An update on <em>Freaky Flickers</em> An update on <em>Freaky Flickers</em>
CGIFeature Film

An update on Freaky Flickers

Remember this?

Last year we posted a link for a new animated film called Freaky Flickers. Recently, Brew reader Joshua Bell decided to check the site again for any updates. What he saw wasn’t pretty.

The writer/director/animator of this mess, Cary Howe, posted the story of how his producing partners ripped him off. (The site died a week ago and Josh had to use Google to catch the links). Here’s the opening:

“This is the sad tale of how a landmark film was born and died. Late 2005 I began early tests for a possible TV series based on the Freaky Flickers toyline. By February 2009 the project had expanded to a 90 minute theatrical feature. We had a 2,800+ theater release with MGM and it seemed like nothing could stop us.

“On 6/9/09 I finished my night’s work at 12 noon. Exhausted I wished my “friend” David Kann good night/afternoon and went to bed leaving him editing in my living room. I put in ear plugs to drown out the noise of the render boxes in the next room and fell asleep. I awoke just before 8pm to a silent dark empty house. Mr. Kann and the equipment were gone as were the external hard drives with the project back ups. While I slept, my business associate Peter Gantner… took everything. What made the Freaky Flickers film so unique is that it was written, directed, modeled, animated and rendered by one person with a final budget of around 250K. A first for a major theatrical release. As I write this the film is in the hands of the lawyers but the odds of it ever seeing the light of day are near zero. I entered the business in 1979 and after my experience with Freaky Flickers I can’t see myself ever making another film. On 6/9/09 not only did a film die but a career and a hundred plus unmade films passed.”

The whole sordid story is posted here. If you think the trailer above is horrid, check the footage posted on their official website.

MGM was going to release this crap? Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • TheGunheart

    It’s weird…very weird.

    On the one hand, I’m glad that this piece of crap will never see the light of day.

    On the other hand, the story of exactly WHY strangely upsets me. I just hope he’s making it up.

  • That post just popped into my head the other day. I was thinking, “I wonder what happened to that awful-looking cartoon that made no sense…”

    I feel bad for him, not because of getting “ripped off,” but because it sounds like he actually, truly believed in his “film” and had no idea what he was making was so terrible.

  • Jared Pettitt

    You kind of have to feel bad for the guy. As bad as this trailer may seem, he really must have put a lot of work into this. Unfortunately he’s also deluded himself to the point of being unable to judge the quality of his own work.

  • James

    i for one have a hard time believing that this was even optioned by MGM let alone promised a release date. I have seen things that had way more potential not even get looked at by an executive. This trailer/film (though no doubt a labor of love if truly created by one man) is overshadowed by older generation video games and comes no where close to being able to hold up to today’s portable devices.
    I have a feeling that someone told this person exactly what they wanted to hear until they could no longer perpetuate the lie. sorry that your film got stolen but it seems like this is a much less embarrassing way to go through the whole ordeal.

  • Mudron

    I was one of the people to poke the most fun at the Freaky Flickers movie, but you can’t help but feel for the guy after you’ve read his whole side of the story.

  • Extreme but necessary steps had to be taken to prevent this for the good of the world.

  • TheMix

    Good riddance, indeed.

    This is truly the definition of “godawful”.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    At least the legal dept. made sure the world was spared seeing this abomination! Thank you legal system!

  • stew

    Future cult classic, wonderful stuff, I love it.

  • This doesn’t pass the smell test. When everything churns through the lawyers/courts, I’ll bet we’ll hear about incompetence and theft on a Gizmondo scale.

  • I don’t believe this was ever going to be released. I suspect somewhere buried in here, someone was scamming someone else. A modelmaker was given the job of single-handedly writing, directing and animating a feature film going to 2,800 screens? And they got him a computer and a bloke to help with editing? Doesn’t exactly sound right.

    Someone had money to launder or a spend target to meet or something.

    Do the toys even exist? I can find articles on the movie, articles on this huge gaming fad sweeping america (from 2005) but what I can’t find is one place actually selling any of these Freaky Flicker things.

  • wow, good to see they carried their high standards through to their website

  • While I agree that I probably wouldn’t be rushing out to see this film if it had come out in theaters, no one deserves to have their work stolen out of their home no matter what the quality. Maybe I can’t bring myself to shed tears over the fact that I’ll never be able to see “Freaky Flickers” in its entirety and I probably wouldn’t have cared in the least had it simply lost funding or been buried by its distributor. But I still can’t help but feel for the guy who was working on this thing for four years onlyy to have the results of his work never see the light of day for the most slimy and underhanded of reasons.

  • joe

    was it going to be in the 3D Experience?

  • From the whole story link I’ve picked this:
    “I was by this point animating, lighting and rendering around 1.5 minutes on a good day, nearly 2 minutes on an excellent day.”

    How – in the name of God – this would ever turn up in something acceptable?

    I don’t know, but I think David Kann – while upsetting Cary Howe – has made a big favor to everyone who loves animation.

  • Well you kinda have to feel sorry for the guy. Kinda. No one deserves something like that to happen to them. But I guess he should have been more careful with his money.

  • This thing has to be a lie, it gave me diarrhea! Honest to God I’m not kidding, my stomach is actually churning in a most horrible way. The part where he’s so sad about it makes me think this is just a big practical joke! Let’s laugh it off.

  • Strangest part is that I wish there were more websites that showed this so more people would understand our collective disgust.

  • As terrible as it looked, I will always remember the trailer for the shark climbing up a palm tree.

  • Mesterius

    Oh… GOD!

    I was actually starting to feel symphatetic for the film’s creator just before I watched some of the footage. I’m not sure, but right now, this feels like some of the worst animation I’ve ever seen. The clip shown when you enter the web site almost made me puke. Seriously.

    Quoted from the sorbid story: “As CG films range mostly in the 80 to 200+ million level imagine a theatrical level film being made for under 300K. I’ve got a secret for you. If the equipment was available from the beginning rather than at the end it could be made in half the time and for far less money. There’s nothing stopping a couple of people with the right skillsets from making a theatrical feature for the price of a modest house or even a single person making a DVD level film for the price of a modest car.”

    Maybe in theory, there is nothing stopping persons to do that… but in this instance, I’m almost thankful there was. My God…

  • The story of making – and losing – the film sounds way more interesting than the film itself.

  • This story that Joshua’s going though is much more interesting and detailed than the movie he was working on.

    By the ways, MGM was planning to release this?! Maybe he should have sent it out to 20th Century Fox, they’ll release anything.

  • -Ah, smoo. I made a mistake on my earlier comment. I meant to say “This story that CARY’s going though is much more interesting and detailed than the movie he was working on.” Instead I mentioned Joshua Bell.-

  • This is a joke, folks. I can’t believe how naive you are. No way anybody could consider this an actual film. Turning doorknobs move better than this “film”. Somebody is having what he or she considers a good larf.

  • fishmorgjp

    “90-minute feature”? “2,800+ theater release”? I’m sorry this guy was given the finger… but it looks like somebody was being sold a big bill of goods.

  • Ryan

    True that, it could make for a good documentary, directed by Werner Herzog or something.

  • FP

    The “story” of the film’s abduction sounds like garbage. Examine it as if you were a cop. There are too many seriously stinky details. I’m familiar with producing obscure things on shoestring budgets – things that have actually been broadcast and seen video release. Nothing about the Freaky Flickers adventure sounds right.

  • chdr

    At least nothing of value was stolen.

  • There are good films that can’t find distribution. There is no way that MGM was going all out for a Flippy Freakers (or Flooky Frockers or Frumpy Fackers) release. The creator of this mess is at best delusional and at worst deranged.

  • Liam Scanlan

    I am shocked. I thought the bad animation and the crazy characters made this film funny. It’s so bad it’s good, as they say. I’m sorry the film suffered a fate similar to The Thief and the Cobbler. I can’t believe Peter Gartner and his lawyers seized it. Here’s to hoping a higher-quality version of this film gets made. The Thief was high- quality and a lower-quality version with Korean animation and Aladdin-esque songs was made. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Such a pity.

  • Makinita

    thank God this thing was stolen and burned in the back of an alley ..oops i said 2 much ..hehehehe

  • Tina

    They released crap like Rock-a-Doodle and Quest for Camelot. Why not release this??!!!

  • tgentry

    Please, please, please keep the followups on this coming CB. This sounds like it has the makings of an amazing movie, no joke. There were some definite scams going on here, from who remains to be seen. There’s no WAY IN HECK this would ever be released on 2000+ screens by MGM. Either that guy was scammed or he was scamming someone else (he raised 250k for this?). The whole elaborate, dramatic, highly detailed story sounds a bit like “the dog ate my homework”. I wonder if it’s a cover to the investors, or if there were investors, or this entire thing is all in the head of this one person. Cartoon Brew: Please get to the bottom of this!

  • Joe

    Um Rock-a-Doodle and Quest For Camelot had some really awesome character designs. And some really amazing animation. To say they were crap, clearly proves you know nothing about animation.

  • Phil K

    Why do you torture us Jerry?

  • That trailer is one of the most offensive things I’ve ever seen. But I agree with Gagaman, that scene with the shark bouncing up the palm tree is pretty memorable.

    “I no longer have access to the edit so I can’t post excerpts so the trailer and teaser will have to show the potential.”
    I can’t imagine someone saying that with a straight face.

  • Weird story.

    To really sell that you’ll need to add the part where he’s missing a kidney when he wakes up.

    Here’s how it might have happened…

    Consider that MGM today is mostly just a P.O. box not a real studio. SO…anybody could be making decisions there, possibly a quite uninformed anybody.

    They get shown some above average sample footage, they get shown a script that makes borderline sense, they get told how “Hoodwinked” was very basic too but made $50 M…

    The also get told how some other toy-based “features” did well, they get spun about the built-in audience for “Freaky Flickers” and how all the kids love them. It’s a can’t miss deal!

    They book the film, god knows MGM doesn’t have a lot going on these days,so they need it, and they were probably expecting the digital theater projection changeover to be completed by now to get them 2000 screens with no film prints.

    It could happen.

    But I can’t imagine working on a solo feature film for 4 years for only $250 K. I wonder what his contract looks like.

    What would be the advantage to anyone to spirit the film away now? If MGM didn’t want to release it now, I’m sure they have enough clauses in their contract to cancel anything they want. If they were involved at all.

    What would be the advantage to his coworkers to take the film now? It seems to be not worth taking. Maybe they just sold the renderfarm?

    Weird Story.

  • Chris Sokalofsky

    I have to mention that this has a very similar feel to that kung fu ripoff that was posted a few days ago, in the fact that this very strongly feels like another hoax. There’s no way that someone actually believed this film was released, and I’m positive that this was a gag.

  • “There’s nothing stopping a couple of people with the right skillsets from making a theatrical feature for the price of a modest house or even a single person making a DVD level film for the price of a modest car.”

    No, there is nothing stopping a single person… It didn’t stop Nina Paley or Bill Plympton.

  • Addendum: My first impression of this story was based solely on reading what was written about it here. Now I’ve sat down and read the full story. In part my impression is unchanged; it’s a really rotten thing to do to an animator to take off in the middle of the night with the project and the computers and leave nothing but a letter explaining what happened. And the movie does not look very good. The full story does mention that nothing the animator has is final, which likely includes this footage, but as far as I can tell, nothing short of tossing out every bit of animation in the trailer and starting from scratch would bring this up to par with other theatrical CG releases. (He writes “pare” a lot where I think he means “par.” The other conclusion that I’ve come to is that this guy made some really poor decisions for reasons that I don’t quite understand. I don’t know if any of the animators I know would ever put themselves into serious debt and risk their ability to put a roof over their heads to be co-owner of a theatrical feature based on a toy line that, so far as I know, is not yet available in stores, with no guarantee that the film is going to be a box office success. I can’t say for certain why this guy decided to go ahead with this risky plan: whether he was just naive or he was so enamored of his own work that he thought it couldn’t possibly fail, or that he really did believe that “Freaky Flickers” would show other aspiring filmmakers that a theatrical CG film made on a small budget could compete with the big studio movies and that his film would be remembered as the start of a revolution in animated filmmaking. But even from his own account, this whole idea seems to have so many problems – not the least of which is that I doubt the horse could even see the cart anymore it had gone so far ahead – that I’m hard pressed to explain what kept him sinking his own money into a movie that could well have flopped, even if it did get a theatrical release.

    There are plenty of stories in the history of animation of artists getting ripped off. This one feels more like a cautionary tale all around, not just about how there are unscrupulous people out there, but about the need to beware of deals that seem too good to be true and not to start believing your ow hype.

  • Mesterius

    Even if Rock-a-Doodle and Quest for Camelot had great character designs and animation, I’d say it would be more than possible to call them “crap” (out of personal taste, of course) from a story and directorial point of view. Good animation can only go that far if the story/direction is bad.

  • Tom Heres

    Joe, I’ve seen good performances and nice costumes in some terrible live action movies. Those are still terrible movies. A bad design or a fantastic sequence of animation in a terrible movie can’t make the movie anything more than a waste of that great work.

  • Jason


    I…I couldn’t even finish watching that..that…SPEW.

    My GOD! I can’t even feel sorry for the guy who got ripped off! He should thank his lucky stars it was stolen and hopefully burned and its ashes strewn with salt!

    This makes that awful Panda thing look like Fantasia! *gag*

    Those “characters” resemble those awful ugly balls of rubber with faces on them that some fiend sold to little kids. Is that what they are? Or are the ball-bodies used as a means to easier cheaper animation?

    I’m…I’m horrified. At the waste of money, at the very least. I never thought I’d feel grateful to lawyers, but you go, barrister thieves. Generations of sensitive psyches will be forever grateful to you.

    I need a beer…

  • Jason

    BTW, Joe, I always felt that Rock-a-Doodle had an interesting idea in it: that of a rooster, avatar of day, battling an owl, avatar of night. Kinda cool. But then it got all mixed up with Elvis stuff and was otherwise lame. Too bad. Quest for Camelot…feh. Only the griffin was cool-looking, and he was unfortunately a moron.

  • This story sounds not unlike the story of the animated feature film “Three Suns”, which was being produced by Russia’s FAF Entertainment (now called “Centre of National Film”) between 1999 and 2003. It was about the Chukchi people who live in Russia’s far North-east. One wonderful day in 2003, supposedly when the work was nearly completed, all of the hard drives on all of the servers inexplicably burned up, all of the material inexplicably disappeared and work stopped.

    Some films exist for the purpose of being in production rather than for the purpose of actually being released.

    That said, I’m willing to give the director some slight benefit of a doubt. Maybe he truly was not in on the whole thing and was trying his best. He did say that the animation was all redone after that trailer. Also, it is a quite possible to make a good-looking animated film for $250,000. I believe that that was the budget for “Sita Sings the Blues”? And the computer-animated “We Are the Strange” (which looks very good, though strange) apparently cost its filmmaker just $20,000.

  • Mannix

    If MGM were actually involved, they might have insisted that these people provide their own funding for prints and advertising, knowing how tough that would be, giving MGM an automatic out if they didn’t come up with that loot. These days prints and advertising cost almost as much as any picture, if they are effective. Such a move would have lessened the studio’s financial risk and put the ball squarely in the producer’s court to prove both him and his project real. MGM may now be just a glorified office suite renting space on what was once the 20th Century Fox lot, but they ain’t stupid.

  • Sam

    I think this is a hoax. Somone younger like a animation freshmen made the trailer only, and there is no film…. am I going crazy?

  • Tom D.

    Chris Sokalofsky says:
    “… that kung fu ripoff that was posted a few days ago … There’s no way that someone actually believed this film was released …”

    chris, i saw the panda movie for sale at walmart a few days ago. i think it has been renamed “the prodigy”.

  • Mike Rea

    If you’re looking for the toys, according to the website they can be found in drug stores and dollar stores through-out Ontario Canada.

  • Mark McDermott

    Is there the least possibility this is some viral marketing move for, God knows what, maybe a “mockumentary” on the state of indie CG animation? I mean, this is not “so bad it’s good,” it just seems deliberately bad. Watching the trailer just now, with the new backstory, somehow the words “Blair Witch Project” just sprang to mind.

  • Mark McDermott

    Hmm… Yet there is a completely unhelpful wikipedia page:

    Sounds like the article may have been written by a shill. “The next Beanie Babies” indeed.

  • Sarah

    This is a joke right? Please tell me that I’m not the only one here who can tell that “Freaky Flickers” website is totally bogus?

    Addresses to “Canadian drug stores” to buy these toys don’t really exist. And when I clicked to see their online store it says I have to put in a code ID of some sort. There are so many red flags in the air it’s making my head spin.

    Either this is a not so clever online prank or someone is being or has been scammed.

  • jérôme

    @Mark McDermott : At this point I’m really wondering if these “freaky flickers” even exist… Come on, google image does not find any photo other than those from the “trailer” and the wikipedia page (written by only one guy !) has only one photo with almost no toy appearing on it. And you have to check the photos linked in this page :
    (official material, really ?)

    I think that it’s a big mockumentary or some sort of scam to make people think these non-existent toys exist (I don’t know why).

  • No, there is nothing stopping a single person… It didn’t stop Nina Paley or Bill Plympton.
    or M Dot Strange who less people seem to know about but has also recently made an animated feature and totally independently sold enough DVDs to fund his next one.

  • Sea Captain with no limbs


  • he fell asleep and they took all the gear out of his house? Yeah righto, what if he woke up? This is bogus

  • pss

    Hmm … anyone else see some irony in bagging out the animation in Freaky Flickers when just three posts earlier, people are quite happy to nominate David OReilly a genius?

    In his own words: “Even if animation is technically bad, but consistently bad, it will be coherent and thus potentially believable.”

    Just sayin’…

  • And folks, how is it that no one on this site ever worked on or even remembers “Madballs?” There actually was a toy spinoff series produced by Nelvana. These look incredibly similar, at least the pirate one does.

    The user page for the main author of the wikipedia entry on Freaky Flickers states:
    “Hello, I am The Mystery Burger. I write articles that no one else bothers to. I just created the article for Freaky Flickers, a very crappy toyline made into a very crappy movie.”

    Even if the MGM part were true, it wouldn’t be unusual, I would think, for a studio to suggest they’d get a 2,900 screen opening. The everage movie these days opens on 3,000 screens. If the studio thinks it’s any good.

    There’s an urban legend in the comic book world that you can never create a character named “Flick” or “Flicker” because the inker or the printer might accidentally make the “L” and “I” appear to connect, forming a rude word.

    Another reason I lean toward a scam on someone’s part. This trailer isn’t bad in the Ed Wood “I just want to tell stories” way, it’s bad in the “Killer Tomatoes” “Look how bad we made this movie! Are we a cult classic yet?” way.

  • Jon H

    The freaky flickers on the wikipedia page look like a total rip off of Crazy Bones. I have a bag just like the freaky flickers bag but it says crazy bones.

  • TheMix

    “Not me Pig!!” “Not me Pig!!” “Not me Pig!!” “Not me Pig!!” “Not me Pig!!” “Not me Pig!!” “Not me Pig!!” “Not me Pig!!”

    If anything ever deserved to get Youtube pooped, it would be that line, repeated endlessly.

  • Hmm … anyone else see some irony in bagging out the animation in Freaky Flickers when just three posts earlier, people are quite happy to nominate David OReilly a genius?
    No because there is no irony in that at all. Freaky Flickers looks bad and David OReilly’s work looks good.

    Weird that people think this debacle is some kind of fake or parody! I mean, most of us here are animators or somehow involved in the industry; I can’t be the only one who receives spam proposals about animation projects even more demented, unfeasibly and mutated than this on a daily basis. :) Don’t see any reason to believe this is anything other than the too-common combination of naive and crazy animators and unscrupulous/failing/criminal businessmen.

  • Omnitarian

    Absurd prank? Alternate-reality game?

    I agree that the zany narrative going on here is a million times more interesting than the original.. er… “film”.

  • vveksuvarna

    did i just see the shark climb a coconut tree !

  • I think that Cary’s business associate must be the same Nigerian prince that’s been bugging me with spam since 1998.

  • I cas see a family going to see this movie,after 10 min into movie the kid yells “Mommy , Daddy make it stop” !!!!!!!!!

  • Gio Renna

    I don’t even care if the movie doesn’t look that great.

    Sure the film looked bad. But did it really have to take the company four years to tell him they didn’t like the movie? And did they really have to go about doing it in the way that they did?

    Society is just so screwed up.

  • vzk

    That pig character should become Lowtax’s avatar at SomethingAwful.

  • Shit……Now I can’t get a refund on my tickets…..
    And who’s gonna buy all my collectable merchandise on Ebay…. Damn..

    But seriously, it had to be stopped I couldn’t finish a three minute clip….if I’d seen more of it and was in a theater I’d come out shooting…


  • mike

    I already like it better than “space chimps”

  • Ridgecity

    It’s sad that he got such a weird ending for all this work. It sounds like “The Hangover”.

    I blame James Cameron and Avatar’s release.

  • This trailer is just some early animation of the concept of the movie. Just wait till you see what this film looks like when it is done and released in a theater near you.
    Also no one forced thier way into any ones home and who paid for all the equipment I took back. If some one came in your home and took your equipment and files wouldn’t you call the police?

    • Thomas Paul Jennings

      Did you also steal Foodfight’s hard drives? I would LOVE to know.