Last April at Music Box Theatre in Chicago, Alex Winter was our special guest for a special New Cult Canon double-feature of Death Wish 3 and Freaked. It was a tremendously entertaining event: The films (both in pristine 35mm) whipped the audience into a frenzy—Death Wish 3 appeared to bring out the inner reactionary gun nut in everyone—and Winter told some amazing stories about his surreal experiences as a young actor on the DW3 set and as a first-time director on Freaked. (Ask him about the revenge prank they pulled on Mr. T.)
Now, the New Cult Canon debuts in New York with an encore of the Alex Winter event at 92Y Tribeca on Saturday, January 14, beginning at 7:30 p.m. with Freaked and continuing at 10:15 p.m. with Death Wish 3. Winter will be on hand for a Q&A with frequent A.V. Club contributor Alison Willmore on Freaked and will stick around to introduce Death Wish 3. (Ask him about his two big stunt scenes—one with Charles Bronson, the other with him hanging onto a car.) Admissions to both are separate (Freaked tickets are $12 and available here; Death Wish 3 tickets are $10 and available here), but we recommend making a night of it. Both films are tremendously entertaining and Winter is a funny and generous guest.
As for the movies themselves, Freaked is a great discovery, a wonderfully idiosyncratic comedy that was dumped by Fox but embraced by a fervent cult following on home video. Winter stars as Ricky Coogan, a likable spokesperson hired by a company after a toxic chemical tarnishes its corporate image. When Ricky flies down to South American to see the chemical’s effects for himself, he witnesses the bizarre goings-on at a mutant freak farm run by the deranged Elijah C. Skuggs (Randy Quaid). Featuring an eclectic cast—including Brooke Shields, William Sadler, Morgan Fairchild, Bobcat Goldthwait, an uncredited Keanu Reeves, and Mr. T as a bearded lady—Freaked pays homage to everything from Tod Browning’s Freaks to the stop-motion magic of Ray Harryhausen, all while staking out a manically funny tone of its own.
Death Wish 3 is the sublimely insane second sequel to the 1974 vigilante hit and may be the ultimate you-kids-get-off-my-lawn movie, pitting Charles Bronson’s almost superhuman avenger against a band of troublemaking whippersnappers. The New York of Death Wish 3 is like a real-world The Warriors crossed with a paranoid right-wing small-towner’s vision of big-city menace: a gang-infected war zone, lorded over by the cast of Breakin’. It’s crazy, it’s violent, it’s altogether stupefying. And it will make you froth at the mouth like the dog you are.