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The blog below was under an older name of Hollyweird. I have kept the numbering the same so that I could keep track of my posts, but this is where it all begin back in the heyday of 2012…
You may know Alex Winter. Perhaps not by name, but perhaps by face. Mr Winter’s most prominent role is ‘Bill S Preston Esquire’ in both Bill & Ted films. In fact you must know him; the one that wasn’t tall, dark or impossible for women to resist. The other one. The shorter, blonde one with a wide grin like a demented troll. Alternatively, you may know him from being one of the vampires in The Lost Boys. The, uh, short blonde one. Or from other things where he was quite possibly short and blonde.
But I don’t write these things to be cruel. Oh no. For you see Alex Winter put his physical traits of being both a Hollywood star and also being a bit weird looking to good use. Not to mention perhaps the even slightly more useful skill of being a talented writer and director.
For you see, Alex Winter Esquire was born in jolly old Blighty. Then he shipped over to the States. He went to college. And sure, some stuff probably happened in between all of these moments but I’m not his autobiographer. I’m just a man with film to discuss and with access to Wikipedia. The key point here is that his college room mate was aspiring film maker, Tom Stern, and they began to write and direct together.
Between the two of them, they have written for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, been hired by Kanye West, they have directed music videos for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Butthole Surfers and Marilyn Manson, and (most excitingly for my nieces) been a voice in the Ben 10 cartoons.
OK, so neither Alex Winter nor Tom Stern are household names for their writing or direction. But perhaps if their only film together had been a hit this could all be different….. Behold Alex Winter and Tom Stern’s lost gem, Freaked!
This was the 90’s. This was a time of Alt. Rock soundtracks, constant condom references and colour changing shirts. Freaked is very much of its time in visuals and aural qualities, but it was also somewhat ahead of the game for it’s ‘stoner’ style. Of course actual stoner comedies pre-dated it by quite some time (Cheech & Chong etc), as did ‘throw anything against the wall’ films (Top Secret) and gross out comedies (pick any 80’s Frat movie). But Freaked knitted things together in such a throw-away manner that the whole film seems more like an acid trip-dripping cartoon brought to life.
It’s tough to know if Freaked directly inspired contemporary American comedy writers, but comparisons can be drawn. The unlikeability of The Sarah Silverman Show cast to the insanity of South Park’s plots to the unexplained set up’s of Adult Swim shows to the gross out moments of Family Guy all have an air akin to Freaked.
Freaked is a pretty simple tale of a Hollywood heart throb Ricky (Winter) taking a corporate promotional job in South America. Once there, through a variety if incidents he, his sexist best friend (Blossom’s Anthony. Like I said- very 90’s) and a ecological feminist (the likes of which cropped up a lot in-hmm- the 90’s) are soon lost wandering around a hidden Freak Show run by Randy Quaid. But wouldn’t you know it… the secret to his freak show is that he mutates people! With Ricky destined to become the star attraction, all the freaks decide it’s time to escape…..
In truth some jokes work, some don’t. But they come so thick and fast it’s hard not to laugh every few minutes. Besides which, the cast obviously all relish their parts which gives Freaked a maniacal edge. There’s an old saying that if you have to explain comedy, then it isn’t funny. So rather than detail any more of the film I’m going to recommend it as simply as possible;
- Mr. T is a bearded woman.
- The best Keanu Reeves appearance ever
- Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert get cameos
- Rastafarian Eyeballs carrying Uzi’s
If the above doesn’t make you at least curious, then you’re already dead on this inside. Will it change your world? No. Will it entertain you? Most likely.
A final note re: Alex Winter and Tom Stern is that when Freaked was in production, they were commissioned to script and direct An American Werewolf in Paris. Had Freaked done well, theirs is the sequel that the world would have seen. I have not tread their script- and it’s doubtful anybody could beat the original- but based on Freaked we can at least assume that it would have been a fun sequel, and a DAMN site better than the existing one.
Next time- Sci-Fi? Rock n Roll? Samurai swords? Kung- Fu? It’s like someone cracked my head open and scooped out my dreams!
Thanks for reading.