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Freaks!

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“Freaks!” is a horror film made in 1932 directed by Tod Browning. While it is considered a horror film, it’s not terribly frightening throughout. The last few minutes, while not “scary” are very creepy and the last scene is shocking.
The film opens up in a room with a carnival barker explaining a story about a once beautiful woman and her story. Her name is Cleo and she was the “Peacock of the Sky”, a trapeze artist. One of the midgets in the freak show, Hans, is smitten. She shows him affection and in return, he buys her clothing, wine, jewelry, and gives her large amounts of money. The issue is Hans is engaged to fellow little-person Frieda. She is madly in love with him, but he no longer reciprocates these feelings.
In a side note, all of the “freaks” are played by actual circus freaks. They have deformities, missing limbs, or are just short. That in mind, the acting is fantastic. My favorite freaks are the famous Daisy and Violet Hilton: the Siamese twins.
While Cleo is seducing Hans, she is cheating on him with the strongman Hercules. The freaks suspect but none have the heart to break it to their friend. The freaks’ bond is like that of a family and if you hurt one, you hurt them all. Prior to their affair, Hercules was in a relationship with the performer Venus. She is good friends with Frieda and then dates the clown Phrozo, so she is one of them. Frieda confides in Venus after Hans breaks up with her. Not long after, Frieda lets slip that Hans inherited a large sum of money, so Cleo gets him to marry her and she and Hercules plan to kill him by poisoning.
At the wedding reception, Cleo gets very drunk and laughs at the freaks and the man she married. This upsets Frieda, Venus, and Phrozo, and they leave. This is when Cleo poisons Hans. They continue to taunt him for a bit until the freaks declare that she is not one of them. They chant “gooba gobba, one of us!” and that upsets her and she berates them all and she and Hercules take Hans off to their trailer. Hans gets ill from the poison and a doctor is called in. Cleo goes back to her trailer and she and Hercules are caught in their affair by a dwarf performer. The couple spots him and chases him off but that doesn’t stop him from telling the other freaks.

That’s where I’ll stop my synopsis because the ending is so shocking. I’ve been a hardcore horror fan since I was ten and did not what was coming. It’s not gory or startling or even that frightening but it’s eerie and stays with you long after the credits roll.
“Freaks!” is timeless and a truly great film. Just because it’s classified under horror doesn’t mean it’s like more modern movies such as “Paranormal Activity”, “Hostel”, or even “The Exorcist”. This movie shocked and moved me much more than any of those m flicks could. The viewer gets an emotional connection the characters right away and continues feeling like that the whole time. This is just a very well made film and it truly is a classic. It’s also in the public domain so it is available for free and legal download over the internet (check archive.org) and a full version is available on Google video, so there is no excuse not to see it.
10/10



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