The manic writing-directing comedy team of Tom Stern and Alex Winter (the latter of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey) followed up their deranged short-film collaborations and the short-lived MTV series The Idiot Box with this comic fantasy, which amounts to a virtual car crash of anarchic, mind-blowing weirdness. The ...
The manic writing-directing comedy team of Tom Stern and Alex Winter (the latter of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey) followed up their deranged short-film collaborations and the short-lived MTV series The Idiot Box with this comic fantasy, which amounts to a virtual car crash of anarchic, mind-blowing weirdness. The brain-damaged plot follows self-centered sitcom actor Ricky Coogin (Winter), official spokesman for the E.E.S. (Everything Except Shoes) corporation, into the jungle-bound South American nation of Santa Flan. Coogin has been sent as an emissary on behalf of E.E.S. to placate the media uproar over a substance called Zygrot-27, a chief ingredient in many E.E.S. products which has been decried as a fatal environmental toxin. Accompanied by his friend Ernie (Michael Stoyanov) and environmental activist Julie (Megan Ward), Ricky takes a detour into the jungle to a bizarre amusement park overseen by bombastic barker/inventor Elijah C. Skuggs (Randy Quaid), who specializes in the display of "Hideous Mutant Freekz" (the film's original title). The trio soon discover that Skuggs manufactures his oddities himself, and they find themselves at the mercy of his hideous freakmaking factory -- which coincidentally uses Zygrot-27 as a catalyst. Once he has the hapless heroes strapped down, Skuggs reveals his intention to transform Coogin into an evil mega-freak who will destroy all the others in a slam-bang, standing-room-only closing event. Miffed at the notion of sustaining an acting career as a spine-covered, pus-gushing monster, Coogin joins a rebellion within Skuggs' captive stable of other man-made freaks -- whose ranks include such monstrosities as effete human worm; a bearded lady (Mr. T in a frilly dress); a man with a sock-puppet for a head (voiced by Bob Goldthwait); and Ortiz the Dog-Boy (an uncredited Keanu Reeves). Their plans to turn Ricky into a zygrot-powered superhero go astray, however, leading to a hilariously apocalyptic finale. Doomed to home-video status by lethargic distribution from Twentieth-Century Fox, this unappreciated gem deserves a second look; packed with hilarious visual gags, ultra-gross setpieces and body-function jokes, Freaked is a hallucinogenic funhouse of a movie. Cavett Binion, Rovi
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