When "Freaked" was released in 1993, its fate seemed sealed: The film would largely go unnoticed, a mere cinematic blip left to languish on the cult shelf at the local video-rental shack.
But when the DVD format came along, forgotten films and TV programs soon began to breathe new life. "Freaked" is among those resuscitated, and its DVD edition comes with a surprisingly robust package of extras that would seem extravagant on the box of a much bigger movie.
"Freaked" tells the story of movie star Ricky Coogan, played by Alex Winter, a talent most famous for his portrayal of Bill S. Preston in the iconic "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure." Ricky signs on with a chemical company to be the spokesperson for Zygrot-24, a controversial new fertilizer. En route to Santa Flan, a South American city named for the Patron Saint of Creamy Desserts, Ricky is sidetracked by a visit to a freak show. There, he meets Elijah C. Skuggs (Randy Quaid), Freek Land's villainous proprietor, who turns Ricky into the ultimate abnormality.
Ricky is joined by an all-star cast of fellow freaks, including Bob Goldthwait as a man with a tube sock for a head, Mr. T as a bearded lady and Keanu Reeves as Ortiz the Dog Boy. By the time two machine-gun-toting Rastafarian eyeballs show up, they hardly seem surprising.
The set's first DVD includes the standards: commentary from the directors (Winter and Tom Stern) and the writers (Stern and Tim Burns); a featurette, "Hijinx in Freek Land"; deleted scenes; and an art gallery.
The sheer volume of extras on the second disc is amazing. It offers "Freaked: The Reehersel Version," a full-length rehearsal of the film with scenes and dialogue that didn't make the final cut, plus early script readings, extra footage of the character Stuey Gluck, video of Freek Land's construction, a feature on Winter's makeup transformation and two shorts by Stern and Winter: "Squeal of Death" and "NYU Sight & Sound Project."
These extras greatly add to the film's enjoyment. Unlike the tacked-on material on many big-budget Hollywood discs, this package is designed for the die-hard fan. And while "Freaked" may not have had a lot of die-hard fans to begin with, it's going to have many more now.
Anchor Bay Entertainment; DVD $19.98; rated PG-13; available Tuesday
New on DVD:
Million Dollar Baby (Warner Home Video: two-disc DVD $29.95; rated PG-13; available Tuesday) Clint Eastwood directed and stars in the 2004 Academy Award powerhouse that also featured award-winning performances by Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. This two-disc set includes a roundtable discussion with Eastwood, Swank, Freeman and James Lipton. "Born to Fight," a documentary featurette, explores parallels between the film and the life of boxer Lucia Rijker. And the film's producers give a glimpse of the film's production in a behind-the-scenes featurette. A three-disc deluxe edition of the film also is available and features an audio CD of the film's soundtrack ($39.98).
A Very Long Engagement (Warner Home Video: two-disc DVD $29.95; rated R; available Tuesday) Audrey Tautou reunites with "Amelie" director Jean-Pierre Jeunet in this tale of a young woman's relentless search for her fiancee, who has disappeared from the trenches of World War I. The set includes an audio commentary track by Jeunet, deleted scenes, making-of materials, a documentary on Paris in the 1920s and a documentary featurette on Zeppelin explosions. The film is in French with subtitles.