English SDH subtitles are also included.


The 4K UltraHD disc in the package includes the feature and a pair of audio commentaries, starting with the more recent audio commentary by director Frank Henenlotter, director of photography Nick Deeg and actor Anthony Sneed in which Henenlotter attributes the good parts of the writing to Thorburn and discusses his love of sound design – as well as using sound to solve some issues with insufficient coverage – and the source of some of the film's sound effects (along with casting adult film actors for the porn film Batz is watching and their bewilderment when he did not film any explicit angles). While Henenlotter discusses directing Danielson in her difficult scenes, Sneed discusses shooting his nude scenes and his frustration that he was not allowed to do additional takes because Henenlotter wanted spontaneity. Deeg recalls shooting in the mansion without running water or heating and the fire caused by one of the generators (which Henenlotter tried to put out with cans of soda). They also point out various participants, including musicians and local personalities like "Rude" Jude Angelini from whom Henenlotter drew out a performance by telling him that he was not allowed to get physical with the crackwhore character (casting director Eleonore Hendricks) as she got in face and battered him.

Also included is the audio commentary by director Frank Henenlotter and producer R.A. Thorburn recorded for the earlier DVD and Blu-ray editions in which Thorburn recalls that the actor that played Jen's first victim was a childhood friend who had just served a ten-year prison sentence and did not want to do frontal nudity unless he could be erect even though he was supposed to be dead. They discuss the difficulty of finding a location as property owners raised their fees once they learned they were making a film and that the city would not provide rapper Thorburn with filming permits. They also discuss the ways in which they discovered some of the actors including his niece as young Jen, finding German model Bjorn Milz in a vitamin store and learning that he was taking acting classes, and Thorbun playing Jen's first love. Henenlotter discusses the prosthetic effects – Bartalos stayed in Thorbun's apartment during the shoot while Thorburn camped out at the mansion – and shooting a view from inside Jen's body.

The Blu-ray copy includes the feature and commentary tracks as well as "Spook House" (30:31) reuniting Henenlotter, Sneed, Thorburn, and his niece at a haunted house attraction in which they recall finding the mansion location and initially being put off by the hideous yellow paint job before realizing it suited the film. Also present in cutaways are production coordinator/set decorator Michael Shershenovich, cinematographer Deeg, and Henenlotter's brother who visited the location. They discuss how the area was pre-gentrificaiton and, while Thorburn dismisses the comments of others about the possibility of the mansion being haunted, he does recall being nervous about staying there alone because of possible squatters and vagrants.

"In the Basement with Charlee Danielson" (3:40) is a brief piece from 2006 in which she seems a bit wired while in "Deeg and Sneed" (66:52), the cinematographer and star expand on their commentary discussions. Deeg who was attending the New York Film Academy recalls being "tested" by Henenlotter and Thorburn who hired him to shoot a music video in 16mm and that colleagues advised him that he was in over his head taking on a 35mm feature as his first professional job. Sneed recalls touring and promoting indie rock bands, being introduced to Thorburn by a date and later contacted over MySpace about auditioning. Henenlotter initially cast another actor because he though Sneed weighed too much. When the other actor dropped out, Sneed managed to drop thirty pounds in a month for the role. He also recalls being impressed that Henenlotter's sphere of reference as a filmmaker did not only include horror films, recommending the 1939 The Hunchback of Notre Dame to get him in the mindset of Batz's solitary existence.

"Swollen Agenda" (11:47) is an interview with makeup effects artist Bartalos who recalls Henenlotter wanting to swing big for his comeback, the director's preoccupations with nudity and horror, and discusses the workings of the puppeteered genetalia.

"Beyond Bad" (31:46) is a behind the scenes look at the shoot from which footage is excerpted elsewhere in the shoot, while "F**k Face: The Man Behind the Lens" (7:59) is a look at the shooting of some of Jen's photographs of her sexual partners by photographer Clay Patrick McBride who had at the time been shooting rap artists for magazine covers.

"Suck" (11:59) is an amusing short film by Sneed about characters who develop a different sort of sexualized fixation and the disc also includes the "Legendary Loser" music video by R.A. The Rugged Man and an extensive image gallery of over two-hundred stills of the shoot provided by Thorburn.


Frank Henenlotter's return to directing after a near two-decade hiatus with Bad Biology may indeed be filth but it is also clever, artistic, and "stimulating."


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