For all of Halloween-themed October, ComicsVerse is creating magic. By magic, we mean analyses of Halloween films, shows, music, and anything else we can find. If you want to keep posted on the newest and greatest content in this particular series, you can check it out here. Stay tuned for more ComicsVerse series coming your way, Spoopy Ghostoween and beyond! Now, let’s talk about FREAKS OF NATURE!

Come one, come all fans of horror and gore. The Misfits showed their concoction of horror and punk last time, and we do the same thing today. Multiple genres of horror mix together as The Unseen Horror looks into the insanity of 2015’s horror-comedy FREAKS OF NATURE.

The Plot

FREAKS OF NATURE takes place in Dilford, Ohio, home of the Riblet (a McRib knockoff made of flavored horse cartilage). Dilford’s populace consists of humans, vampires, and zombies. The three populaces co-exist on a series of rules — zombies and vamps receive government brains and blood, zombies wear shock collars, and vamps only feed on those who give permission.

The fragile peace shatters when aliens invade, and the three factions go to war with each other. The only hope lies in a human (Dag), a vampire (Petra), and a zombie (Ned) working together to uncover the aliens’ plans, save their town, and discover the secret of the Riblet.

The Writing

FREAKS OF NATURE sounds like a SyFy channel movie. However, the writers show much more commitment than the writers of SHARKNADO. The movie often appears to forget essential details, but always corrects itself. For example, vampires seem to exist in daylight with no visible burns.

This seems a mistake, but we later learn the vampires have a special sunblock that allows them to survive. The film manages to keep almost everything in check, showing that it does know its material (especially in the twisted all-American town we get).

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The film shows understanding of the story, as well. The story allows plenty of time to indulge in the glee of its absolutely insane premise, especially during the battles between the factions of townspeople. The opening alone shows us the kind of insanity we are in for.

We land right into the middle of the madness, but then the film pulls us back in time. We learn exactly how and why all this happens, with a promise of blood and mayhem to keep us engaged. The writers show intelligence by promising a good gory time, but make us earn it too. The violence feels more satisfying, and we get more invested in the best part of the film — the cast.

The Characters

A story is only as good as its characters, and FREAKS OF NATURE draws on a strong supporting cast. Dennis Leary, Patton Oswald, Joan Cusack, Bob Odenkirk, and Keegan Michael Key appear in minor roles and perform flawlessly. Leary exudes sleaze as the owner of the Riblet plant, but the film gives him some sympathy since the town will not accept him despite his contributions.

Key channels his “Substitute Teacher” character to create a frustrated vampire educator (imagine teaching for 97 years). Cusack and Odenkirk work perfectly as Dag’s overly accepting hippie parents. Vanessa Hudgens appears as high school “free spirit” Lorelei, as well. She does fine, but it is clear she is trying to escape her Disney Channel past here.

Trying VERY hard

The film thrives thanks to its three leads. We see that they have little binding them together at first, so the film works by showing us their growing relationships. The actors mesh well together, and the slow growth adds a BREAKFAST CLUB-style touch. It helps that the characters all fit their respective factions perfectly.

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Dag wants to be accepted and cool. However, he ignores that Lorelei is leading him on for her own benefit (much like how humans are just a food source to vamps and zombies). Ned suffers from an uncaring family and social life, so he becomes a zombie merely because they have lost the ability to care.

In other words, he chooses to become a literal zombie to become emotionally dead. Petra gives into vampire sex. Her “maker” abandons her afterward, and her new fangs mark her. This uses the metaphor of vampirism as sex perfectly, far better than similar romantic fare like TWILIGHT. It is also telling that Petra’s arrogant maker looks like Robert Pattison.


FREAKS OF NATURE: Final Thoughts

FREAKS OF NATURE blends high school drama, monsters, and gore to create an entertaining and sometimes moving story. The cast, whether lead or supporting, perform well, and the story holds together despite plenty of potential flaws.

Fans need an open mind to enjoy all of the madness here, but the film delivers for those who do. This is a gory, funny, and even touching story that deserves a watch.

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