Pulp Fiction Thursday: Freaks

I first sawTod Browning’s Freaks when I was a mere lad in a rather odd movie theatre. It was a converted apartment building on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. We literally sat in someone’s former living room and watched the film on a small screen. I was still mesmerized.

Freaks was condemned in its time as exploitative since the sideshow was on its way out as a form of semi-mainstream entertainment. But the monsters are the “normal” people who mock and manipulate the freaks until the latter rise against them.

It is also a period piece. You do not see these folks around nowadays due to advances in science and pre-natal care. Of course, there was a freak show last weekend in the DC burbs so maybe that comment was, uh, premature.

In the end, Freaks is an effective early talking picture parts of which will send chills up your spine. It, alas, more or less destroyed the career of director Tod Browning since it was released by MGM, which was the high gloss, low calorie studio of the day, and this was a big budget bust. He was a major director who was then relegated to programmers and low budget fare before his career faded out a mere 7 years later.


Here’s the trailer:

5 thoughts on “Pulp Fiction Thursday: Freaks

  1. Whenever my sister frets about one of her grandchildren seeing some movie on TV that’s “too scary”, I have to remind her that our grandmother took me to see this when I was about 9 or 10. But it was scarier than all those monster movies from the 30s and 40s.

  2. Oh, now I see where Bill Griffith who does the Zippy comic got his inspiration for the Zippy look.

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