This shot-on-video monstrosity can be characterized any number of ways—the ultimate Party Movie, the PINK FLAMINGOS of our day, a severely guilty pleasure—but I’ll sum it up like this: if you like your trashy movies served up wet and runny than you’ll doubtless enjoy THE BRIDE OF FRANK.
The joke behind this movie, about a derelict who does odd jobs for a New Jersey trucking company, is that this is the actual background of its protagonist, a real life homeless man named Frank Meyer. His trucker companions likewise play themselves.
But that’s where reality ends and the sick, perverted joyride concocted by writer/producer/director/cinematographer/editor/co-star Steve Ballot, a.k.a. “Escalpo Don Balde,” begins. The five-year production had no budget to speak of (which is evident throughout), and nor was there much in the way of a script (with Ballot reciting the dialogue on set and having his performers repeat it). Since its 1996 film festival bow THE BRIDE OF FRANK has become a cult legend, and justifiably so.
Frank is a butt-ugly, false teeth wearing geezer who works for a sleazy trucking company. He has a hair-trigger temper, which he unleashes on a small-time mobster who unwisely scolds Frank. Frank responds by biting the guy’s wang off and then returning to work (“Take that dick outta your mouth!” his supervisor scolds).
More killings follow, all covered up by Frank’s obliging co-workers. The victims include an unfortunate buck-toothed nerd who mouths off to Frank, who in turn threatens to rip off the nerd’s head and shit down his neck—and that’s exactly what he does!
But Frank is a softie at heart. After inadvertently deflating his cherished blow-up fuck doll, he decides it’s time to find a flesh and blood mate. Frank’s co-workers place an ad for prospective wives in the local paper (with the stipulation that respondents “must have big tits”). Several undesirable women answer the ad, including a potty-mouthed kung fu expert. After the latter insults Frank and kicks him several times, he offs her by jabbing a knife through her chin.
Another respondent gives Frank a blow job and then reveals “her” self as a trannie. Frank rips off part of the freak’s face and jams a hand through his neck. But the nastiest murder is saved for a fat chick who puts on a shitty dance routine for Frank and then insults him. He tells her he’s going to rip out her eye and skull fuck her—and means what he says!
How you respond to this film’s opening sequence—of Frank running over a little girl’s head and then eating her brains—will determine your enjoyment of the rest of the movie. Yes, THE BRIDE OF FRANK is trashy, crude and often downright nauseating, but it’s also oddly endearing and damned funny.
What Steve Ballot does here is similar to the accomplishments of quite a few no-budget auteurs, among them H.G. Lewis and John Waters: he’s compensated for his paltry budget and talent with a succession of outrageous taboo-shattering sequences. If the real job of a movie (as filmmaker Werner Herzog has claimed) is to show us new and arresting images than this one succeeds admirably. I’ve never seen a man get his head ripped off and his neck used as a toilet, as happens in this film, nor a guy picking his nose and lining his boogers up on a desk—and how about the skull-fucking shown herein? Somehow I don’t think you’ll be seeing such things in a Hollywood production.
Love it or hate it, THE BRIDE OF FRANK is a one-of-a-kind accomplishment, staking out its own shit-stained, filth-encrusted, maggot-ridden niche. As Ballot intones on his DVD audio commentary, “I pioneered a new filmmaking movement, just like a new bowel movement—here’s another piece of shit to watch.”
THE BRIDE OF FRANK
A New Movement/The School of Hyperrealism
Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Cinematographer/Editor: “Escalpo Don Balde” (Steve Ballot)
Cast: Frank Meyer, Steve Ballot, Johnny Horizon, Morgan Tara, Victor Delvalle, Bruce Frankel, Jim Moresca, Arnell Dowret, Eric Kaplan, Eddie Regan, Sal Mogavero, Bernard Briley, Sergio Lopez, Charles Gambino