Friday, October 24, 2014

The 13 Days Of Halloween:
Freaks (1932)

Tod Browning was one of the most gifted silent directors, with films like THE UNHOLY THREE and THE UNKNOWN to his credit when he was hired to direct DRACULA - which became a massive hit. His follow up movie pretty much ended his career. FREAKS was his pet project, a story that takes place in a carnival freak show and starred actual freaks. Even though this was a pre-code movie (no censorship or ratings existed for films) the studio demanded that it be cut and cut and cut... and the version released was too disturbing for the audience at the time. The film was officially banned in England and unofficially banned in the United States (MGM locked it away) until the late 60s, early 70s when the legend of the film resulted in some prints and a midnight showings... and a new audience. I saw it sometime in the late 70s, and it was most disturbing.

A Fan Made Trailer...

The film is now part of our culture - the "Gobble-Gobble One Of Us" scene pops up in everything from SOUTH PARK to DePalma's SISTERS. Interesting that DePalma was inspired by the film for SISTERS because the story has some similarities to CARRIE which he would also direct...

The freak show for a travelling carnival are like a family - they all watch out for each other. The film shows you the every day life of the freaks - and it's fascinating. The Human Torso - a guy with no arms or legs - lights his own cigarette. Armless woman uses her feet as hands. The Siamese Twins date. When hot trapeeze artist Cleopatra learns that midget Hans is rich, she seduces him, marries him... and then slowly poisons him so that she can inherit his fortune and run away with the Strong Man. Only, what you do to one of the Freaks, you do to all... and they may seem harmless, but they get their revenge for being abused by Cleopatra and the Strong Man.

One of us...

Like CARRIE, the film is a slow build to a big finish when they get their revenge... but that end is the stuff of nightmares!

- Bill

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1 comment:

Richard J. McKenzie said...

I also saw it long ago, perhaps on CREATURE FEATURES.

Check out the Ramones song 'Pinhead'. "Gabba gabba, we accept you, we accept you, one of us."

Once you've seen FREAKS you're never the same again.

Hope you're over that dastardly cold.

DIAL M FOR MURDER shows this Sunday, 10/30 on TCM.

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