WTFW: Freaked (1993)

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WTFW: Freaked (1993)

Freaked (originally titled Hideous Mutant Freekz) is a 1993 American comedy film, directed by Tom Stern and Alex Winter, and written by Stern, Winter and Tim Burns.  All three were involved in the short-lived MTV sketch comedy show "The Idiot Box", and Freaked retains the same brand of surrealistic and absurdist humor as seen in the show.

Originally conceived as a low-budget horror film featuring the band Butthole Surfers, Freaked went through a number of rewrites, eventually developing into a black comedy set within a sideshow, which was picked up by 20th Century Fox for a feature film.  After several poor test screenings and a change in studio executives who then found the film too "weird", the movie was pulled from a wide distribution and only played on a handful of screens in the United States.


Freaked (1993)

  • Genre: Comedy – Sci-Fi
  • Directed:
    • Tom Stern 
    • Alex Winter
  • Produced:
    • Stephen Chiodo 
    • Harry J. Ufland 
    • Mary Jane Ufland 
    • Alex Winter
  • Written:
    • Tim Burns 
    • Tom Stern 
    • Alex Winter
  • Starring: Brooke Shields, William Sadler, Eduardo Ricard, Henry Carbo, Deep Roy, Mihaly 'Michu' Meszaros, Brian Brophy, Michael Stoyanov, Morgan Fairchild, Alex Zuckerman, Megan Ward, Randy Quaid
  • Music: Kevin Kiner
  • Cinematography:
    • Jene Omens 
    • Jamie Thompson
  • Editing: Malcolm Campbell
  • Studio: Tommy
  • Distributed:
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment  
    • Laurenfilm  
    • Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 1 October 1993
  • Running Time: 80 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

The film starts with a breaking news report announcing that the flying gimp has been destroyed.  The news break ends to reveal "The Skye Daley Show", already in progress.  Skye is interviewing beloved former child star Ricky Coogin.  Rather bluntly, Skye asks how Ricky so quickly went from one of America's sweethearts to a name that makes children scream in terror.

It all began when he accepted a job from the slimy mega-corporation E.E.S. (the 'Everything Except Shoes Corporation') to promote "Zygrot 24", a controversial and lethal toxic fertilizer, in South America.  Although hesitant at first, the greedy, self-centered Coogin caves in after their sleazy chairman offers him $5,000,000 and he hops on the first plane to South America with his buddy Ernie.  During their flight, the duo have a run-in with Ricky's number one fan Stuey Gluck.  Showing no compassion at all, Ricky quickly brushes Stuey off, causing a series of events that ends up with Stuey falling out of the airplane and plummeting to the ground below.

Once Ricky and Ernie arrive in the country of Santa Flan, they cross paths with a group of protesters, specifically the hard-willed and attractive young environmentalist Julie.  The two con Julie into thinking they're also environmentalists and she agrees to join them on a trip to an anti-Zygrot 24 protest.  However, she soon finds out their true identities and the three are stuck with each other for the rest of the drive.  They decide to take a detour to see Freek Land, a freak show, and they wind up in the clutches of demented proprietor Elijah C. Skuggs and his henchman, the long-tongued Toad.  Skuggs introduces them to his "Tasty Freekz Machine", a contraption powered by Zygrot 24 that morphs regular people into "Hideous Mutant Freekz" to become part of his show.  Julie and Ernie are merged into a pair of conjoined twins and Ricky is transformed into a hideous half-man, half-monster.

Now incorporated in Elijah's freak show, Ricky meets the other freaks: Ortiz the Dog Boy, the self-proclaimed "Leader of the Freaks"; Worm, the half-man, half-worm; Nosey, whose entire head is one big nose; Cowboy, the half-man, half-cow; the Bearded Lady; Sockhead, who has a sock puppet for a head; The Eternal Flame, who has constant flaming flatulence; Rosie the Pinhead; The Hideous Frogman, a Frenchman in a scuba suit; and the skeleton of Paul Lynde.  At first, Ricky wants nothing to do with any of the other freaks, but soon warms up to them after hearing their stories of how they came to be here.  Meanwhile, he discovers that he's  developed a telepathic bond with Stuey and summons him to get help.  Stuey manages to sell Ricky's story to the Weekly World News, but ends up being captured by a group of shady businessmen that presumably work for Elijah.

The night of the big show comes, and each of the freaks perform a routine for a sold-out house, including Julie and Ernie's comedy and dance routine and Sockhead's heartfelt rendition of "The Wienerschnitzel Polka".  Ricky, encouraged by Worm, decides to turn his deformity into the acting chance of a lifetime: he performs the opening soliloquy from Richard III (which comes with subtitles for the "culturally illiterate" that condenses the famous speech into the more succinct "I'm ugly. I never get laid.") which moves the audience to tears and earns him a standing ovation.  An E.E.S. executive arrives and, disgusted by Ricky's new appearance, tells him he's fired, causing the entire audience to start laughing at him.  Overcome by rage, Ricky rips off the executive's head and the crowd runs away in terror, much to Elijah's amusement, ("now that's entertainment").

The next day, Ricky attempts to escape but is caught by a pair of talking, machine-gun toting Rastafarian eyeballs who take him to Elijah's lair.  Elijah informs Ricky that at the next show, he plans to mutate him into a full beast that'll slaughter all of the other freaks, a surefire moneymaking event.  On his way back, Ricky runs into the other freaks in the middle of their own escape attempt.  He tries to warn them about the eyeballs, but none of them take him seriously.  He gets into a blade fight with Ortiz, who ends up running off to chase a squirrel, catching the attention of the trigger-happy eyeballs who chase him out of the park.  The freaks decide to elect Ricky as their new leader and Julie admires him for his selfless act.

After Ricky tells the other freaks of Elijah's plans, the group devise a scheme to get back at him by altering the supply of Zygrot 24 to transform Ricky into a peaceful superfreak instead of a murderous one.  Ricky, Ernie, Julie and Worm tunnel into Elijah's lab and successfully concoct an altered batch of the chemical.  Meanwhile, back at the quarters, Sockhead gets nervous and tries to make a break for it, only to be fatally gunned down by the eyeballs.  Upon escaping from the lab, Ricky loses the Zygrot, but instead finds a tasty batch of macaroons, which sparks a celebration amongst the hungry freaks.

Ricky eventually finds out that Elijah's Zygrot suppliers are none other than E.E.S., who arrive at Freek Land with a shipment of Zygrot and an imprisoned Stuey Gluck.  As they discuss their plans to mutate the world's population into an efficient workforce, Stuey follows a telepathic tip from Rick and manages to escape, grabbing the tainted batch of Zygrot along the way.  Later that night, at the show, before he manages to deliver the Zygrot to Ricky, Stuey accidentally gets the chemical poured on him, transforming him into a seven-foot monster.  Elijah sends the eyeballs after him, but they're quickly dispatched after the Stuey Monster throws dirt at them.  Toad tries to take him out with his tongue, but accidentally swallows a firecracker thrown by Ernie and thus explodes, splashing goo all over the audience.

Elijah goes ahead and infects Ricky with his own Zygrot, turning him into an equally grotesque seven-foot monster. As the Ricky Monster and Stuey Monster battle to the death onstage, Elijah catches the E.E.S. executives double-crossing him and stealing his "Tasty Freaks Machine".  Elijah soaks them all with the Zygrot, mutating them all into a giant, fleshy shoe.  Right before the Ricky Monster is about to destroy the Stuey Monster, however, a wave of compassion comes over him, and he drops his weapon and gives Stuey a hug.  Enraged, Elijah unsuccessfully tries to fight the Ricky Monster, who bashes him in the head, paralyzing him.  Pleading for his life, Elijah says that only he can get the freaks back to normal: he baked a time-release antidote into a batch of macaroons.  The Ricky Monster knocks him into an open vat of Zygrot 24, telling him that he "skimped on the coconut", just as the FBI arrive to save the day.  Elijah dramatically rises from the vat, transformed into a hideous beast that looks exactly like Skye Daley.  The FBI agents gun him down.

Back on "The Skye Daley Show", the entire audience has fallen asleep and it's revealed that Ricky Coogin's grotesque silhouette was nothing more than the shape of a cactus in the background.  One by one, the freaks are brought out onto the stage, each one transformed back to normal, with the exception of Worm, who bitterly states that he's never liked macaroons.  They are then joined by the still-mutated Ortiz and the Stuey Monster before it's revealed that Skye Daley is actually Elijah C. Skuggs.  Skuggs lunges after Ricky with a machete, only to be gunned down by the now normal Julie.  As she embraces Ricky, Skye rises again, this time to be gunned down by Ernie.  After Ricky and Ernie discuss what they've learned from their whole experience, they wave goodbye to the studio audience.  Before the credits roll, though, the machete-wielding Skye lunges at them one more time...


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