Ladies and Gentlemonsters, Boys and Ghouls, Vampires and Werewolves, welcome to another episode of SithVamp Reviews! Since it is October, I’m gonna review horror movies, so welcome to the SithVamp October SpecDracular! The first movie I’ll review is a black-and-white flick from the 30s, a movie simply known as… FREAKS!!! So let’s not waste any time, let’s dive right into Freaks!
Freaks came out in 1932. It was directed by Todd Browning, director of the 1931 Dracula movie. The most interesting thing about this movie is that the cast included real deformed people.
The movie opens at a sideshow, where the guide is showing the audience around. They stop at a box where there’s something that the guide refers to as “The most astounding living, breathing monstrosity of all time”. Then he tells the story of this “astounding monstrosity” and we cut to a flashback.
We see that the creature the guide was talking about was an aerialist called Cleopatra, who was known as the Peacock of the Air. Then we see two German little people: Hans and Frieda. Hans is watching Cleopatra and he falls in love with her. This makes Frieda jealous. When Cleopatra finishes her performance, she comes out of the tent and drops her cape. Hans picks it up and Cleo tells him to come and see her sometime. Frieda watches this and becomes even more jealous.
We then cut to two men walking in the woods. One of them says that he saw monsters. Then we see the title characters of this movie: the freaks. These deformed people include little people, a thin man, pinheads, a man without legs who walks on his hands, a man with no limbs whatsoever, etc. We see the freaks dancing around until they get chased away by the two men we saw earlier. A lady called Madame Tetrallini, who takes care of the freaks, tells the two men not to be rude to them, because they’re just like children. Then she takes takes them back to the circus.
Then we cut back to the Circus backstage, where we meet other circus people, like half-man half-woman Josephine Joseph, Roscoe the stuttering clown, Violet and Daisy the Siamese twins, Venus a girl whose job in the circus is never explained in the movie and Hercules the strongman.
We see Venus packing her things, because she’s leaving Hercules’ wagon. Hercules is angry and tells her not to come back. BTW, it may be just me, but I think Henry Victor, the guy who plays Hercules looks a lot like Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump… Anyway, while Venus is moving to another wagon she sees one of the clowns, Phroso, and starts yelling at him. The two get in a fight but then they settle down. Venus tells Phroso that she was just angry and she had to let her anger out on someone.
We then cut to the Siamese twins: Violet and Daisy, having an argument Violet’s husband Roscoe the stuttering clown. When Violet and Daisy want to leave, Violet always says “I gotta go” then Roscoe would say “Oh p-p-phooey! You always use that as an ex… as an exc… for an alibi!” When I first heard him saying this, I thought: “Wow, now I know who the inspiration for Porky Pig was…”
We then cut back to Hercules, who gets stopped by Cleopatra. Cleo invites Hercules to her wagon and the two start flirting. When they start making out, Hercules notices that half-man-half-woman Josephine Joseph is watching them. This makes Hercules angry and proceeds to punch Josephine. Cleo laughs at this. Didn’t know who the villains in this movie were? Well don’t worry, that scene let you know.
We then cut to Frieda talking to Hans, telling him how much worried she is about Hans and Cleo’s relationship. Hans is not listening, because he’s thinking about Cleo.
We then cut back to Cleo and Hercules still flirting. Then Hans is knocking on Cleo’s door. Since she doesn’t want him to know Hercules is in her wagon, Cleo kindly sends Hans away. Then she and Hercules laugh at how gullible Hans is.
We then cut to Frieda talking to Venus. She tells her how upset she is because Hans wouldn’t stop thinking about Cleo. Frieda knows Cleo only cares about Hans’ money and she would only trick Hans.
After a scene where Hercules and two other circus workers make fun of Hans, we see Phroso talking to Venus again. Then comes Johnny the man without legs and tells Phroso to show that trick he taught him. So Phroso puts on his clown suit and tells Venus to hit him on the head with a mallet. Venus does this and Phroso starts making chicken noises. Then he notices that this trick didn’t make Venus laugh so he gets offended. Then Phroso hurries away, because the Bearded Lady’s baby has born.
We then see another scene with Violet, Daisy and Roscoe and it’s basically the same scene that we saw with them earlier: they argue and then Violet and Daisy leave.
Then we see what the other freaks are doing: for example we see another little person named Angelino, a woman without arms, the man with no limbs trying to light himself a cigarette, Phroso talking to the Pinheads, etc. This is a really, really complex movie, but I’ll try my best to review it.
So after all that stuff, we finally return to the main plot of the movie: Hans’ crush on Cleo. We see them drinking champagne and chatting with each other.
Then we see another scene with the Siamese twins, and we learn that Violet is engaged to a man, and before you ask, no, this subplot is going nowhere, because it’s never brought up again.
Anyway, back to the movie’s main plot: Frieda enters Hans’ wagon and the two have a talk. Frieda begs Hans to stop dating Cleo because she knows Cleo would only break Hans’ heart. Hans, being head over heels in love with Cleo, doesn’t listen to Frieda. He tells her that he was never happier in his life before. Then Frieda leaves, being even more heartbroken.
We then cut to Cleo and Hercules again, checking one of the gifts Hans gave Cleo: a platinum necklace; and here’s where we learn the truth: Cleo is just a gold-digging whore and Hercules is a greedy bastard and the only thing both of them want is money. Then Frieda enters Cleo’s wagon and tells her that she knows that Cleo only wants the fortune Hans inherited. When Frieda leaves, Cleo gets an idea: she plans that she’ll marry Hans so she can get his fortune and then she and Hercules will kill Hans.
Then we cut to Hans and Cleo’s wedding feast. The freaks and other circus members, except for Venus and Phroso, are invited. Everyone is having fun and during all of this, Cleo secretly pours poison into a champagne bottle and then forces Hans to drink. Seeing this, Frieda sadly leaves. Then the freaks hold the induction ceremony, because they want to make Cleo one of them and they start chanting: “Gooble Gobble! Gooble Gobble! We accept her! We accept her! One of us! One of us!” This however does not make Cleo happy. She gets pissed off, yelling “DIRTY SLIMY FREAKS!!! GET OUT OF HERE!!!”
So Cleo and Hercules chase the guests out of the room, and after yelling at him, Cleo picks up Hans and takes him on a ride on her back, while Hercules is playing a trumpet.
Then we cut to Cleo, Hans and Hercules in Cleo’s wagon, and Hans blames himself for what happened. Then he collapses because of the poisoned champagne. Cleo takes him back to his wagon. Luckily, one of Hans’ friends Angelino sees this.
We then cut to Hans lying in bed, with a doctor, Cleo, and Madame Tetrallini. The doctor says Hans had been poisoned. Angelino sees this too. Venus somehow knows about Cleo and Hercules’ plan, so he tells Hercules that he and Cleo should come clean to the doctor or she’ll call the police.
At night, Cleo is “nursing” Hans, and Angelino is still spying on them. Cleo once again pours poison into Hans’ medicine. Then she leaves. Then Angelino comes in and since Hans is somehow aware of the fact that Cleo only wants his money, he and Angelino come up with a plan for revenge…
Then come the scenes, where the movie really begins to feel like a horror film:
That night, when the circus is packing to leave, the freaks gather around to discuss the revenge plan. We then cut to Frieda and Phroso. Frieda tells Phroso that Hercules wants to kill Venus, because she knows too much about his and Cleo’s plan. Phroso sets off to save Venus from Hercules.
Cut to Hans’ wagon, where Hans is still lying in bed, and he has his friends: Angelino, Johnny the man without legs and an unnamed little person sitting around. Then Hans gets out of bed and tells Cleo to give him her bottle of poison. Hans’ friends even pull out a switchblade and a gun just to prove Hans isn’t joking. Seeing that she’s being threatened, Cleo slowly hands over the bottle to Hans. Then somehow Hans’ wagon gets tipped over and Cleo runs away while Hans and his friends start chasing her.
Then we cut to Venus’ wagon, where Hercules breaks through the door and is about to kill Venus, when Phroso arrives to stop him. A fight breaks out between the two men and Phroso tells Venus to run away. Unfortunately, since he is the circus strongman, Hercules is stronger than Phroso and he almost beats him to death. Hercules is just about to strangle Phroso to death, when one of the little people throws a knife in his (Hercules’) side. Phroso punches Hercules then crawls away. The wounded Hercules crawls in the mud, while the freaks, armed with knives, are slowly crawling towards him. We don’t see the freaks killing Hercules, because we soon cut back to Cleo, who is still being chased by Hans and his freak friends. Cleo screams and then the flashback ends.
We cut back to present time and we finally see what has become of Cleo: instead of killing her, the freaks really made her “One of them”: we see that Cleo has been turned into a human duck!
The movie ends with a scene in Hans’ mansion. Hans is heartbroken about the loss of Cleo. Frieda, Venus and Phroso visit Hans to comfort him. Hans starts crying but Frieda tells him not to worry because she loves him. And then the movie ends.
And that’s Freaks. What do I think of it? It’s a very impressive movie! Its message is basically “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, and it delivers it very well. Even though it was made in the 30s, it’s still a good movie to watch today.
- It was a smart idea of director Todd Browning to use real deformed people in the movie instead of resorting to makeup or special effects
- I like the movie’s “don’t be shallow” message.
- Unexplained things, like Venus’ job: seriously, nobody ever mentioned what Venus’ job is in the circus. Cleo is the aerialist, Hercules is the strongman, Phroso is the clown, but Venus? Nobody even bothered to tell us what her job is!
- Stuff that was going nowhere, like the story of the Siamese twins and Roscoe
My favorite character:
- Johnny the man without legs
- The other freaks
My least favorite character:
One more thing I’d like to mention: this movie was the inspiration for the Ramones song “Pinhead aka Gabba Gabba Hey”
In conclusion: I think Freaks is a really impressive movie. I’m giving it 9 bats out of 10. See you next time on SithVamp Reviews!