By: Teah Henry
‘Freaked’ is a 1993 comedy written and directed by Alex Winter and Tom Stern. It stars Alex Winter as smug celebrity Ricky Coogin, who is hired by the company Everything Except Shoes, or E.E.S. for short, as a spokesperson to speak against accusations that the company is producing a harmful toxic waste. Sent to South America by E.E.S., Ricky and two of his friends end up taking a detour to visit a freak show, only to find that it’s run by a mad scientist who kidnaps them and turns them into freaks for his show.
The movie was originally an ‘Evil Dead’ style horror movie starring the band Butthole Surfers. After some rewrites, it became a surrealist comedy more in line with the directors’ MTV show, ‘The Idiot Box’.
When they pitched the film to Fox, Joe Roth was the studio head, and he gave them twelve million dollars as a budget. Unfortunately, Roth would be fired during ‘Freaked’ being filmed, and was replaced by Peter Chernin, who did not like the film and cut the budget.
‘Freaked’ made only $30,000 dollars in theaters, mostly due to the cutting down Chernin and Fox did to the budget and publicity.
It’s a shame the movie didn’t do well at its release, because it’s one of the most creative comedies out there. It feels like it easily could have become a classic alongside other movies such as ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’.
It’s surreal humor features jokes where an outhouse is humongous on the inside, or how the villain character can’t hear a loud crash but can hear a styrofoam cup falling to the floor. It never misses a beat with the laughs, and the script is actually pretty smart with some jokes being cleverly set up in the beginning of the movie, only for the punchline to appear near the end.
If the humor isn’t your thing, its special effects are worth watching the movie for on their own. Done by three different companies, the effects in ‘Freaked’ create an ensemble of people turned into freaks such as a human worm and a man with a nose bigger than his face. It’s all done incredibly well, especially the make-up for Ricky Coogin, once he’s turned into a half-human, half-beast. It was even nominated for a Saturn Award for best make-up.
Despite its troubled release, ‘Freaked’ has become somewhat of a cult hit. It’s not available anywhere to watch officially, but the movie has been uploaded on YouTube in its entirety and has nearly one million views. Most people that have seen it agree that it’s a good movie while being very, very weird.
‘Freaked’ is a look at how films and their creators can get shortchanged by a big studio, but luckily, some films are able to gain a decent fan base based simply on the quality of the movie alone. If you need a movie to watch, ‘Freaked’ is a good one to check out.