Freaks

Year Of Release: 1932
Running Time: 62 Minutes
DVD Released By: Warner Brothers
Directed By: Tod Browning
Writing Credits: Al Boasberg (uncredited), Willis Goldbeck (uncredited), Leon Gordon (uncredited), Clarence Aaron 'Tod' Robbins (novel Spurs as Tod Robbins), Edgar Allan Woolf (uncredited)
Filming Location: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Culver City, California, USA

Starring: Wallace Ford (Phroso), Leila Hyams (Venus), Olga Baclanova (Cleopatra), Roscoe Ates (Roscoe), Henry Victor (Hercules), Harry Earles (Hans), Daisy Earles (Frieda), Rose Dione (Madame Tetrallini), Daisy Hilton (Siamese Twin), Violet Hilton (Siamese Twin), Schlitze (Himself), Josephine Joseph (Half-Woman / Half Man), Johnny Eck (Half Boy), Frances O'Connor (Armless Girl), Peter Robinson (Human Skeleton), Olga Roderick (Bearded Lady), Koo Koo (Herself), Prince Randian (The Living Torso), Martha Morris (Armless Girl), Elvira Snow (Pinhead - as Zip), Jenny Lee Snow (Pinhead - as Pip), Elizabeth Green (Bird Girl), Angelo Rossitto (Angeleno), Edward Brophy (Rollo Brother), Matt McHugh (Rollo Brother)

Tagline #1: Can a full grown woman truly love a MIDGET?

Tagline #2: "We'll Make Her One of Us!" from the gibbering mouths of these weird creatures came this frenzied cry... no wonder she cringed in horror... this beautiful woman who dared toy with the love of one of them!

Tagline #3: The Strangest... The Most Startling Human Story Ever Screened... Are You Afraid To Believe What Your Eyes See?

Tagline #4: The Love Story of a SIREN, a GIANT, and a DWARF!

Alternate Titles:
Forbidden Love (1932) (USA) (informal title)
Nature's Mistakes (1932) (USA) (informal title)
The Monster Show (1932)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
In the UK this film was banned for 30 years after it was first released. It is also still banned in Sweden to this day as well as being listed as banned in Finland and Ireland. It is still technically illegal to show it in some states and cities in the US, although the archaic laws regarding that are no longer enforced. One of the writers, Edgar Allan Woolf, also co-wrote the screenplay for The Wizard of Oz in 1939. The film's original ending showed Hercules singing soprano in Madame Tetrallini's new sideshow due to the fact that he had been castrated by the freaks, but due to intense reactions of disgust on the part of test audiences, this scene was cut from the final release of the film. The on-screen romance between Hans and Frieda was very subdued because the roles were being played by real life brother and sister Harry and Daisy Earles.

 

 




Cast Of Characters
Hans: Ever seen a pissy little midget with a German accent that sounds like it's coming out of a cupie doll? Well now you have. This little guy has a pony act in the circus, and he was supposed to have been engaged to Frieda, but unfortunately for him, he was thinking with his other little head and ended up becoming Cleopatra's sugar daddy. It's just a good thing he figured out what a beeotch she was before she managed to kill him.

Frieda: Man I don't know what the hell she's saying. She's got a high pitched nasal voice and a thick German accent just like Hans. Not really surprising since they're real life brother and sister, but still... Her and Hans both sound like they been suckin' the life out of a big helium bottle. Anyway, she's the wronged fiance in this whole thing. She's a very sweet girl who just loves Hans and wants him to be happy no matter what. He was a moron for puttin' the dump on her.

Cleopatra: Who's runnin' Hell while she's up here? Jeez, this chick is flat out evil, and she talks like a female version of Bela Lugosi. She's a worthless, gold-digging, slutty murderous tramp...and those are her good points! She basically steals Hans from Frieda just because she can and then when she finds out that he's a sugar daddy and buys her all kinds of jewels and furs and what not, she marries him. Right before they get married, she finds out from Frieda that he actually inherited a fortune, and she hatches up a plan with her lover Hercules to poison Hans and steal his fortune.

Hercules: He's big, he's dumb and you can use his hair to scrub your dishes. Yes folks, it's the circus strongman, Hercules! He was in on the plot to kill Hans so that he and Cleopatra could run off with his fortune. Basically, he's a loud, obnoxious lout who's only redeeming quality is...oh wait, he doesn't have any. He used to be with Venus, but since she's a good girl, she got sick of him and dumped him.

Venus: She's a good kid and just one of the carnies that treat the freaks like normal human beings. Once she gets fed up with Hercules, which fortunately happens early on, she leaves him and ends up hooking up with Phroso, who's actually a really nice guy. I always wondered why nice girls end up with jerky bastards in the first place while all the nice guys end up sitting along the sidelines. Unfortunately, this film didn't do a thing to answer that question.

Phroso: He's the clown at the circus and is always trying to come up with a new gag to make people laugh. He's really nice to all the freaks and is just a genuinely nice guy period. He's been in love with Venus for a long time, and right after she dumped the human brillo pad, they got together.

Roscoe: This guy is going to marry Daisy, one of the siamese twin Hilton sisters. God knows why she'd want him though. He's balding, dumpy, bitchy and he stutters like an epileptic trying to do a beat box. No really...he does! He's basically a pain in the butt, but he's good to the freaks and doesn't treat them badly outside of his bitching at Daisy, which in and of itself isn't all that bad. I wanted to throw him in here even though he didn't have that big of a part because his stuttering just killed me. It's also interesting to note that the other Hilton sister also has a fiance and is going to get married as well. Won't that be interesting in the bedroom.

Madame Tetrallini: She was hardly in it, but I thought it was important to put her in here since it was her circus that this all takes place at. She's a kindly old woman who takes care of the freaks as though they were her own children. Hell, maybe some of them were. Who knows?




Screen Shots

"When they said my blind date would probably end up being a horny old cow, I thought they were just kidding!"

"Now now children. Just go up to the nice man and say Trick or Treat!"

"This would be a lot more fun if I were about three inches taller."

"We got tired of goth, so we've decided to go punk instead. Whatcha think?"

 

"Hey, I heard the Brady Bunch Invitational Potato Sack Race and Kitsch Fest are being held down at the fairgrounds. Think you could give me a lift?"

 

 

"Now come on honestly, who here has never had sex with Mrs. Cartman?"

"I haven't."

"You don't count Halfy, you don't have any legs."

"Oh, yeah."

(For those that don't know, that was a reference from South Park. This guy's name is actually Johnny.)

 

And here we have Mr. / Ms. Josephine Joseph, the amazing half man-half woman. I was just thinking that maybe if he / she got rid of his / her one eyed barber and one eyed tailor, then he / she might be able to go one way or the other.

These are the Hilton sisters. Violet is on the left and Daisy is on the right. Daisy's getting married to Roscoe, who you read about in the character section. He doesn't deserve her though just because he seems like a little bitch. I mean, think about it. How cool would it be to be her husband? It's like getting a two for one special. Every night's a threesome and if you get a place with a sink right next to the stove, then one can cook while the other one washes the dishes.

Editor's Note: I probably just ticked off every single one of my female readers, but I don't care. I think it was funny.

"Friends, are you constipated? Well then do what I did, and try new Relaxo mini caplets. Small enough for a little guy like me to swallow, but powerful enough to get rid of that irritating intestinal back up. Just two little pills in the evening will keep you going all through the next day. So the next time you're in your local drug store, just sing this little song and it'll help you remember what to do."

"When you had stew and some french bread too then you may find out that you just can't poo, but if you take Relaxo with dessert it'll turn that food right into squirt."

Class of 1932

Holy crap! A midget with a switchblade!

And Johnny's got a gun! The freaks are armed! Well, at least the ones that actually have arms are anyway.

Man, they really did make her one of them. I wonder if she can lay eggs? At least then she could make herself useful.




Best Quote

"We accept her...we accept her...gooble gobble...gooble gobble...one of us...one of us..."

- After Hans and Cleopatra got married and they were having the reception, the freaks all started chanting this about Cleopatra. By the way, everyone was drunk. - (Reviewer's Note: Man, the last thing you'd want to see or hear when you're drunk is a bunch of freaks chanting about how they're going to make you one of them. That'd be enough to give you the boo boo jeebies.)




Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

Freaks
The freaks start doing the gooble gobble chant at the wedding reception and freak the hell out of Cleopatra.



Summary and Conclusion

I'm sure we've all had times when we've felt like freaks. Think back to your elementary and high school days and I'm sure you'll be able to come up with a lot of times where you felt like a freak of some sort, but I promise you that no matter how bad you ever felt, there's no way you could have ever felt like the freaks in this film. Freaks stars a variety of genuine freaks that are mostly nothing more than people who were unfortunate enough to be born with various conditions or deformities. Unfortunately, because of this, they are generally looked upon with horror by the "normal" population at large, and it's only the genuinely caring among us like Phroso and Venus and Madame Tetrallini that treat these special people like what they are...human beings.

Freaks is a showcase about the lives of these unfortunate people, forced to put themselves on display for the "normals" just to make a living. They're a close knit little community and they watch out for one another just as though they were family. They share each other's joy and pain and when you wrong one of them, you've wronged all of them. The people who work at the circus seem to represent a cross section of the attitudes that society in general has towards those who are born different. You have the evil gold-digger Cleopatra and her lover Hercules as well as a few other people in the circus who see the freaks as nothing more than just that...freaks. They shun them and ridicule them because it makes them feel superior. Then there's the people like Roscoe who's actually engaged to one of them. The people like him seem to take more of a neutral attitude towards the freaks, treating them as they would treat anyone else without being overly nice or not nice to them. Then there's the genuinely nice and caring people like Venus, Phroso, Madame Tetrallini, the sword swallower and the fire eating Indian. They're people who actually care about the freaks and treat them as though they were just like anyone else. The simple fact is, although some of the freaks show mental deficiencies, most of them are just normal people with emotions and desires just like any other "normal" person.

The way some of these freaks have adapted to life is simply incredible and it's really a testament to the human spirit. There's two girls that have no arms, and yet both can eat and drink and do a variety of things using only their feet. There's one guy who you see in the screenshots above who has no arms or legs and is forced to move along the ground like a slug. Well at one point we see this guy actually get a match out of a box and light a cigarette with it. He pulls the match out with his mouth, and then closes the box and nudges it up onto it's side. Then with the cigarette and the match in his mouth, he lights the match on the side of the box and sets it down crossways on the box itself. He then lights his cigarette on it. Then here's Johnny who had no body below his ribs really so he walks around everyone on his hands using his arms as effectively, if not more so, than most people use their legs. They've all had to adapt in one way or another, whether it be physically or emotionally, and that's what makes them all so admirable. I don't think you'd find many "normal" people who can adapt to life as well as these freaks have.

Basically the story is relatively simple. A midget named Hans is engaged to another midget named Frieda, but their love is torn apart when a normal sized woman named Cleopatra steps into the picture and steals Hans' heart. He leaves Frieda and pursues a relationship with her, and eventually they get married. Cleopatra and her lover Hercules plot to poison Hans and steal his fortune, but fortunately, Hans figures out her little plot in time and secretly spits out the poison. After Cleopatra freaked out at the wedding reception, the freaks have been watching her and Hercules and keeping an eye on Hans to make sure he was ok. At the end of the movie, the freaks take care of business, and Cleopatra learns what it's like to be looked upon with horror and disgust.

I purposely kept that plot description relatively sketchy because this is a movie that everyone should see. Not just people who love classic cinema or people who like the tales of the bizarre, but everyone. This film is almost like a combination of a fictional story and a real life documentary about what life is like for the freaks. It's as inspiring as it is entertaining, and definitely should be seen by everyone. Unfortunately, the film was banned in a lot of places, and has only now become available on DVD after many years of being hidden away. Perhaps it's not considered as shocking now as it once was, but in any case, you'll be amazed at what you see.

Warner brothers did a nice job with this DVD release. The packaging and the disc itself are both very stylish looking, the transfer is great and it has a good number of extras including commentary by author David J. Skal, a documentary called Freaks: Sideshow Cinema, a special message prologue added for theatrical reissue, and a discussion about the three alternate endings. I discussed the one that got cut up in the trivia section, but the other two were just shortened versions of the regular ending. I really wish they could have found the footage of the alternate ending and included it in the release because it sounds way better than the ending that replaced it. The disc also has subtitles, which is great because you really can't understand what Hans and Frieda are saying half the time because of their high pitched voices and their accents. Watching this movie with subtitles will make it far easier for you to catch everything that's said. There is one thing that caught my eye on the DVD cover that was wrong and I'm going to mention it only because it's something that should have been caught before the DVD was released. In the list of stars on the cover, it lists Rosco Ates. Mr. Ates is indeed in this film, but his name is spelled Roscoe, with an "e" at the end. I don't mean to be nit picky, but they should at least get his name right if they're going to put it on the cover.

Freaks is a brilliant film, but in my opinion too short at only 62 minutes. I would have liked to have seen this film come in at more like 85 to 90 minutes, but still, it's a brilliant piece of work and it's one classic that everyone really needs to see. I waited for ages for this film to come out on DVD, and now that it has, I can finally check yet another classic off my wish list.

B-Movie Central's Rating: 5 Bees!

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