Freaked (originally titled Hideous Mutant Freekz) is a 1993 American comedy film, directed by Tom Stern and Alex Winter, and written by Stern, Winter and Tim Burns. All three were involved in the short-lived MTV sketch comedy show "The Idiot Box", and Freaked retains the same brand of surrealistic and absurdist humor as seen in the show.
Originally conceived as a low-budget horror film featuring the band Butthole Surfers, Freaked went through a number of rewrites, eventually developing into a black comedy set within a sideshow, which was picked up by 20th Century Fox for a feature film. After several poor test screenings and a change in studio executives who then found the film too "weird", the movie was pulled from a wide distribution and only played on a handful of screens in the United States.
Hideous Mutant Freekz was conceived around the time Winter and Stern had directed 1988's Bar-B-Que Movie, a short film starring and featuring the music of experimental rock band Butthole Surfers. Winter, Stern and Surfers frontman Gibby Haynes began work on the first draft of the script, envisioning it as an obscene, ultra-violent horror film once again featuring the Butthole Surfers, costing around $100,000. The idea was, as Alex Winter put it, "Beach Blanket Bingo meets The Evil Dead". The two fished the script around to various studios for years, but to no avail.
Following the end of production on Stern and Winter's MTV sketch comedy show The Idiot Box, staff writer Tim Burns was recruited to join the two in a number of rewrites. The film was completely revisioned, dropping the aspect of the Butthole Surfers entirely and turning it into a full comedy in the vein of the Monty Python and MAD Magazine-inspired humour that was present in The Idiot Box.
Winter and Stern pitched the idea to 20th Century Fox. Joe Roth, the head of the studio at that time, loved the idea and offered the two a twelve million dollar deal to direct it, despite the fact that neither of them had any experience directing a major Hollywood film and had never even shot on 35mm film before. The only condition was that the film had to be rewritten and toned down to fit a PG-13 rating; therefore, most of the profanity was written out of the final draft to fit MPAA standards. Within a month of being picked up, the film began production.
The studio had such high expectations for the film that they released a number of products based on it, including a line of action figures, a novelization and, most notably, a comic book released by Hamilton Comics (however, since the comic was drawn before most of the casting was completed, none of its characters look anything like their real-life counterparts).