Thursday, April 11, 2013

Freaks (1932)

Today I'm reviewing Freaks, directed by Tod Browning.  A long time ago, people with oddly shaped bodies could find work at circus sideshows, where curious people could gawk at them.  The curious people only see them as exhibits, but this film goes much deeper and we get to know them as regular people. We see these "freaks" make friendships, fall in love, enjoy dinner together, and even celebrate the birth of a child. It is impressive to see a man with no arms roll his own cigarette.
The only monster in this circus is the beautiful trapeze artist, Cleopatra.  She discovers that one of the little people, Hans, stand to inherit a great deal of money, so she decides to marry him and then kill him for his inheritance  When I first saw Hans, I thought 'He is so tiny!' 

So Cleopatra starts going out with him and he shuns his soon-to-be ex-fiancee, Frieda. (She's actually portrayed by his real-life sister, which is rather disturbing.) Cleopatra is welcomed by the other freaks, who are glad to have her as part of the family. They chant, "Gobble gobble, one of us!" She is horrified that they would even consider being at her level. 

The freaks discover she is trying to poison Hans, and go after her one rainy night. It must have been terrifying for her to see several strange beings crawling towards you in the dark, and this movie was made 80 years ago. It's the same way when contortionists crawl along the wall in modern Asian horror films.
I laughed so hard during the ending, when it is revealed what happened to Cleopatra. It is so over-the-top ridiculous. Also, her 'normal' boyfriend who she cheats with while she dates Hans gets his comeuppance too.  Film gets a 7/10.

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