Monsoon-A-Day ‘Freaked’ (1993)

Welcome to Monsoon-a-day.
Where I watch and review a movie a day. Or whenever I fucking feel like it.

Day 85

 

 

Before I start my review, let’s play a little game I call “guess the actor under the make up.” It’s simple and rather self explanatory but for those of you that spent your early childhood in cribs coated in lead paint, the rules are as follows:

Guess who the actor is and win a prize. Rules so simple, even [controversial celebrity reference that will immediately date this article in a decade inserted here] would understand them.

 


 

 

1. The Wolf Boy

 

2. The Cowman

 

The first is played by an A list actor who was in two of Tarantino’s 20 favorite films since 92 list and the second got their big break in a film directed by frequent Tarantino collaborator and friend Robert Rodriguez. Those are your terrible hints and bonus points if you don’t use Google. Good luck.


 

There’s a famous quote by Andy Warhol that states “in the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.” The man was a terrible artist but as a prophet, that declaration carries more weight than anything Nostradamus ever said. With the advent of social media and easy to use, affordable technology, everyone has access to the spotlight and with it, their 15 minutes.

Psychiatrist and Warhol acquaintance Dr. Robert B. Millman coined the term “acquired situational narcissism”, which is defined as a person exhibiting narcissistic behavior after becoming successful or popular. Some become vain and others become addicted to the fame until the inevitable vanity project.

On a long enough timeline, everyone will eventually get their own vanity project. Whether it’s a pretentious children’s restaurant or a exclusive YouTube “tv” show, everyone who’s had more than their allotted 15 minutes will get the opportunity to show the world the thing that drives them. Or they’ll just slap their name on anything in the hopes of stretching that time just a little longer.

The worst offenders of the vanity project, are easily singers turned actors. Producers have continually tried to roll the dice on films that revolve around singers with little to no prior acting experience.

And it’s always snake eyes.

Yes, Giorgio, Swept Away, Glitter, From Justin to Kelly, In the Mix, Falling from Grace, Under the Cherry Moon, The Wiz, Sincerely Yours, Give my regards to Bradstreet, Cool as Ice, Spice World and Chris Gaines.

The list goes on and on (technically that last one isn’t a film but the entire album/persona that Garth Brooks adapted for about 20 minutes back 1999 was going to tie into a movie, so I decided to include it. Plus, it’s just awful and deserves to be mocked regularly) and they’re all universally terrible. Giving a person who’s internet famous a vanity project leads to something terrible on a micro level. They’re fame is miniscule, so their projects won’t plague that many people but celebrities who get vanity projects that are already household names usually lead to garbage so foul, even raccoons wouldn’t dine on them.

But every once in awhile, we get vanity projects from people that–for lack of a better term–are crazier than a shit house rat. That leads to films like Freddy Got Fingered, Cabin Boy, Nothing But Trouble and most recently Lost River. There are clearly crazier films out there but there’s something even crazier knowing that behind the teddy bear like facade of a Dan Aykroyd lies a film like Nothing But Trouble. We expect crazy from crazy but it’s the seemingly normal people creating crazy that’s doubly surprising.

Which is all a huge build up to explain the film Freaked. Which is a film that needs some building up on account of its craziness.

Alex Winter shot to fame as the guy that’s not Keanu Reeves in the two Bill and Ted films and decided to parlay that fame into making a film about freaks. Which isn’t a topic that in of itself, is crazy but these aren’t the freaks of the sideshow variety. These are genetically altered cartoons that laugh in the face of physics.

There’s a man with a sock puppet for a head, a humanoid worm, a talking cow, a set of anthropomorphic walking eyes and a bearded lady played by Mr. T to list just a few oddities.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Winter plays a vain, self centered actor who accepts a job to become the new spokesman of toxic fertilizer in South America. While there, he tries to pick up an environmentalist with the story that he is on his way to another protest and that she should come along. After is ill conceived lie is immediately exposed, he, the environmentalist and the actors friend decide to stop by a freak show.

Because of reasons.

They are promptly kidnapped by the owner (Randy Quaid) and then turned into freaks. The film doesn’t have the strongest plot but it more than makes up for it in shear madness. It feels like a Mad magazine comic turned into a John Kricfalusi (Ren and Stimpy) cartoon that was then adapted by a guy that watched that non-existent cartoon whilst high on cough syrup.

The insane visual gags come at you so fast, it’s whiplash inducing. It’s a film that’s comedy had no audience because it predated Adult Swim by 20 years and came out right before MTV started experimenting in bizarre cartoons. Which is a nice way of saying it bombed. It was a film that was too weird for the early 90’s but God bless the studio for taking a chance on another vanity project. Because this was originally conceived as a horror film starring the band Butthole Surfers.

Which begs the question: which is crazier, the idea that a studio wanted a horror film starring the Butthole Surfers or that the studio kept this film alive long enough for it to evolve into this?

The 90’s were fucking weird.

 


If you guessed Keanu Reeves and John Hawkes, congratulations! You win nothing because I know you used Google. You’re a cheater and you disgust me.