Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Freakmaker


The Freak Maker (The Mutations) Directed By Jack Cardiff. Starring Donald Pleasence (1973). 
I first became aware of this flick through the trailer on the infamous Mad Ron's Prevues tape under its other title The Mutations. That trailer was very misleading, it had flashes of eyes popping out, barking dogs and little people with knives running through the woods, so I was hesitant when I first checked it out, I wasn't sure what I was in store for. I'd already seen She Freak, David Friedman's sleazy Todd Browning update and expected more of the same.
Welcome to Raul's Wild Monkey Kingdom
   The Freak Maker is extremely British, but not so much that it's dull like an Amicus Studio film, (I defy anyone reading this to watch The Creeping Flesh and not want to claw out their eyeballs out of shear boredom and misery)!
   The always supremely creepy Donald Pleasence plays a warped college professor who lectures about human cloning and Mendelian type genetic mutation (can plants and human's be fused together in a monstrous hybrid)? Basil Kirchin's music score goes from melancholy to goose strangling jazz fusion.
Rock N Roll is a fad, Jazz is where it's at daddio
   While walking though a woodsy path after school, a redhead is stalked by two midgets, one looks like David Warner. It turns out to be a diversion for Lynch, played by Dr. Who actor Tom Baker in an unrecognizable role as a grouchy mutant with gigantism of the face. Lynch is a victim who believes that if he helps the Doctor capture helpless victims for his human experiments, he will pay for plastic surgery (this is my theory and not mentioned in the film).
   The Freakmaker is more original than a straight laced Freaks ripoff, it does have a ghastly cast of authentic human oddities like The Pretzel Boy, Popeye, and The Alligator Lady (who was featured in The Sentinel during the controversial hellmouth segment). There is some Art Clokey style animation mixed in with time lapsed plant footage. In class Donald brings his rotten fruit reverse ray, this apparently is his secret weapon to spawn a human/plant hybrid race (don't ask me how, I've pieced together enough logic where there's very little already in this narrative)!
Pull my fingers
   The film tries to illustrate how the freaks have a sophisticated candor over the college "normies", who go on about an acid trip one of them had, where they saw "Carrot's with human babies faces on them". The college kids come off very juvenile and many of them have yellow candy corn rotten teeth. Pleasence could learn a thing or two from the college experiment lab in Strange Behavior (I mean kids were literally stabbing their friends to get in and make a little fast cash)!
Your eyes look like two cherries in a glass of buttermilk
   There's an obligatory "Loving Cup" homage to the original Todd Browning film during a birthday, as Lynch is razzed by his co-workers for being a sell-out. He drools bucketfuls and when he screams, it reminds me of Vivian from The Young Ones! This episode drives him out onto the big bad city, where he pays a hooker for sympathy. There's a certain amount of empathy that you feel for Lynch because he's being forced to capture victims for the doctor to experiment on, begrudgingly wants acceptance from his own kind and pathetically has to pay a stranger to tell him that she loves him. He's pretty abrasive though, but not as wretched as Cleopatra and the Strong Man from the original Freaks, they seriously deserved the punishment they got in the end. Things start going to hell in a handbasket in the final curtain call and college kids mutate into duck like hybrids as Pleasance fights off his own creations.
Ack! It smells like rancid cabbage
I loved this movie though and welcome any film where they use genuine human oddities and give them a job instead of using fakers and covering them in latex to make it look like the real deal. Hire more freaks, I say and don't be too down on them, because their appearance outwardly reflects the "real" ugliness that we harbor within. The insipid way we condemn each other callously in our daily lives, is an argument that we could learn much from these outcasts.
Highly Recommended!

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