ann hale looks at a classic…
After ten straight days of blood and violence, I thought I might take a bit of break today and pick something strange but safe. Tod Browning’s Freaks is just shocking and weird enough to make me feel like I’m watching horror, but safe enough to give me a rest so I don’t have horrible homicidal thoughts.
Freaks takes place around a carnival troupe of little people, pinheads, strong men and more. The main character is Hans, a little guy who is in love with Cleopatra, a beautiful trapeze artist. When Cleopatra finds out that Hans is worth a significant amount of money, she agrees to marry him with plans to murder him after their wedding. The group of carnies discovers her plot and makes their own plan to not only stop her but to take revenge on her for the idea of it.
What makes Freaks so cool is that 1932 was too early for the special effects or makeup it would have taken to create the “freaks” in the film, so everyone you see is completely real. The guy with no legs really has no legs and the human worm actually has no arms or legs.
There are two scenes in particular that stick out to me as the most significant to the movies cause. The first is the wedding dinner where the carnies welcome Cleopatra into their family and she rejects them.
The second is when the carnies take their revenge. It’s a rainy night and the wagons are moving on the road to their next destination. The once welcoming and friendly carnie troupe turns sinister and vengeful. The human worm is crawling on the muddy ground with a knife in his mouth.
I’d like to say that’s the strangest scene involving him. There is actually a scene where he lights a match and lights his own cigarette and the guy has no arms or legs. I won’t lie, that shit freaked me out. This scene and the ending alone are worth watching the whole movie for. From start to finish, you won’t be disappointed.