“But for an accident of birth, you might be as they are.” Director Tod Browning (Dracula) delves into the depraved world of sideshow circus freaks to reveal that they have more humanity than the average asshole walking the streets. The last few minutes of this flick are truly horrifying and not for the squeamish. Freaks was based on a 1923 short story Spurs by Tod Robbins. Believe it or not, this masterpiece was released by MGM and only runs for a total of 64 minutes! Also released as Forbidden Love, The Monster Show and Nature’s Mistakes. The eclectic cast includes Olga Baclanova (“Cleopatra”), Harry Earles (“Hans”), Henry Victor (“Hercules”), Prince Randian (“The Living Torso”), Leila Hyams (“Venus”), Wallace Ford (“Phroso”), Daisy and Violet Hilton (“Siamese Twins”), Josephine Joseph (“Half Woman-Half Man”), Frances O’Connor (“Armless Girl”), Peter Robinson (“Human Skeleton”), Olga Roderick (“Bearded Lady”), Angelo Rossitto (“Angeleno”), Koo Koo, Schlitzie and Johnny Eck (“The Half Boy”), who once famously remarked, “If I want to see freaks, I can just look out the window." Freaks would make a great double feature with Nightmare Alley (1947). Useless Trivia: Born in Baltimore in 1911, Eck (real name: Johnny Eckhardt) was born without a body below the waist and had a normal twin brother named Robert. Eck joined the freak show circuit at the tender age of 12 and soon earned the title, “King of the Freaks.” In addition to Freaks, Eck appeared in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), Tarzan Escapes (1936) and Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (1941). Eck and his brother toured the country as part of a famous magic show, performing a routine where Eck was sawed in half, much to the horror of many theatergoers. According to reports, Eck had a genius IQ and was a highly talented painter, musician and gymnast. Eck died of a heart attack in 1991 and is buried in Greenmount Cemetery in Baltimore alongside his brother.
Did You Know ...
• Freaks was banned in the United Kingdom for more then 30 years.
• One of the movie posters for Freaks featured the line "Can a Full Grown Woman Truly Love a Midget?"
• Freaks is one of the 100 great films featured in Danny Peary's legendary 1981 guide Cult Movies: The Classics, The Sleepers, The Weird and the Wonderful.