Director: Tod Browning (1932)
Starring: Harry Earles, Leila Hyams, Daisy Earles
Find it: IMDB

This year, more so than ever before, it would be fair to say that I have watched a lot of shit. With two websites (this one and the lovely and a magazine (Starburst - nothing to do with the sweets) on the go, I have had to watch a lot of movies. I've seen one about a man who tickles women to death, more found footage movies than I can care to remember, and I even had to watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation again, in preparation for a magazine feature. I know, what a fucking whine. But amongst all of the shit, I've also been trying to catch up on the classics. High on my to-do list was this, Tod Browning's infamous Freaks.  

Freaks is very worthy of the 'classic' label, and I'm not just saying that because Black And White Equals Classy And Good and I don't want you all to LOL at my stupidity. It's a film about a travelling circus - the old school type with 'freaks' and muscle men who wear leotards. Its plot has Circus beauty Cleopatra (Hyams) attempt to swindle one of the 'freaks' (dwarf Hans, played by Harry Earles) out of his fortune. When she goes too far, Hans' friends and fellow 'freaks' turn on Cleopatra and her strongman boyfriend, with grisly results. Although you'll probably recognise that ending from various clip shows and documentaries, Freaks retains almost all of its power.

I totally shed a tear at the end, so poignant is the love story between Hans and Frieda (Daisy Earles). That's a little creepy when you stop to consider that Harry and Daisy Earles were siblings in real life, but we'll gloss over that. I rarely cry get anything in my eye for anything that's not a cartoon or episode of Buffy, but this ending tugged on my old heartstrings all the same (tacked on afterwards, as it may have been). Maybe it's because I'm a deformed freak too, and I also turned a woman into a duck for scorning me (well, I photoshopped her head onto a picture of a duck, anyway. It still counts).

Freaks is a classic. Even today, it's a great story, and still has the power to profoundly move its viewers. And I'm not just saying that because I don't want to look stupid.