Freaked (1993)

Directed By: Alex Winter
  Tom Stern
Written By: Alex Winter
  Tom Stern
Starring: Alex Winter
  Randy Quaid
  Michael Stoyanov
  Megan Ward

Freaked is a film very much of its time that has somehow managed to gain longevity based off of its wacky college boy humour and its surreal glee. It tells the cautionary tale of letting success get to your head, as Ricky Coogan (Bill & Ted’s Alex Winter) takes a high paying job as the spokesman for a controversial genetically modified fertiliser. This new job takes him to Sante Flan, along with his friend (Blossom’s Michael Stoyanov), where he is embroiled in a plot to turn ordinary people into “Hideous Mutant Freekz” spearheaded by pop culture literate mad scientist Elijah C. Skuggs (Randy Quaid).

From the opening credits, you are well aware of the madness that is in store over the coming 90 minutes. From the moment David Daniels madcap claymation kicks off to the tune of Henry Rollins‘ wailings, you know that this isn’t your everyday gross out comedy. But gross out it is, the pus flies high, heads are ripped clean off, and soliloquies are read to a packed audience of rioters. The only accurate term for this movie is zany. The jokes, as well as the moments of grossness, come at such a machine gun rapid rate that it is nigh on impossible to get bored. Sure, there are a few scenes of lull, and plenty of references that UK audiences won’t get without some canny use of the internet (flying gimp, anyone?) but it’s never far from making you chuckle.

Winter parodies himself with such acerbic gusto, it’s inconceivable that anyone would be able to dislike him despite the fact that his character begins as the kind of pampered bastard celebrity we all love to hate. The cast are clearly having the most fun, with all their acting dials turned firmly to eleven. I can imagine a very anarchic shoot. Quaid steals the film though, his insane, gurning Skuggs is just a delight. It’s a wonder he didn’t choke on that scenery though. Freaked also contains a stellar cameo from Winters’ old buddy Keanu Reeves, in his least wooden performance of the 90′s.

It’s the special effects and makeup that really sell this film. Ricky’s freak look is something between a gremlin and Lurch, and it looks incredible. Don’t get me wrong, you would never mistake these effects as reality, but there is such a sense of fun injected that you can almost see it through the screen. Nosey the Noseman, The Worm and Skye Daily’s feet all look incredible. I defy you to not raise a smirk at the “really big shoe.”

The underlying plot, when you remove the freakish aspects, is very basic and familiar. Asshole meets girl, overcomes circumstances to eventually not be an asshole any more. We’ve seen it thousands of times in Oscar winners right down to TV movies, but we have never seen it quite like this before. There is no new or exciting direction, although the set design and lighting is excellent, it’s the writing that is key here. With many ideas coming directly from a sketch show, the rapid fire humour pierces you with laughter bullets, until you are bleeding chuckles from all over. Freaked may not be for everyone, but if you like your humour puerile and inflected with a horror influence, then you most certainly will love this flick.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

3 Comments on “Freaked”

  1. Aaron Gillott says:

    I absolutely love this daft film to death, it never fails to tickle my funny bone. Spot-on review, Jamie (and Sarah too, on the podcast). :)

  2. The Scullion says:

    I totally agree – and it features some of the nuttiest cameos I’ve ever encountered – Keanu Reeves, William Sadler, Deep Roy, Brooke Shields and Mr T as the Bearded Lady! Insane fun! Bang on review.

  3. Sarah Law says:

    I think Jamie’s review says everything that we tried and failed to say in the podcast. It makes far more sense than 20 minutes of us blithering and going on about how ‘awesome’ it is ;)

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