One of my favorite horror movies is Freaks. I first read about it in a library book on classic horror movies I checked out when I was a kid. I didn’t actually see the movie itself until many years later when I rented it from a video store. Yes, back then there were actually video stores in business offering movie rentals on VHS tapes. Anyway, when I first saw Freaks I too felt its punch but then became so mesmerized by it that I later bought my own copy for repeated viewing enjoyment.
The film takes place in a circus featuring actual sideshow freaks with every deformity imaginable, but ironically, the real monsters are the humans who conspire to murder a wealthy midget to inherit his fortune. When word of this conspiracy reaches the sideshow gallery, the freaks intervene to save him and turn one of the conspirators into a monstrosity more horrific than all of them combined.
Freaks was so shocking when it was first released in 1932 that it was banned for many years, but fortunately, our society has since evolved into one more open-minded and tolerable enough to finally give this movie the appreciation it deserves.
I really don’t think Freaks is a horror movie at all. It’s more of a drama with some amusing moments but the appearance of the freaks themselves does add some shock value. I myself felt this shock when I first saw the movie but the shock quickly gave way to the fascination I now possess.
Medical science has indeed progressed to the point where there will never again be freaks like the ones featured in the film. It’s a safe bet to say that there will never again be a movie like Freaks.
Freaks is now in the public domain and can be viewed online or downloaded from the Internet Archive in a variety of file formats, all of them offering very good video quality. You can find the subtitles here.