By Keith Breese
Most stars spend the millions (or hundreds of thousands) they make on big budget films buying up real estate, new cars, fancy trophy spouses, designer luggage, and small, rodent-like dogs that don't really qualify as dogs but sadly think they do. (There is some innate "wolf-like" attitude in even the slightest of Chihuahuas, it's the glint of their teeth extended over tiny lips, the snarl; little dogs still have that "wild hunt" bred deep within them. This all seems very tangential but so is Freaked. I'm making a point here.) Alex Winter, hot off the success of the Bill and Ted films, decided to take his money and invest it in an off-the-wall comedy about circus freaks and hideous mutants. Makes sense, right?
Thing is, Winter had a great intuition unfortunately neither Hollywood nor the public was in a like mind. Freaked floundered and sank and now, after years of rumors, the gimp is back out of the trunk. And it's a groovy thing.
Freaked follows a burnt out former child star Ricky (Winter) who journeys to South America on behalf of a sleazy company looking to ditch some extra canisters of toxic Zygrot 24. While there, Ricky meets two fellow travelers, Ernie (Michael Stoyanov) and Julie (Megan Ward). The threesome winds up at Elijah C. Skuggs' (Randy Quaid) freak show where they are turned into, well, freaks. Ricky becomes a half-faced monstrosity, while Ernie and Julie are melded into one creature. As part of the freak show, they meet all the other players including the radical Dog Boy (an uncredited Keanu Reeves) looking to start a freak revolution, Sockhead (Bobcat Goldthwait), a man with the head of a sock puppet, and the Bearded Lady (Mr. T).
Freaked is based on a series of sketches and transposing it to film there are a few holes, but these are quickly and efficiently covered up with an unending barrage of jokes, most terrible, most incredibly funny. As such, the film lurches from point A to point B with an ADD like disposition, veering from low-brow butt joke to low bowel fart joke with nary a breath in between. This is also a film showcasing wild effects, in the geekiest sort of way imaginable. The prosthetics are all suitably outlandish, never believable, and fit well with the over-the-top thespianship.
I suppose there could be some sort of subversive angle to all the madness on display here, but I suspect it's just what happens when you get a bunch of hipsters too weird for their own good in a room together and ask them to come up with something funny. W. D. Richter and Earl Mac Rauch did something similar with the more visionary Buckaroo Banzai. But that was more for the science nerds, the librarians, and the lit geeks. Freaked is for the glue-sniffing, Python fans that watch Porky's stoned and listen to Butthole Surfers.
At only 86 minutes, Freaked is a cult film for every 12-year-old boy on a sugar high looking for a night of giggle-induced hyperventilation.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 29th September 1995
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Tommy
Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 9
Cast & Crew
Starring: Brooke Shields as Skye Daley, William Sadler as Dick Brian, Alex Winter as Ricky Coogan, Randy Quaid as Elijah C. Skuggs, Michael Stoyanov as Ernie, Megan Ward as Julie, Mr. T as The Bearded Lady, Alex Zuckerman as Stuey Gluck, Ray Baker as Bill Blazer, Morgan Fairchild as Stewardess, Patti Tippo as Rosie the Pinhead, Lee Arenberg as The Eternal Flame, John Hawkes as Cowboy, Derek McGrath as Worm, Jeff Kahn as Nosey, Bobcat Goldthwait as Sockhead, Michael Gilden as Eye, Keanu Reeves as Ortiz the Dog Boy, Deep Roy as George Ramirez #3, Jon M. Chu as Giant Stuey Monster