Now i Really don't know where to start with Tod Browning's classic Freaks, maybe the fact that it took me years to see it as it was Banned in the UK for years until eventually i was informed by a neighbour that it was to be shown late one night on Channel 4 as part of their Taboo season of films, i was blown away.
The neighbour in question it has to be said is one of the main reasons i got so much into horror films, he was a policeman in the Nottingham Police force and was and still is a lovely chap, i would have probably been around 6 or 7 when i used to go around to be babysat by him and that's when i discovered his huge array of horror film books, i was hooked and still am, i recently saw him and we remaniced about this story and he told me of a story of when he was young and he asked his father after seeing a picture of Frankenstein who he was so his Father explained and he was hooked, especially when his father then said " i won't tell you about Dracula" of course based on the premise that he would immediately want to know everything about Dracula, we then spoke about how films are so easy to get theses days, you see a film, mention a film and within 5 minutes your on the internet and it's there, i see it as a good thing but still also love the reminsing of searching out films and eventually that moment when it starts, a good thing? maybe.
So Lloyd i spoke to you and mentioned that the site is jonnys cult films and if you are reading get in touch and we'll go for a beer and tell me some more stories, i could listen to them all night!!
Many images from is books stuck in my mind over the years from one cover depicting Peter Cushing rising from the grave to the foreboding figure of Christoper Lee as Dracula and of course the ones of Caroline Munroe. Valrie Leon and Madaline smith but thats another story, but the one that stuck in my mind the most was a double page in the book that showed so called Freaks, i used to stare at the picture that included Midgets, Pinheads, Bearded ladies, super skinny bow legged deformed men, the man who walked on his hands and had no lower body and the one known as The human Caterpillar who i discovered as i read the text over the page was just a torso with a head who could roll cigarettes with his mouth and a scene of him doing this is shown in the film, the next page over contained a picture of the so called chicken woman and as it transpires she is the one who is attacked by the freaks and turned into a human chicken, i was young but everything i read and saw made me want to see it so badly, intrigue and stories of revulsion upon release where also mentioned within the text.
Zoom on a few years down the line and it was the night it was due to be shown, 10'oclock, channel 4, i waited and feared i would be disappointed as I'd seen many a film from his books since and it always seemed as nowadays with trailers that you see the best bits of course i couldn't have been more wrong.
I enjoyed Freaks more than i ever would and upon reading of the repulsion and the so called exploitation of the freaks and indeed the hatred toward Browning that effectively killed his career i could not at all understand why, so he exploited the freaks according to people but the same people laughed and love the cute adorable munchkins from The Wizard of Oz, what was the difference???
The film is now heralded as a classic and it easy to see why, the most notorious scene and most truly terrifying is near the end, the scene is in the dark and pouring rain and the freaks plot there revenge, they merge from their caravans on a dark raining and extremely muddy night, hellbent on taking revenge on the lady that has duped the rich midget into parting with his money, the scene unfolds with lightning and shocking images of them all crawling through the mud including the Caterpillar man just crawilng on his torso with a knife in his mouth, breathtaking cinematography that the great Val Lewton would have been proud of, leading up to the climax where we see there revenge has taken shape in the reveal of the new attraction, the chicken woman.
As you may have noticed i have not gone into great depth about the plot/story as most of you have probably seen this, but it's such a damn shame that this film as i said is now hailed a classic but killed Tod Browning's career, it does make you think what he would have gone on to do in the same vain as many a director that has been visionary yet sidelined as it didn't do what the studio wanted it to but are now all hailed as cinematic genius's, this is in my top 3 of all time, coming in at number 3, the other 2 films will follow with my reasons why in my own personal way, if you are reading this and have not seen Freaks i urge you to stop reading now and go seek it out, it is indeed a true classic in every sense of the word,
10/10 Jonny T.