A good midnight movie is surprisingly tough to make: The intentionally bizarre all too quickly slides into the obnoxiously smug. Luckily, Alex Winter—Bill of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and star and codirector of the scrappy gross-out comedy Freaked (PG-13)—understands Stoopid Movie Rule No. 1: No jokes are too idiotic if you throw enough of them at the screen. With gags ranging from a bearded lady played by Mr. T to the cinema's first flashback by a common household hammer, the movie stuns you into a state of giddy delirium.
The plot, such as it is, filters fright classics like Island of Lost Souls and Freaks through the sardonic silliness of Wayne's World. Winter plays Ricky Coogin, preening star of the hit film Ghost Dude. Hired to shill a new pesticide by the Everything Except Shoes Corporation, he travels to the country of Santa Flan and is kidnapped by a carny-show owner (Randy Quaid, looking like a dissolute Colonel Sanders) who's creating his own line of designer freaks. Ricky gets halfway turned into a large, pustulant Gremlin, at which point Freaked jackknifes into a twisted variant on great-escape flicks.
Look, if you want art, go to The Age of Innocence. Freaked is more interested in reveling in yucky makeup and spewing out one junky riff after another. The hit-to-miss ratio is pretty high, too: This is a movie that starts with the unexplained news bulletin ''The Great Flying Gimp has been defeated,'' ends with a talk-show host played by Brooke Shields being revealed to be a carnivorous mutant, and features giant, mobile Rastafarian eyeballs with machine guns somewhere in the middle. That's already more laughs than a month of Saturday Night Lives. B
from "Freaks" (1932)
Keanu Reeves plays "Cowboy"
short directed by Tom and Alex