Freak Out

Starring: James Heathcote, Dan Palmer and Yazz Fetto
Anchor Bay Entertainment UK
RRP: 16.99
Certificate: 15
Available 29 May 2006

A small boy known as Lil' Looney is ridiculed and set-upon by his fellow classmates, tired of his eccentric and annoying ways. He leaves vowing to return in thirteen years to exact his revenge on the school. Precisely thirteen years later, having escaped from a mental institute and evaded capture, he arrives in the small town of Redwater Cove to discover that the school is no longer there. Merv Doody is a horror movie buff who comes across the Looney (wearing a potato sack over his head) in his shower. Rather than being freaked-out himself, Merv hatches a plan, along with his friend Onkey, to turn the Looney into a psycho serial killer. That's easier said than done at first, because the newcomer faints easily, has a high-pitched voice and doesn't even eat meat. However, over time their new creation takes on a life of its own with the spatula being his chosen weapon. How can Merv and Onkey bring to a halt the unstoppable onslaught of murderous mayhem...?

Whether you like this film or loathe it, you've got to allow at least grudging respect for this bunch of English amateurs who have effectively, on a budget of tuppence and a Dolly Mixture, created a horror spoof/comedy. It's often said a rule of creativity is to keep it simple, and that's precisely what's been done here. To dress the Looney a hockey mask is put on top of the potato sack (both were worn by Jason Vorhees in the Friday 13th films - the sack in Part 2 and the mask from Part 3 onwards) and he is dressed in an orange boiler suit (you'll remember Michael Myers wore a dark blue one in John Carpenter's Halloween).

The premise is pretty straightforward too, because the idea here is to have fun. The overall effect is that it does look cheap, but hey, these very determined guys and gals slogged away at this for four years, constantly running out of money and haven't done a bad job at all. John Carpenter had to do the same thing with Dark Star, which he started in film school. The crew of Freak Out also went well out of their way to promote the film at festivals such as Cannes and Montreal, coming away minor heroes. I even gave this release a second try and definitely enjoyed it better the second time around.

I wouldn't say Freak Out is a laugh-out-loud movie, but it does keep you quietly amused. There are a number of humorous set-pieces and one-liners, including when the Looney goes to town on Onkey with an ironing board and iron, a pot of boiling water, an electric egg whisk and a spatula - after meeting him for the first time. Also, the creating of a name for the killer, which should be four syllables: "Ja-son Vor-hees, Mich-ael My-ers ... Lar-ry Hag-man." The acting is pretty good too for initiates. Particularly sparkling is the minor part of Abby, played by Nicola Connell (who surprisingly wasn't the first choice). Her character is smitten with Merv, although he chooses not to notice (Merv must be more Looney than the psycho killer!).

There's loads of extras on this two-disc set, including two multiple commentaries, a "Making of", Music Video, a number of featurettes (some of which are time-wasters), Deleted Scenes and Easter eggs. If you're into horror, comedy or both, give Freak Out a try.

Ty Power

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