Frisk (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

Frisk (1996)






Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A man pursues his sexual obsessions to their darkest and most dangerous extremes in this gay-themed drama based on a novel by Dennis Cooper. Dennis (Michael Gunther) is a gay man, who as a teenager developed a perverse attraction to violent pornography and simulated snuff photographs, which he describes in great detail in a series of letters to his former lover Julian (Jaie Laplante). As Dennis grows older, his fascination with the darker side of the sexual underground grows more intense, and in time he meets Henry (Craig Chester), a masochist who posed for some of the pictures that sparked his interest in S&M. When Dennis learns that Henry was murdered, he weaves the incident into an elaborate fantasy, in which Dennis suffers a painful death in a dungeon of erotic torture. In time, Dennis graduates from violent fantasies to sadistic interludes with a male prostitute (Michael Stock) and eventually plans a series of sexually-oriented murders, concluding with an episode in which Dennis and two collaborators (Parker Posey and James Lyons) drug a young punk (Alexis Arquette) into unconsciousness. After having group sex, Dennis and his cohorts murder the punk. As one might expect, Frisk proved to be highly controversial and received a sharply divided reaction in its screening as the closing night attraction at the 1996 San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival; some hailed it as a disturbing and iconoclastic masterpiece, while roughly half the audience angrily stormed out of the theater before the film's conclusion.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Jim Dwyer, George LaVoo, Todd Verow
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 5, 2005
Strand Releasing


Parker Posey
as Ferguson
James Lyons
as Gypsy Pete
Alexis Arquette
as Punk (Victim No. 3)
Mark Ewert
as Young Dennis/Jan/You...
Eric Sapp
as Sampson
David Webb
as Married John
Daniel Boyle
as Boy on Train
Michael Now
as Shopkeeper
Eric Dekker
as John (Victim No. 2)
Mark Finch
as Newscaster
Todd Verow
as Blond Man in Bathroo...
Bonnie Dickenson
as Blond Party Girl
Dustin Schell
as Snuff Photographer
Dennis Cooper
as Man in Hall
Frankie Payne
as Uhrs' Porn Co-Star
Damian Roberts
as Porn Crew Member
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Frisk

Critic Reviews for Frisk

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (5)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
New York Times
Top Critic

Aiming to explore the extremities of racial and sexual fetishism in the gay world, Frisk exhibits a huge gap between its provocative intent and weak execution level.

Full Review… | June 10, 2006

Audience Reviews for Frisk

I loved Dennis Cooper's book, I LOVE Parker Posey, Alexis Arquette and Craig Chester are cool too... but this movie didn't work. It's controversial just to try to adapt the story: you face criticism from GLAAD, you have to make a choice if you are going to show the grotesque violence, and you have the child actor issues if you want to really stay true to the story. Sure, the main elements are pretty much there, but I think the story was changed too much and just didn't have the impact of the book. It's not the worst movie I've ever seen by any means, but it's disappointing if you've read the book and it probably has even less impact for people who haven't read the book.


This is a very sick film. The low budget does hamper it's effectiveness, but the cast is good. Very cold and unfeeling, but I am sure that was the intent.

James Higgins

I watched this with low expectations, since the amazing book by Dennis Cooper that this movie is based on is heavily psychological and therefore hard to recreate on screen, but this felt like only a half-hearted attempt. The acting is embarrassing. Some of the voice-overs are quite eloquent, but that's simply because they're taken directly from the book, which this movie version ultimately detracts from.

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