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The Freakmaker

3.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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(Sep 27, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A Frankensteinian twist on Tod Browning's classic FREAKS.

THE FREAKMAKER (aka The Mutations) stars Donald Pleasence (Cul-De-Sac, Fantastic Voyage) as Professor Nolter, a college science professor who believes it is man's destiny to survive an uncertain future by evolving into a hybrid plant/human mutation. To test his theories, Nolter supervises the abduction of young co-eds and fuses them with mutant plants he has developed in his laboratory, placing his rejects in a neighboring freak show (which stars such real-life oddities as the Alligator Lady, the Frog Boy, the Human Pretzel, the Monkey Woman, the Human Pincushion and the unforgettable "Popeye".

Not available on video since the 1980s, this classic also features such cult favorites as Academy Award nominee Tom Baker (Nicholas and Alexandra), Julie Ege (Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires), Jill Haworth (Tower of Evil), Brad Harris (Samson), and the extraordinary Michael Dunn (Ship of Fools, The Wild Wild West's "Dr. Loveless") in one of his final film roles. As with all Subversive releases, THE FREAKMAKER has been painstakingly restored and supplemented with numerous extras for its DVD premier.

"With its cast of 'human oddities', bizarre makeup effects and avant-garde music score, THE FREAKMAKER is a hothouse of horror that will grow on you!" –Tim Lucas, VIDEO WATCHDOG magazine


...A unique cult film that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout its running time. -- cultclash.777mb.com

Subversive Cinema has done an outstanding job with this release. . .definitely a new cult DVD label to watch closely. -- cultclash.777mb.com

Subversive's DVD sports an excellent transfer and plenty of extras that should make fans of the film very, very happy. -- dvdtalk.com

Special Features

  • Audio commentary with writer/producer Robert Weinbach and actor/associate producer Brad Harris, moderated by Norman Hill
  • 2nd commentary with director Jack Cardiff and Norman Hill
  • Featurette: How to Make A Freak: including interviews with Jack Cardiff, Brad Harris, and Robert Weinbach
  • Still gallery
  • Talent bios
  • Trailers
  • Special packaging includes:
  • lobby card reproductions
  • original poster art reproduction
  • reversal jacket with photo montage on the inside cover

Product Details

  • Actors: Donald Pleasence, Tom Baker, Brad Harris, Julie Ege, Michael Dunn
  • Directors: Jack Cardiff
  • Writers: Robert D. Weinbach, Edward Mann
  • Producers: Brad Harris, Herbert G. Luft, J. Ronald Getty, Robert D. Weinbach
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, German
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Subversive Cinema, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: September 27, 2005
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AS1KWE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,744 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Freakmaker" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I first saw this movie in the early 1970s at the Belmont Drive-In in Greenville SC under its original and much better title of THE MUTATIONS. Imagine an updated color version of Tod Browning's FREAKS that borrows its principal plot device from H. G. Wells' THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. Add more than a touch of David Cronenberg style body horror (three years before Cronenberg's first movie) then combine it with the unmistakable look of the British horror films of the time and that will give you some idea of this unique and periodically disturbing film. I had not yet seen the Tod Browning film so the idea of sympathetic carnival oddities was new to me. I did, however, know the plot of DR MOREAU from the 1932 film ISLAND OF LOST SOULS with Charles Laughton one of the creepiest films to come out of the 1930s.

Donald Pleasance nicely underplays the quintessential mad doctor who wishes to create a race of biologically superior life forms that combines elements of both plants and animals. The experiments that don't quite work out wind up as sideshow attractions at a local carnival headed up by a pre-DOCTOR WHO Tom Baker looking for all the world like a tall version of John Hurt's ELEPHANT MAN and dwarf actor Michael Dunn only a few years removed from THE WILD WILD WEST. The rest of the cast of young British talent and a somewhat stiff hero played by Brad Harris fufill their roles in the necessary manner for this type of film which is basically a B movie with a pedigree. That pedigree is director Jack Cardiff, one of the world's greatest cinematographers and an occasional director of fascinating films (THE LONG SHIPS, DARK OF THE SUN, SONS AND LOVERS). His knack for interesting visuals makes this movie a hard one to forget. If only they had kept the original title.
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In 1932 Tod Browning brought the fantastic, Freaks to life. In 1972 Jack Cardiff brought us The Mutations (now re-titled The Freakmaker). The Freakmaker wasn't a big hit at the time but it was fairly controversial-for the same reason 1932's Freaks was controversial. The film features people with real deformities just like Browning's film did. While the film is essentially a retelling of that film, it does bring its own plot elements into the retold story.

PLOT: Donald Pleasance (of Halloween fame) plays a scientist/professor who works at a college and secretly in the carnival. He's obsessed with plants and conducts wild experiments/research. Aiding him in his research is the terribly deformed-Lynch (played by Dr. Who's Tom Baker). Lynch works with doctor because he's made a promise to perform surgery on Lynch to make him 'normal'. So, Lynch abducts locals (mainly from the college) for the twisted experimentation. The doctor takes people and through various 'surgeries' turns them into plant-human hybrids similar to the humanimals in The Island of Dr. Moreau. They're then put on display as sideshow attractions in the carnival. In Lynch's spare time he terrorizes the other carnies and visits hookers. However, the vanishing college kids catches the attention of their friends and the police. Meanwhile the carnival folk begin to turn on their oppressor...

THE FILM: The Freakmaker garnered a decent sized cult following and is considered a cult classic. It was written by Edward Mann and Robert Weinbach. It features the talents of Donald Pleasance, Tom Baker, Brad Harris, Michael Dunn, and Jill Halworth. The film features music by Basil Kirchin and Jack Nathan. Nolter was originally written to be played by Vincent Price.
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Is there any more enduring stereotypical character within the horror genre than the mad scientist with altruistic visions of improving the overall lot of mankind? And they always seem to share the same philosophy of in terms of the `need to break a few eggs to make an omelet', or, the need of the many outweighs the need of the few as an impetus for their actions...The Freakmaker (1973), aka The Mutations, co-written by Edward Mann (Island of Terror, Hot Pants Holiday) and Robert D. Weinbach (Hot Pants Holiday), and directed by Jack Cardiff, whose better know for his cinematography on such films like The African Queen (1951) and Death on the Nile (1978), stars Donald Pleasence (Circus of Horrors, Halloween, Escape from New York) as Professor Nolter, teacher, scientist, and all around first class nutter. Also appearing is Tom Baker (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, "Doctor Who"), Brad Harris (Goliath Against the Giants, King of Kong Island), Julie Ege (The Final Programme, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires), Scott Antony (Dead Cert), Jill Haworth (The Haunted House of Horror, Tower of Evil), Olga Anthony (Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter), and the diminutive (only in size) Michael Dunn, who played Dr. Miguelito Loveless in the 60s television show "The Wild Wild West".

After a brief intro from the director, the film starts proper with about five minutes of footage featuring sped up visuals of plants growing, accompanied by some really odd music. After this we're in a lecture hall where Professor Nolter is discussing mutations, both of the natural and induced kind, along with providing examples in terms of carnivorous plants (there's an exceptionally strong sense of foreshadowing going on here).
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