Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Capsule Review: Freaks (1932)

While Tod Browning was never a visual stylist, he did have an obvious fascination with outsiders and deformity - as demonstrated in his films with Lon Chaney - however his most revered and reviled film may be this horrific melodrama featuring a variety of actual circus people in the leads. The storyline isn't anything special, dealing with a beautiful trapeze artist who attempts to marry the midget leader of the circus freaks in order to get at his fortune, but its climax featuring the array of performers stalking the woman in a rainstorm retains its ability to shock. Paced like an old Tales From The Crypt comic, the film is actually quite sympathetic to the circus folk who are shown to be compassionate and kind people, but this didn't prevent the film from being repeatedly banned for decades. 


J.T. said...

Jesus, but this movie still creeps me out and I am like forty years old and this movie is from the fucking 1930's.

Timeless masterpiece of horror and storytelling.

J.T. said...

Forgot to mention that I am ashamed to admit that I actually laughed out loud at something I shouldn't have during this movie.

In the pivotal chase scene at the end, Prince Randian the Caterpillar Man (aka the guy with no arms and legs) is squirming along through the rain and mud with a knife between his teeth and I was all, "Dude, you've got no hands. What are you going to do with that damn thing even if you do catch up to her."

I'm sure Tod Browning ment for that sequence to be frightening but that was such an odd image smack dab in the middle of things.