Friday, September 28, 2012

Freak of the Week: "Freakshow" (1995)

The wooden Gunnar Hansen is a freakshow operator who gives a final show for an arrogant teen and his new girlfriend. Hansen trots out his "exhibits," and tells the tale behind each of them, as we are treated to one of the worst horror anthology films of all time. I am dragging out the spoilers for you, because I want you to know what you will be missing:

The first story involves a self involved man who dumps his girlfriend. He brings over some money for an abortion for her, and meets her evil witch sister. The girlfriend has killed herself, but the evil witch sister has delivered the baby anyway. The baby is a hideous monster (or a terrible special effect, neither are effective) that eats the terrified dad...nice, huh?

The second story has a young boy being adopted by some backwoods types who turn out to be werewolves.

The third story takes place in the 1800's, and involves a mummy who is the prized possession of the local eccentric scientist. It is Halloween, and the eccentric scientist brings the mummy to a party to unveil it. The mummy possesses the cute niece of the hostess and she decides to let the young man in the house know she likes him by pulling his organs out while he is still alive.

The fourth story is about an ugly carnival freak who pays a grocery delivery guy $10,000 to change bodies with him through black magic. The now rich guy goes on a spending spree, but is killed during the incantation, and must reside in his new hideous form, looking for someone to trade bodies with.

By now, the arrogant teen has been duly unimpressed by the stories and freaks. Same with this reviewer. The final kicker involves his new girlfriend, who is Hansen's daughter...or should I say daughters, since she has her twin sister growing out of her stomach. Cue screaming and fade to black.

When a horror anthology works on film, like "Tales from the Hood," it can be wonderful. When it fails, it can be a chore to sit through. All of the stories here run about ten minutes too long, each. This thing is over an hour and forty five minutes, and it seems twice as long. There is no suspense, and there are better special effects on a 3-D Viewmaster disc. The actors here are what you might consider "local" as everyone either over emotes, or delivers their lines as if seeing them for the first time. I swear in some scenes Hansen was reading his neverending speeches off of cue cards.

There is a cheap air to this that starts with the opening scene and never lets up. Sure, you can be brave and try to sit through this, but consider yourselves warned. "Freakshow" is just that and worse. (*) out of five stars.