Freaks

"Good"

Freaks Review


It's one of the most controversial movies of it or any era, and it stands as possibly the only film ever quoted by Lyle Lovett in another movie.

That famous quote is, of course, "One of us! One of us!" (Lyle ommitted the "Gooble gobble" that precedes it.) The movie is Freaks, Tod Browning's bizarre 1932 film that takes place behind the scenes at a circus freakshow.

It's a simple story, told in 62 spare minutes: Wicked Russian trapeze artist Cleopatra marries the freakshow's proprietor Hans (a midget), simply to get his money. With her real boyfriend Hercules (the strongman), they plan to steal his riches and escape the circus life. But Cleopatra (who's otherwise freakless) suddenly snaps during the freaks' initiation ceremony (where the famed lines are delivered), and suddenly runs away. The freaks chase her through the rainy night... when they catch up to her, horrors await.

Director Tod Browning (Dracula, 1931), was a real circus contortionist himself, and he called on his old co-workers to populate the film. There's not a traditional actor among them, just midgets, limbless people, odd-looking types, and a pair of "pinhead" microcephalics (later immortalized in the comics as "Zippy the Pinhead"). There doesn't appear to be much of a script either, just a basic framework of a story upon which random dialogue and scandalous visuals can be laid. The exploitation and presumed horror of these characters led Freaks to be banned in a number of countries after it was released. In Britain it was actually re-rated from "R" to "X" in the 1960s!

Today you can relive the Freaks experience on DVD, though that's a cryptic and somewhat maddening affair. Putting its scandal aside, there's not a lot to Freaks, unlike Dracula, Browning isn't trying to scare you with atmosphere and plot, he's trying to horrify you with shock tactics. That's pretty pioneering for 1932, but modern desensitization to such things (hell, we have Paris Hilton on TV) mutes the freak-out effect almost completely.

The new DVD includes a documentary about the film that's longer than Freaks itself, plus a short bit about the original ending and some of its variants.



Freaks

Facts and Figures

Run time: 64 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 20th February 1932

Distributed by: MGM

Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 43 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Phroso, as Venus, as Cleopatra, as Roscoe, as Hercules, as Madame Tetrallini, as Siamesische Zwillinge, as Siamesische Zwillinge, Schlitze as Schlitze, Josephine Joseph as Zwitter, Koo Koo as Koo Koo, Johnny Eck as der Junge ohne Unterleib, Peter Robinson as das menschliche Skeltett, Prince Randian as der lebende Torso, as Frieda, as Hans, as Armlose

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.