Freaked Review

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A vain actor, his best friend, and an activist end up at a mutant freak farm run by a weirdo scientist


Lost along the highways and byways of studio politics for three years, Alex Winter’s comedy of the grotesque has finally been unearthed only to be tossed wantonly onto the pile marked “video hell”. And that’s a tragedy because as ugly, chaotic and uncommercial as it is (which would account for the studio burial) there is something deliciously subversive about the sick machinations of the artist formerly know as Bill.
Shot in a garish MTV style, the film follows wisecracking, smarmbucket TV celeb Ricky Coogin on a promotional visit to South America for a company peddling toxic waste. But rather than tout some environmental message, this is about giving the stomach glands a work over. A black comedy with various hues of yellow, green, red and pale brown thrown in for good measure. For Ricky and his buds Julie (Ward) and Ernie (Michael Stoyanov) happen upon a freakshow in the jungle, run by the despicable Elijah C. Skuggs (Quaid with Colonel Sanders whiskers), a psychotic impresario. Duped inside the hapless trio are given a heavy dosage of toxic yuck and join the rank of uglies housed in a Tardis-like privy.
The freaks are a fabulously disgusting bunch. Winter, and co-director Stern, gathered together Hollywood’s make-up maestros and commanded them to do their very worst. Count in a human worm with bad wind, an arrogant dogman (an uncredited Keanu Reeves), Mr. T as a bearded lady (think about it), and funniest of all is Bobcat Goldthwait as the human sock with desires on stand-up comedy. Meanwhile Ricky has become a puss dripping gargoyle and his pals sparring male-female Siamese twins. And, with Ricky as their elected leader, they plot to overthrow Skuggs.
Pitched about 20,000 leagues beneath puerile, running at a pace hijacked from a heavy metal video, and stuffed full of lust-for-disgust special effects, Winter and Stern’ movie is as subtle as the Plague. Yet they pull it off. Just. Any longer and it would be migraine city. But any film prepared to sink Brooke Shields in a vat of chemical waste is definitely worth an evening’s attendance.

A classic, of sorts.