31 Days of Horror Movies: Freaks (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Review Date: Sunday, October 06, 2013
Halloween is a special time. It is the one time of year when everyone gives of themselves. What they give can be anything from candy to a scare. We thought this October, we here at Mania would give you 31 Horror Films for the 31 days of October. Now, many of you will know these films. Some of you, may not. Get ready for 31 days of Horror Films that will run gauntlet from scary to campy, from horrific to down right ridiculous. Happy Halloween from Mania!
Day 6 brings us to Freaks (1932) directed by Tod Browning. The immortal director that brought Dracula (1931) to life and launched the entire Universal Horror Series.
The main story of Freaks is about a circus dwarf named Hans (Harry Earles) who falls in love with the show’s trapeze artist, Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova). The problem is she is a “big person” and he is a little one. The heart of this film is story about greed, deception, love, family, and, above all, loyalty. Cleopatra wants nothing to do with Hans until after she discovers that he is a rich prince. She marries him and, just as quickly, tries to poison him to inherit all his money.
What makes Freaks amazing, controversial, and banned in many countries, was that Tod Browning used actual sideshow freaks in his supporting cast. So instead of looking at actors in scary makeup, we see actual people that are different and, at times, shocking. However, in this story, the “freaks”, are not the monsters, they are the heroes. We are then asked to judge what makes people monsters? Is it the way they look or is it the way they act?
The DVD was released with incredible retrospectives about the film and the actors in it. There is also an incredible documentary about the history of the sideshow experience. These DVD extras only add to your appreciation of what Browning was trying to accomplish in his long lost classic.
This a different horror film for Halloween because the true monsters in Freaks are the normal looking people, proving that beauty truly lies within.
Mania Grade: NA
Starring: Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova
Written By: Clarence Aaron Tod Robbins (story)
Directed By: Tod Browning
Run Time: 64 Minutes