Richard reviews Freaked

Freaked.jpgFirstly I have a big apology to make. I was given the DVD of Freaked starring Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves and Randy Quaid, some time ago to review. Unfortunately it’s been relegated to the bottom of the pile time and time again, not because I didn’t want to watch it, but because of the sheer amount of extras in the two disc DVD.

Now add to that the fact that I’ve lost the contact details of the person who sent me this when my PC crashed and I’m seriously into excuse mode now. So let me shut up and get on with the review…and what a lot to review, this DVD is huge.

Freaked was buried when it was finished. Mainly because the Studio just didn’t like it, and you can see why, looking back to that time it’s a movie that really was pushing some boundaries, and as the writers said during the commentary, they really were left to their own devices on this movie. It also supposedly didn’t test screen well (mind you what decent movie does nowadays?), and so the death bell was tolled. Finally though, through some miraculous and persistent fans, as well as the creators themselves, it has been given the special treatment on DVD, and what a treatment.

The film’s story is not really that important, but it’s an everyday tale of falling in love and finding redemption in your life. Just via a subplot about being turned into the most hideous and bizarre freak creatures by a strange chemical and an evil genius funded by an equally evil company intent on taking over the world. Yeah…anyway!

There are some notable surprises in this movie from the go get, and that’s mainly the reuniting of the three guys from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, yes I did say three. Bill, Ted and the Grim Reaper, in the forms of Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves and William Sadler. Winter plays the lead, the slimey Hollywood actor who’s just in it for the money and the girls, Sadler the company exec who exploits him just as much, and Reeves plays…well…a half man, half dog creature, and you know what? He’s really good at the role!

There are other surprises in the cast with Brooke Shields, Morgan Fairchild and the stunning other big role of the freakshow owner, Randy Quaid.

The movie’s bizarre. Totally bizarre. Following in the vein of joke filled movies such as Airplane, but lacking their pacing, where jokes would be big and built up. In Freaked I found that the jokes were constant, and although they were funny, there was no time to level out and build the humour back up again, consequently I found myself not in hysterical laughter, but giggling and the laughs getting smaller. It’s something one of the writers Tim Burns comments on during the extras.

Don’t get me wrong though, there are some very funny moments like the thirteen milkmen and their fighting, Mr. T as a bearded lady, the towel joke and the beautifully delivered line…”Styrofoam cup”.

That leads me nicely onto the excellent performance from Quaid. He’s superb and screen consuming in this role, he looks perfect for it, and seems to have captured the character without flaw. It’s almost as if he’s revelling in the character. For his role alone it’s worth watching the film.

Presented: 1.85:1
The picture is fine, not overly sharp but then there’s nothing noticeably negative about it. However the colouring is very reminiscent of the time with harsher, bolder colours throughout and the reds and brighter colours higher on the contrast.

Presented: DD2.0 \ DD5.1
The audio is good, there’s no overly big use of the channels, but there is some directional sound and in a comedy like this you’re more apt to be laughing than noticing the unique audio track around you!

Presented: Disc 1: Audio Commentary with Alex Winter and Tom Stern, Behind the Scenes footage, Video interviews with Tim Burns, Deleted Scenes, Art Gallery, Screenplay, Trailer
Disc 2: Full length movie rehearsal, Video script readings, Creature Footage, Set Construction Footage, Winters Make up transformation, Two Winter\Stern short movies

Now you have to admit that is great value, just for the audio commentary and the full rehearsal alone. How does it fare for watching though? The Commentary is good, it’s insightful and interesting. Some interesting topics are Mr. T’s walk off and the whole story behind the Studio dropping the movie, the two are surprisingly pragmatic about it all. They also discuss the actors and their roles, and talk through a lot of the filming and the process on set. Altogether it’s quite thorough.

Burns turns out to be quite a funny man, his dry wit is something I took to immediately, and he’s engaging in front of the camera. With his various conversations and outtakes you can find out some more interesting thoughts on the movie and the writing process. It’s a shame he wasn’t in on the commentary itself.

The deleted scenes are, well, deleted. You can watch them here, but there’s not much that adds to the movie, although the Wheel of Fortune moment is quite good.

I was surprised by how interesting the full rehearsal was. The picture and sound aren’t that great having been filmed on a handheld, but seeing the actors that you may have held on a pedestal (or at least a higher step than your milkman) are suddenly quite human, and seeing the process in the rehearsal shows you some of the reality of this mystical art of acting. It’s interesting seeing how easily these guys are in and out of character. It also made me appreciate some of the other comic moments more than I did when I watched the original movie.

The early script readings are, by comparison, dull and repetitive. Something the DVD could well have done without. Winter’s makeup tests are quite interesting, if not to see the complex process he went through, and to see him act Richard the Third in costume!

Finally the short films are very interesting, and totally unexpected, especially from what you would expect from Winter. Coupled with Stern you can see some moments of inspiration in the first short which I actually enjoyed watching.

Freaked is a funny and absurd movie, perhaps not in the laughter league of Airplane, but very close indeed. With an extra packed DVD offering it makes for a great watch, not only for the audio commentary but mainly for the full rehearsal filmed from beginning to end of the script. I enjoyed watching this, and there’s enough material here for a few enjoyable repeat watches of the movie as well as enough extras to keep you entertained for an evening or two.

IMDB UK movie details
My voting history on UK IMDB

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