Written by Tod Robbins
Directed by Tod Browning
“For the love of beauty is a deep-seated urge which dates back to the beginning of civilization. The revulsion with which we view the abnormal, the malformed, and the mutilated is the result of long conditioning by our forefathers.” – Introduction, Freaks
Tod Browning’s cult film depicting the terrors of sideshow performers, both how they are perceived by the public and the acts of violence they are driven to commit, sets an unusual and intriguing precedent for future horror cinema tropes.
Freaks initially portrays the titular troupe with unique deformities as unsuspecting prey to two of the carnival’s “normal” performers and lovers, Cleopatra the trapeze artist (Olga Baclanova) and Hercules the strong man (Henry Victor). Cleopatra’s plan to marry and murder Hans the dwarf man (Harry Earles) for his large inheritance victimizes the condition of the “freaks,” placing