Friday, October 26, 2012


They say that films from the 1930s were wholesome and clean. Whoever said that clearly never saw any of the horror films from that era. Many of the films from that time period influenced so many films in the decades to come.

That said, there are some that filmmakers don't even dare to top. One such film is Tod Browning's Freaks. The fact that no one had even thought of remaking it shows the film's impact. The fact this was made back in 1932 makes it all the more shocking.

Browning (who directed Dracula the year before) knows how to captivate his audience. How so? Simple: he takes a story commonly found in most films and gives it a surreal take on it. Think of it as Double Indemnity set in the circus.

The most curious factor of Freaks is that the freaks in question aren't the people who allow themselves to be put on display because of their deformities. The freaks are actually trapeze artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) and her strongman lover Hercules (Henry Victor). That's because Browning makes the "freaks" human and glorifies the bad traits within Cleopatra and Hercules. It's a clever move by him.

Freaks is, well, a freaky film. Just watching it shows why it got so much controversy eighty years ago and how it shocks today. Finally, a film Hollywood doesn't even dare to remake. (You never see those nowadays. Never.)

My Rating: *****


  1. That is a great film, but it's insanely disturbing too. It's a shame it kinda ended Browning's career.

  2. 'Wholesome', 'Clean' - the early 1930s? Never!!

  3. Not a remake as such, but there actually was a film made in 1974 called The Mutations which used actual deformed humans as well, albeit in a far more exploitative way than Freaks (the "Mutations" are in fact failed attempts by Donald Pleasance's mad scientist to crossbreed humans with plants, who are then sold to a circus as sideshow freaks). I haven't seen it, but the description and the trailer makes it look like it actually is the bad taste monstrosity people thought Freaks was in 1932.


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