Freaks (1932)

This is one of those movies that I heard about and have always been interested in watching but I just never got around to doing it. It’s one of those movies that I said if it’s on TCM sure I watch it, and it finally aired. Freaks is a unique film as the cast features real sideshow performers who were the “freaks” of the sideshow. If you haven’t seen this film it will be airing again on Turner Classic Movies on Halloween at midnight. There will perhaps be some spoilers to follow but it’s been about seventy years since it was released so be warned.

Freaks the MGM film from 1932 tells the story of a group of circus performers. The film is based on the short story Spurs by Tod Robbins, in which a midget performer falls for a beautiful “normal” circus performer. In the film the same thing happens Hans (the midget) falls for Cleopatra (the beautiful trapeze artist), she has learned that Hans has a sizable inheritance and wants it for herself. At their wedding all the “freaks” accept her as one of their own, this freaks Cleo out and she admits to having an affair with the strongman.

Despite this revelation Hans sticks by Cleo who during the party has been poisoning Hans with his drink and has continued as she adds poison to his medicine. Another performer Venus overhears Cleopatra and the strongman’s plan to kill Hans, take his money and run away. She goes and tells Hans and the other performers of what is happening. They then plan to attack both of them and turn them into freaks as well.

I find it funny how the year I watch it The Simpsons does a Treehouse of Horror bit on Freaks, with Marge and Homer as the normals and Moe as freak the normals are going to steal from. All in all I think the movie was good, it wasn’t to scary of a horror movie. Rather it serves to hold up a mirror to life, the “Freaks” were shown as nice, trusting people while the normals are the real monsters in the film, I think this message has the same weight today as the world seems to be way to cynical.


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