Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
When I was a teenager, I was vaguely aware of the fact that Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves starred together in a movie that wasn't a part of the Bill & Ted universe, but I didn't know anything about it. I wasn't even sure what it was called. It had fallen off of my radar in the years that followed until the Mahoning Drive-In Theater announced that this movie would be the first Sunday night screening of the 2023 season.
In addition to the movie, the Mahoning hosted a Halfway To Halloween flea market. Even though it rained literally nonstop for the entire day, there were still dozens of vendors who set up shop in little tarp tents at the edge of their vehicles throughout the lot. It felt like I was walking through the merchants stores in a water-themed town of an RPG.
Being the mature middle-aged gentleman that I am, I picked up a Steven Rhodes coloring book with pages that include Let's Have A Seance and My First Knife Fight. I bought a second book from the same author called My Little Occult Book Club, which is like a parody of the Weekly Reader book flyers that we used to get in elementary school in the 80's, but with a dark twist. I'm sure that you'll be seeing more about these in a future post.
We got another souvenir at the front gate. The first 100 cars on the lot received a free limited edition commemorative ticket to tonight's film. I don't mean to pat myself on the back too hard because I'm sure that Sandy had long forgotten that I ever mentioned it, but this was a suggestion that I made two years ago when we first discovered the Mahoning. I hope that they keep doing these for future shows. The banners that they use to advertise their weekends are way too cool to not do something fun with them.
Last, but not least, the poster for last night's event was created by Hayden Hall, who has done quite a few posters for the Mahoning over the years.
As for the movie itself, it was bonkers in all the right ways. It stars Alex Winter as a former child star Ricky Coogin who accepts a $5 million dollar contract to represent the Everything But Shoes corporation in the South American country of Santa Flan (named for the patron saint of creamy desserts). His role in the country is to promote a toxic fertilizer called Zygrot 24, which is banned in every other country. Shortly after landing in Santa Flan, Coogin and his friend Ernie encounter my middle school crush, Megan Ward. Ms. Ward plays an environmentalist named Julie who is protesting against Zygrot 24, but I'll always know her best as the love interest in three of my favorite teen comedies from the 90's: Encino Man, PCU, and Joe's Apartment.
The three end up traveling together to a freak show theme park run by a sadistically insane Randy Quaid, and they soon learn that the stars of this freak show were turned into the freaks that they are today by Quaid and his use of the Zygrot 24 chemical on them. These freaks include Ortiz The Dog Boy (played by an uncredited Keanu Reeves), The Bearded Lady (played by Mr. T, who is in drag throughout the entire film), Sockhead (voiced by Bobcat Goldthwait, but played by a literal hand in a sock with googly eyes on it), and other freaks which include a human worm, a giant nose, a cowboy who is an human cow, a man with a giant nose for a head, and a man who farts fire, among others.
It's a shame that Freaked hasn't found a wider audience because it's a hell of a lot of fun. It's a balls-to-the-wall zany comedy with sight gags and puns that never stop, and it makes absolutely no attempt for you to take it seriously. The movie invites you to unplug from the world for 80 minutes and just let the insanity wash over you.