A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.
A circus trapeze artist, Cleopatra, takes an interest in Hans, a midget who works in the circus sideshow. Her interest however is in the money Hans will be inheriting and she is actually carrying on an affair with another circus performer, Hercules. Hans's fiancée does her best to convince him that he is being used but to no avail. At their wedding party, a drunken Cleopatra tells the sideshow freaks just what she thinks of them. Together, the freaks decide to make her one of their own.Written by
MGM responded to criticism of the film with a series of ads congratulating itself for daring to humanize deformity. Calling the film "A LANDMARK IN SCREEN DARING!" ads asked "'Do we dare tell the real truth on the screen? Do we dare hold up the mirror to nature in all its grim reality?'" See more »
When Johnny visits Venus and Phroso, he climbs the steps and removes his gloves. In a subsequent shot, his gloves are back on. See more »
And now folks, if you will just step this way, you are about to witness a most amazing, the most outstanding living monstrosity of all time.
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Although most prints end with the revelation of what happened to Cleopatra, Turner Classic Movies shows a version which follows that scene with a happy-ending epilogue in which Hans and Frieda are reunited. This epilogue itself exists in two different versions, one with dialogue, one without. All three alternate endings are included on the Warner DVD. See more »
'Freaks' is an extraordinary movie with a lot of heart.
I really dig 1930s horror movies. There's just something special about them that can never be recreated. A lot of it has to do with the talkies being new territory, many of the directors adapting German Expressionist techniques to Hollywood melodrama, and the freedom allowed before the Hayes Code really kicked in. Movies like 'Dracula', 'Frankenstein', 'Bride Of Frankenstein', 'Island Of Lost Souls', 'The Invisible Man' and 'White Zombie' are horror classics which still impress today. I wonder whether anyone will be watching the lame horror movies of today in seventy years for any other reason than some cheap laughs? Todd Browning made the transition from silent movies and directed the hugely successful 'Dracula' in 1931. It was a sensation and made Bela Lugosi a horror icon. Browning could pretty much do anything he chose after that. He chose to do 'Freaks'. Great for us as, not so great for him. The movie was universally reviled and even banned in some countries and his career never fully recovered. But 'Freaks' is an extraordinary movie with a lot of heart. It has faults, sure - some corny acting at times, and not so great production values - but it really doesn't matter. I don't know anyone who's seen it who hasn't been deeply affected by it. The reason the movie caused such a negative reaction back in the 1930s was because it used real circus performers including Zip the Pinhead and Radian "The Living Torso". Many people found this to be distasteful and exploitative, but the performers seemed to be glad to get the opportunity to work, and the whole crux of the movie is that the "freaks" are more decent than the "normal" Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) , the trapeze artist who marries little person Hans (Harry Earls) for his money. 'Freaks' is still a very powerful and unique movie. It has inspired many creative people over the years from the Surrealists to The Ramones to Jodorowsky to David Lynch. 'Freaks' comes with my highest recommendation!
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