“Freaks” and Geeks

If you have not already been privy to the movie “Freaks” you have seriously missed out.  In 1932 Tod Browning brought together a group of natural and self-made freaks to create the largest sideshow ever to exist real or fictional.  These wonderful people had the opportunity to show themselves and their skills off in a way and to a wide an audience that was previously inconceivable.  Tod Browning’s intention was to take down the veil of the creature from these performers and show their more humanistic sides, their loves, their sadnesses, their everyday lives.  Though the ending does takes away from that intention, in real life the people portraying the freaks earned a certain level of fame in their lifetime.  The Hilton Sisters were most famous conjoined twins due to the movie, their musical skills and certain publicity stunts. Schlitze the Pinhead while always beloved, was never forgotten by his fans. Johnny Eck could arguably be the most famous of his time due to him having no lower torso or legs. With an identical twin brother who was born in complete form they made a successful career on the stage with acts like sawing a man in half (well you can just imagine).

But these smartypants weren’t just pretty faces.  Oh no.  The Hilton Sisters played the piano in tandem and sang like nightingales. The diminutive Daisey Earles was a professional actress as was her brother Harry an actor.  There were fire-eaters and knife-throwers among them.   Even the infamous “Bird Girl” Elizabeth Green knew how use showmanship to her advantage.

The movie is categorized as Drama/Horror; but while there is intrigue and drama and action at the end I supposed in the 30’s it would be seen as a horror.  Nowadays the only horror I would see is in not accepting this movie and these people as – and yes I’m gonna say it – “one of us.”

Tod Browning w/ some of the cast.