Frankie is the epitome of underachiever living in small, scummy, suburban house with an antagonistic and obtruding houseguest, Tommy Spioch, indisposed to ever new living accommodations and a brash Katie, Frankie’s wife, who loathes every fiber in his body, but reaps the benefits of his income. Fed up with how the way things are, Frankie impulsively decides to do something about by trying to kill Spioch, but when Spioch kidnaps Katie, Frankie wusses out on his freedom from their oppressors and pines to find Katie by hitting the streets. Frankie encounters the strange and unusual as well as the macho confrontational characters along the way, involving a spider with human face, a homeless man with paradoxical wisdom, naked fairies, Mormon aliens, and a hideous marionette-like boy.
In the midst of writing this review, Lewis Carroll is probably rolling over six feet underneath his English gravestone with the bastardized fantasy-comedy variation of his classic literary tale of “Alice in Wonderland with the 2011 released film, “Frankie in Blunderland,” from director Caleb Emerson (“Die You Zombie Bastards!”). Emerson, who is also a frequent editor for “Tosh.0,” helms the pretzeled script written by the late Marta Estirado, who passed away before the official release of the film, but “Frankie in Blunderland” is the Spanish-born writer’s debut screenplay twisted with browbeating cinema anarchism while juxtaposing circumstantial life defeat with an adventitious urge to be better despite the odds. Shot mainly in the greater Los Angeles area of Echo Park and Eagle Rock, “Frankie in Blunderland” is an Emerson funded, low-budget project that courses the weird and unnatural, a pair of descriptors that aren’t so abnormal on and off the streets of Los Angeles.
After assisting his editor skills with “The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol,” which was starred, produced, written, and directed by Tommy Pistol himself, Emerson locked down Pistol, whose credited under his real name of Aramis Sartorio, to be the titular character, Frank Bellini. If you’ve been audience to any of Tommy Pistol’s *cough cough* porn, you’re well aware of the male performer’s more-than-professional uninhibited nature to do anything on screen. The same uninhibited nature transcends out of adult industry and into the off-Hollywood narrative as Satorio unloads a wide array of unbridled range that allows Satorio to not only be a despondently enfeebled and sheepish Frankie, but also extend to his self-assured Tommy Pistol persona on the latter half of the character arc. Thea Martin and Brett Hundley (“The Trek”) play Katie and Tommy Spioch respectively as the adverse versions of Frankie’s wife and best friend. Katie and Tommy sincerely embark on the utmost effort in making Frankie feel like a worthless wanker by belittling him continuously on every whim he allows Katie and Tommy to get away with while they also stir the lobotomizing love triangle with their own sidebar skirmishes and much like the Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” every character that shows up in “Frankie in Blunderland” is antagonistic to one and another in a bizarre battle royale of an irritational reality. The colorful characters continue with performances by David Reynolds (“House of 1000 Corpses”), John Karyus (“Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead”), Caleb Emerson, Gio Paloma (“Dawn of the Head”), John Christopher Morton (“Girls Against Boys”), Vincent Cusimano (“Blade the Iron Cross”), John Brookbank, Bryan Planer, Sadie Blades, and special appearances by “Slime City Massacre’s” Debbie Rochon as a human-spider and Evan Stone as a well-endowed fairy.
Like a full-feature skit from Eric Wareheim and Tim Heidecker, “Frankie in Blunderland” will activate your receptive inertia dampeners, slowing your comprehension down to the point of a snail’s speed on what exactly is going on with Frankie and his misadventures through an alternate reality of the real world all the while encountering the obscure and abnormal characters along the way, rekindling that trippy, if not hallucinogenic, sensation one gets when watching any other bizarre renditions more faithful to the Lewis Carroll’s classic but with more dry wit and blood. While I feign to know all the answers about the meaning behind Estirado’s outlandish script, I’m truly at a loss for words at understanding it, a feel much of the cast has also stated, and to interpret “Frankie in Blunderland” is to be a perceptive cinematic aficionado disconnected for reality, but from what themes I think I do perceive, Frankie reverses course on moral obligations for self-importance to become a quasi-anti-hero in bizarro world. For much of the film, Frankie is tormented, internally and externally, as he subsequently beats himself up over the abuse he meekly swallows from wife Katie and no-so-best friend Spioch and as act one continues to punish the mildly manner Frankie, there comes a point where Frankie is a glutton to own his maltreatment, learns to evolve from it, and becomes one with the disparaging masses in order to be part of the salt-in-the-wound collective that attempt to beat into submission or just downright destroy those unlike them, seen with characters like the loafer Mike West, the unsightly disjointed puppet boy, and a doughy-soft security guard named Peanutch, whereas a fem-bot, Maggie Robot, whose secretly a robot posing as a woman, can simulate into the natural order of the Blunderland society. When Frankie begins to thrash against and degrade these said characters is when he ascends beyond his suicidal thoughts and shoving aside his timid nice guy persona for more turbulent attitude toward life. If this speculation is anywhere near being accurate, then “Frankie in Blunderland” is a revolutionary view of unorthodox measures to rise up above despair in a day of stupidity enveloped by a ludicrous satire.
Perhaps not very extreme, but certainly raw, “Frankie in Blunderland” lands onto DVD under the Wild Eye Releasing sublabel, Raw and Extreme, and distributed by MVDVisual. The re-released Wild Eye Reelasing DVD is presented in a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, housed with a new illustrated artwork liner that’s akin to the Ghana hand-drawn posters and, more than like, keeps with the first pressing’s lossy compressed image and spastic image jittering shifting between different levels of picture and detail degradation. The vapid coloring devours any story-telling vibrancy, leaving the scenes seemingly lifeless and aesthetically devoid, especially when Frankie has his loopy, unconscious discharge of repeated scenes and avant garde imagery after passing out thinking he killed Tommy Spioch. The visual effects are almost cut and paste crude, but add to the chaotic charm of Frankie’s living nightmare. The stereo dual channel audio mix is equally as lossy noticeably muffled by the compression, leaving also a faint and lingering hum through the 82 minute duration. The position of the dialogue remains even, if not behind, the ambient and soundtrack audiophiles and without any depth and range to compensate the lack of gusto, dialogue is lost in a lackluster limbo of lame and loitering linguistics. On a microbudget of this level, don’t expect in depth special features, but considering the content, I’m happily surprised of what’s available which includes a Caleb Emerson director’s commentary, cast and crew interviews with Aramis Sartorio, a peculiar interview with Thea Martin, and director Caleb Emerson, along with six teaserettes which are short clips from the film, and rounding out with Wild Eye Releasing trailers. “Frankie In Blunderland” is a labor of love for Marta Estirado and a sure fire way to kill a couple of brain cells in this degradingly funny demoralizing epic.