Let me tell you right from the off, that I am a fan of most movies which aim to rattle cages, push the boundaries and force audiences to ask themselves what they find acceptable.
1932's “Freaks” is just such a movie. It was made to cash in on the horror surge of the time, following smash hits like Dracula, of which, “Freaks” helmsman, Tod Browning, was the director.
Browning promised the studio 'the ultimate scary movie', and he delivered big time. As a matter of fact, the picture, which cast genuine circus and side-show performers, only had a brief run in cinemas, as it was met with genuine horror and disgust from audiences. In these, more enlightened times, the feeling people get from watching the film is more one of interest.
If I have a problem with the film, it's not the cast, or the title (though, it does make me cringe slightly), it's that Browning is obviously not sure as to how he wants to present the performers. For most of the movie, they are represented as sympathetic characters, but in one scene, they are depicted more as creatures, as they crawl in the mud.
My favourite part of the film is the ending, when the gold-digging trapeze artist is taught a lesson in the harshest of ways, and it plays like the punchline to the blackest of jokes.