Freaked (1993) — Bill and Ted’s excellent monster movie

“So many milk men. No wonder they fight.”

Justin’s rating: Strange things are afoot…

Justin’s review: Once in a while, while sitting with some friends on a highway overpass and looking down on all the peons rush-rush-rushing in their rat race, the question will invariably arise:

“So, you guys remember Bill from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure? Did he die or something? What happened to him?”

Nobody ever asks about the fate of Ted – aka Keanu Reeves – for we all know well his launch to super-stardom with the film Sweet November.

Anyway, to answer my imaginary question to my imaginary friends, I’d have to pull out this unearthed copy of Freaked and say, “THIS. This is what happened to Bill. And what a way to go it was!”

Freaked was Alex Winter’s (Bill) roll of the dice after his bump into the spotlight from both The Lost Boys and the Bill and Ted films. The result? A cult gem. Considering that I’d never even heard of this movie until this year, and that Winter pretty much stopped acting after this point and went into directing (mostly small-fry stuff), you could claim it wasn’t the shot of double espresso he might’ve hoped for.

But when we take off one smelly shoe and put on another, wriggling our toes in the slightly damp cavern of an athlete’s foot nightmare, Freaked did Winter right. And us too. It’s a terribly funny movie that had me – about midway through – falling not just a little bit in love with it. Couple with the critical praise it’s gotten and the recent lavish DVD production, there’s definitely some cult fever out there for an odd little flick about mutations and sock puppets.

The best way I can get a finger on the comedy style is to compare it (favorably) to Weird Al’s UHF. Both movies didn’t showcase stellar acting, didn’t shy away from lame or broad jokes, and weren’t afraid to pull a little severed body part action if the scene needed it. Both movies also are surprisingly witty if you give them a chance, creating endearing characters and a gonzo spirit that gladly replaces common sense with a joke just to get a laugh. If it was any less smart, Freaked would’ve been a step-brother of the gross-out Toxic Avenger, but it’s actually not too offensive. Just… freaky.

In Freaked, Ricky (Winter) is a popular TV actor who’s selling out to promote toxic chemicals in some South American country. Ironic justice prevails, however, as he (along with his best friend and love/hate interest) are kidnapped by a crazed sideshow circus ringleader (Randy Quaid), mutated with chemicals, and forced to put on shows for the amazingly large crowd of white folks that populate South America. Half of Ricky’s face and body melt into a grotesque monster (Winter spends most of the film talking out of the side of his mouth), and his two traveling companions have their bodies fused together as one (the boy half going through PMS is priceless).

Makeup artists died and went to heaven at this point, for the three of them are thrown into the largest outhouse/apartment in the world to meet all the rest of the freaks. There’s the Ortiz the Dog Boy (man/dog), Worm (worm/man), Cowboy (cow/man), Nosey (a man with a huuuuge schnoz), Toad (who likes shooting his tongue out to eat little bunny rabbits), Rosey the Pinhead, Frogman (a French scuba diver), and then… my two absolute favorite characters in the whole film. Curious? Here goes:

Bob Goldthwait (Police Academy 4) as Sockhead, a man with the head of a sock puppet. Goldthwait actually only gets a slice of cameo time in his normal body, but the Sockhead version works oh so well with his crazed and buttery voice.

And then there’s…

Mr. T as the Bearded Lady. I. Kid. You. Not. Previously I thought the apex of filmmaking was to see Mr. T as The Wise Janitor, but that doesn’t even hold a candle to Mr. T with a beard and a dress in this film. Seriously… I still think my head’s going to explode from happiness. In a good way.

The gang of freaks tries to outwit the ringleader, corporate types and machine gun-toting eyeballs to rebel and escape. Will they? Tune in next week, same Freak time, same Freak channel!

Didja notice?

  • Weird cross-over to Bill & Ted #1: Who is Ortiz the Dog Boy? Why, it’s Ted (Keanu Reeves) himself, in an uncredited role!
  • Weird cross-over to Bill & Ted #2: William Sadler has a part in this, playing an evil corporate type; he was also the Grim Reaper in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. Cool!
  • Funky opening credits! I think I’m blind…
  • Everything Except Shoes’ logo
  • Juan grows smaller for no reason
  • The troll getting sucked out of the airplane — you know you laughed!
  • Wanton plan destruction
  • Pre-PCU Megan Ward
  • Woody Woodpecker sounds
  • The very fake butterfly
  • Toad vs. Bunny, Toad wins
  • That’s one big outhouse
  • Bob Villa! Sort of!
  • Hollywood Squares
  • Shakespeare DOES need subtitles
  • Eye security guards
  • A whole lotta milkmen
  • Slide shows are fun
  • Macheesmo!
  • Winter claims that the drool and spit coming from his mouth after Ricky gets transformed was real, caused by the make-up.
  • An homage to stop-motion guru Ray Harryhausen can be seen in the effects sequence that first transforms the heros of Freaked when the Cyclops head from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad briefly appears.
  • The legs of the actor playing “The Worm” are visible in a few shots, most notably when Rick presents the bag of macaroons.

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