Film / Freaked

"...In Freaked, there's a scene where they throw a mutant kid out of an airplane and he falls thousands of feet to smack into the ground. And every time I'm about to trick myself into thinking I have a sophisticated sense of humor, I catch myself rewinding that scene five hundred times."

Freaked is a 1993 cult movie co-written, co-directed by and starring Alex Winter as Ricky Coogan, an arrogant blockbuster actor, and Randy Quaid as Elijah C. Skuggs, a Mad Scientist who turns him into a sideshow freak. Ricky, a spokesperson for a company that produces toxic chemicals, travels to South America to get a first-hand look at the chemical's effects. He finds himself at a mutant freak farm run by Skuggs, who eagerly turns Ricky into another subject for his freak machine.

It was originally pitched as a low-budget vehicle for the Butthole Surfers, but went through a number of rewrites, eventually developing into a Black Comedy set within a sideshow.

Also starring William Sadler, Brooke Shields, Mr. T as the bearded lady and an uncredited Keanu Reeves as Ortiz the dogboy.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alien Geometries: The freaks are all kept inside an outhouse, much bigger from the inside.
    Ricky: Great use of the space.
    Skuggs: Yeah, yeah. I learned it all from Bob Villa.
  • Animated Credits Opening: In creepy Claymation.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Zygrot-24.
  • Bandage Mummy: Ricky disguises himself as one to try and seduce Julie when it's apparent she vehemently opposes his sponsorship of Zygrot-24.
  • Body Horror: 80% of the cast.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Happens to Socko after he gets shot by the evil Rastafarian eyeballs with machine guns. Even though he has a sock puppet covering a human hand instead of a head.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the film, Ortiz chases after a squirrel, and in doing so, is pursued by the Rastafarian eyeballs. He appears at the very end, having survived, and finally catches the squirrel!
    • Ricky fails to complete an important operation, but it's okay, because he nabbed some tasty macaroons! Everyone's happy, save the Worm, who doesn't like them. Turns out those macaroons contained the antidote for the transformation. Everyone turns back to normal...except the Worm, who didn't eat any.
  • The Cameo: Ernie & Julie briefly turn into Gumby and Pokey during their mutation sequence. Gumby-Julie starts pulling his pud and flips off Skuggs.
    • Larry 'Bud' Melman inexplicably appears for a couple of random scenes at the freak show.
    • Butthole Surfers vocalist Gibby Haynes is the audience member with the third eye tattoo who points out Socko has a hand under his sock.
    • Sam Raimi plays one of the cops on the cheesy TV show that Skuggs watches.
    • Director Catherine Hardwicke (who served as production designer) appears as a freak show patron.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The macaroons. They contain the cure for Zygrot-induced mutations.
  • Companion Cube: One of the freaks is a hammer. It used to be wrench.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The CEO of the EES Corporation.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Skuggs has a little something just in case of "doublecrossing corporate greaseballs" but it probably doesn't count, since he is working with a company of double-crossing corporate greaseballs.
  • The Dragon: Toad.
  • Evil Laugh: Parodied. Turns out Elijah C. Skuggs just can't get enough of The Family Circus.
    • There's also "codename: Laughing Man", secretly the CEO of EES, whose dialogue over the phone is nothing but this.
      Skuggs: I'm sorry, can you spell that for me?
      Laughing Man: Ha. Hoo. Hee. Heh. Hah.
      Skuggs: Okay, I got it.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: The EES Corporation proposes a deal with Skuggs to use his Zygrot-24-powered freak creator to mutate the working class into brainless drones. "It's a whole new master race! And we own the copyright!"
  • Fake Shemp: Mr. T walked off the set a few days before shooting wrapped, so they had to use a stand-in for the Bearded Lady in several scenes, and Lee Arenberg (The Human Flame) had to dub some of his lines.
  • Former Child Star: Ricky.
  • The Freakshow: The setting for the film.
  • Funetik Aksent: Everything Skuggs writes is spelled like it sounds. He calls his freak show 'Freek Land', featuring the 'Humin Werm' and 'Dawg Boy.' Even the 'enter' button on his keyboard is labeled 'ENTUR.'
  • Gender Bender: The Bearded Lady, played by Mr. T.
    • And Skuggs, who turns into Skye Daley.
  • Granola Girl: Julie.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Stuey takes out the RastafarEyes by tossing a handful of dirt at them, which works pretty well for a creature that's 90% naked eyeball.
  • The Hyena: The Laughing Man.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Nothing can [literally] break Stuey Gluck, and an awful lot of things try to.
  • It's All About Me: Ricky.
  • Jerkass: Ricky.
  • Karmic Transformation: Skuggs mutates the EES executives into a giant shoe. A giant, moaning flesh shoe.
  • Large Ham: Keanu Reeves (yes, seriously) as Ortiz.
  • Left the Background Music On: During the A-Team Montage.
  • Made of Plasticine: In one scene, an enraged Rick pulls off a man's head like it's a wine cork, even with the appropriate accompanying sound.
  • May Contain Evil: Zygrot-24.
  • Mega Corp.: The Everything Except Shoes Corporation (EES).
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Having their bodies fused causes Ernie and Julie to take on mannerisms of the other, with Ernie at one point going through menstrual mood swings.
  • Morality Pet: Stuey tries to be this for Ricky, but he's just too much of a Jerkass. Until he finally lets the little troll into his heart.
  • Multiple Head Case: Julie and Ernie get turned into one of these.
  • Mysterious Middle Initial: Elijah C. Skuggs.
  • Oculothorax: The Rastafareyes are literally walking eyeballs. Their pupils act as their mouths.
  • Oh Crap!: Take a look at The Worm's face when everyone else is cheering that the macaroons they ate but he refused held the cure for their mutations.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: All of the freaks attempt to escape by dressing in milkman uniforms. At the same time.
  • Profane Last Words: Toad, the Big Bad's right-hand (toad)man, is silent for the whole movie but mutters "Aw shit" when the heroes blow him up by putting a lit dynamite stick on his prehensile tongue.
  • Pun:
    • The 'Hideous Frog Man' is just a guy in a scuba outfit. Who happens to be French.
    • In a somewhat more obscure pun, there's a pair of Jamaican-accented faceless eyes named Eye and N. Eye.
  • Rule of Funny: Pretty much what the entire film is running on.
  • Running Gag:
    • The clueless protester with a "I like Ike" sign shows up a few times, and in the last one he's impaled with the sign.
    • The Oxford professor that appears during Beast Boy's theatre performance and gets injured a few times. Every time subtitles appear showing his name and occupation.
  • Severely Specialized Store: Everything Except Shoes, of course.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ghost Dude (Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey).
    • The head of the famous horned cyclops appears for a moment during Ernie and Julie's transformation.
    • Stuey has at home a cardboard cutout of RoboDude, that is essentially Coogan's face pasted on RoboCop's body.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Idiot Box, a short-lived sketch comedy show on MTV. The joke at the beginning about the Flying Gimp being destroyed is a reference to a recurring sketch called "Eddie the Flying Gimp from Outer Space."
  • Stylistic Suck: The laughably inept crayon drawing of Ricky's mutated form that Stuey tries to get various news organizations to run. Which still somehow works.
  • Surreal Humor
  • Tabloid Melodrama: When Stuey tries to get the info out on what happened to Ricky, Weekly World News is the only one who takes him seriously and doesn't throw him out of the window (so Stuey throws himself out the window). Somehow, it works, although the police apparently investigated three other stories in the WWN first.
  • Take That:
    • When Skuggs decides to mutate Ricky, Julie and Ernie into freaks, one of the settings on his computer is "Michael Jackson".
    • The fact that Skuggs' fate is to be mutated into Brooke Shields may also count.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: "Macheesmo! Real cheese for real men! Now in a handy aluminum dispenser."
  • Trailers Always Spoil: One trailer shows Ricky and Stuey's final grotesque forms and the EES board being sprayed with Zygrot 24.
  • Two-Faced: Ricky Coogan, after being mutated.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Ortiz is counting on this to get most of the freaks snuck out, but thinks that Ricky dressing like a milkman is just one milkman too many, and a knife fight ensues. Skuggs looks out and does note the unusual number of milkmen — and decides that the knife fight is just because it's a really competitive route.
  • Verbed Title
  • Visual Pun: Skuggs' computer has a mouse that is an actual stuffed mouse.
  • The Voiceless: Toad. He gets one line after accidentally eating a lit stick of dynamite: "Aw, shit!"
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Ernie projectile vomits after seeing Ricky's hideous appearance. Julie tries not to throw up, but couldn't manage.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Stuey, Julie, and many protesters call out Ricky for sponsoring the evil, toxic Zygrot-24.
  • With Catlike Tread: The comical version, where the freaks make plenty of noise when enacting Ricky's plan to stop Skuggs but he fails to notice them. And then someone drops a styrofoam cup.