Please Do Disturb: The Bride of Frank

“Too disturbing to watch. Too compelling to turn away.”

So says the tagline of this 1996 shot-on-video coal-black comedy from writer-director Steve Ballot (hiding behind the pseudonym Escalpo Don Blade). And unlike most horror-movie come-ons, it’s actually pretty accurate, just not quite in the way the filmmakers intended.

THE BRIDE OF FRANK lets you know upfront it’s not fucking around, starting off with its protagonist (a mush-mouthed scarecrow of an old man so unintelligible most of his dialogue is subtitled) picking up a little girl in a semi truck and, when she refuses to give him a kiss, clubbing her unconscious, only to run over her head. (The gloppy results are, naturally, lingered upon, right before Frank takes a nibble.) I think it’s safe to say this film intends to mine some seriously damaged territory.

The film is a portrait of sorts of the down-on-his-luck Frank; formerly homeless, he lives with a bunch of cats in the warehouse of the trucking company for which he works. He’s a hard worker, even if his body odor and explosive flatulence offends visiting dignitaries from out of town. Frank’s also lonely, so when he expresses a desire for a woman with “great big tits,” his warehouse buddies place a personal ad on his behalf and the ladies start lining up. It’s too bad Frank has a habit of graphically slaughtering anyone who gets on his nerves.

Despite its very shoddy production values, THE BRIDE OF FRANK is a frequently engaging film, due in large part to Frank Meyer’s star turn. It’s obvious he’s not a trained actor, and is quite possibly mentally ill. I’ve got a feeling the script was written around his skeevy mystique; it’s a raw wound of a performance, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that ol’ Frank didn’t have a clue what he was doing most of the time.

It gives the picture a sense of what BUMFIGHTS would look like with a narrative, and for nothing else Ballot could’ve easily made a queasy yet intriguing tale. But he decides to saddle his movie with excessive gore and sleazy comedy, undermining the production’s gritty nature. Most of the film is an episodic parade of potential dates who turn out to be obnoxious, rude, or (in one memorable instance) an incredibly aggressive transvestite–all of whom end up murdered in over-the-top fashion. These scenes are handled with sledgehammer precision with clumsy editing that makes them look ridiculous and amateurish.

More problematic is Ballot’s attempt at shock humor, but watching someone pull boogers out of their nose or Frank scrubbing his skid-marked undies with a toothbrush isn’t funny. It’s the equivalent of a child with a mouthful of chewed-up food, annoying more than amusing, and it all but destroys the seedy sensibility permeating the film.

Make no mistake, THE BRIDE OF FRANK is a bad, poorly made film. Yet, as the tagline suggested, I never felt compelled to shut it off. Probably because I was curious to see what disgusting hijinx Frank would be up to next–whether it was ripping off someone’s head and shitting down their neck, or skull-fucking a morbidly obese stripper. Say what you will, but at least Ballot makes up in audacity what he lacks in subtlety.

If you’re curious, Frank does find the lady of his dreams, and the carnival-hopping montage at the end of the movie counts as a happy ending, I guess; but Frank’s closing proclamation–“I can’t wait to have children”–ends THE BRIDE OF FRANK on a frightening note. Well, technically it ends with a godawful glam-rock song, but you know what I mean.

Recommended for die-hard sleazehounds, but you’ll probably hate yourself (and me) afterward.

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