Freaks is an old black and white movie from 1932, but don’t let that fool you. There was no political correctness in those days, and it certainly shows in this movie, but not in a bad way.
A beautiful trapese artist in the travelling circus falls in love with Hans, a midget. Coincidence that he is to come in to a large inheritance? We think not. The other midget in the circus warns Hans that she’s after him for his money but he isn’t convinced. Later Hans falls ill and the rest of the travelling circus are suspicious of the trapese artist and her sneaky lover Hercules. They find out she’s been poisoning Hans and gang up on the money grabbing pair, turning the one lovely trapese artist into a freak like them. As the narrative in the movie says, if you insult one freak, you insult them all…
Special effects are zero, all the freaks in the movie are genuine human oddities. There’s everything from midgets, dwarves, people with odd shaped heads, human skeletons, and watch out for the ‘caterpillar dude’ (TM, Ronnie) who is just a torso with a head, no seriously… he has no limbs what-so-ever and just crawls about like a caterpillar, VERY spooky. As if that’s not bad enough there’s a guy with no hips/legs who runs using his arms and hands! It is easily the spookiest thing I have ever seen in a film. At one point in the film he’s ‘sitting’ on the ground, but it just looks like some dude thats been buried up to his waist.
It (unfortunately) wasn’t in the version I viewed, but apparently there is an alternative, now considered lost, ending where Hercules is castrated and ends up as a castrato. That ending would have been the icing on the cake for this film, I want it found and restored!
Other than the freaks themselves, the ending (below) is extremely creepy, it’s like a miniature/deformed Dawn of the Dead with midgets walking, toward Hercules, through the rain with nothing but evil in their eyes.
I’m not quite sure how this managed to get a DVD release, as I’d have thought the PC freaks (pun intended) would have interjected and demanded a ban, but no, and thank God for sense and reason! Although apparently it was banned for thirty years in the UK, hardly a surprise for the UK.
Freaks is a good film, the ‘people with unusual physical characteristics’, while in a circus, are shown living (relatively) normal lives and seem to enjoy what they’re doing. Although one actor did denounce the movie as offensive. But I’m sure he/she still accepted their wage. Freaks is a classic movie, and deserves at least one watch for it’s curiosity factor.