Tuesday, Oct 30, 7:30 pm
In 1931, fresh off the success of his horror hit Dracula, director Tod Browning finally got the go-ahead to pursue a longtime passion project of his: a revenge tale centered around sideshow performers in a traveling circus. Eager to produce their own horror films that could rival Dracula, MGM let Browning make Freaks, one of the most ambitious and gutsy filmmaking efforts in Hollywood at the time. Though today many regard it as a classic, or at least a cult favorite, Freaks did not have the same reception in the early 1930s. Its title characters faced scrutiny and revulsion on the MGM backlot, and the film itself faced scandalized audiences nationwide. Those test screenings in early 1932 were disasters, and MGM took the movie away from Browning and slashed almost a half hour from the film. The original runtime of an hour and a half had been cut to just 64 minutes. What was removed has become the stuff of legend; back in the early 30s nobody bothered to save deleted scenes, and so no one alive today has ever seen the complete version of Freaks.
Now, nearly 90 years after its initial release, Freaks remains a unique work in Hollywood history. Real sideshow performers star in Tod Browning's infamous 1932 cult classic, a grotesque revenge drama set against a circus backdrop. Trapeze artist Cleopatra plans to wed and then murder midget Hans for his fortune, but when his fellow 'freaks' discover her scheme, she becomes the target of their horrifying vengeance.
Warning: Freaks was banned in many countries (for 30 years in Britain) as too graphic a display of humans with the severest of physical disabilities. "Today, it looks like a damning antidote to the cult of physical perfection and an extraordinary tribute to the community of so-called freaks who made up its cast." - Derek Malcolm, The Guardian.
Running Time: 64 minutes