A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star. Then he's captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.
A circus trapeze artist, Cleopatra, takes an interest in Hans, a midget who works in the circus sideshow. Her interest however is in the money Hans will be inheriting and she is actually carrying on an affair with another circus performer, Hercules. Hans's fiancée does her best to convince him that he is being used but to no avail. At their wedding party, a drunken Cleopatra tells the sideshow freaks just what she thinks of them. Together, the freaks decide to make her one of their own. Written by
Although production chief Irving Thalberg decided to re-cut the picture immediately after the disastrous test screening, he could not cancel the world premiere on January 28, 1932 at the 3,000-seat Fox Theatre in San Diego. This is the only venue at which the uncut version of "Freaks" is known to have played. Ironically, the unexpurgated "Freaks" was a major box-office success. Crowds lined up around the block to see the picture, which broke the theatre's house record. By the end of the run, word had spread that "Freaks" was about to be butchered, and the theatre advertised, "Your last opportunity to see 'Freaks' in its uncensored form!" See more »
In the first shot after the "Wedding Feast" title card, we see Violet Hilton & Daisy Hilton playing soprano saxophones, but we only hear a harmonica being played. See more »
We didn't lie to you folks. We told you we had living, breathing, monstrosities. You laughed at them, shuddered at them. And, yet, but for the accident of birth, you might be one as they are. They did not ask to be brought into the world. But, into the world they came. Their code is a law unto themselves: offend one and you offend them all.
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`Freaks' is a totally unique and superb film by Tod Browning. He made himself legendary one year before this came out in 1931 with the all-time horror classic `Dracula'. This film, however, is something completely different and it nearly cost Browning his career. Since Browning had the courage to cast actual deformed actors, the words distasteful' and exploitative' were automatically attached to his masterpiece and it remained banned in many countries for too many years. Very unjustified, of course because throughout the whole film, you NEVER feel like a voyeur and neither is the misery of these unfortunate people overly exposed. On the contrary, I'd say you can't but get deeply affected by these circus freaks. Especially in the 30's, when the people didn't know much about physical anomalies and feared the unknown, I dare to say Tod Browning's `Freaks' could have been an essential social portrait. And keep in mind that Browning's main moral is that the `freaks' show a lot more solidarity and honesty than the `normal' people whose every motivation is driven by greed and power.
The plot of this purely gold film is set in a traveling circus in which the freaks and normally formed people work together. The beautiful trapeze artist and her strongman lover plot a cowardly plan and she uses her beauty to seduce the rich midget named Hans (a brilliant Harry Earless who also starred in Browning's `The Unholy Tree'). When the greedy couple openly insults the group spirit of the freaks and publicly humiliates Hans, an eerie act of vengeance is thought up. This film is over 70 years old and it'll still unquestionably shock and amaze you. To me, it's just perfect. An outstanding mixture of warm-hearted characters, great dialogue and tension. The climax, in which the freaks seal the portentous fate of their enemies, is an immortal piece of pure terror! `Freaks' is one of the most dazzling classics ever made and must be seen by anybody who ever showed any interest in cinema.
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