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Genre: Horror
Psychological Horror
Photography: Black and White
Running Time: 90 Minutes (original cut)
64 Minutes (edited cut)
Country: United States
Release Date: February 20, 1932
Directed by: Tod Browning
Written by: Willis Goldbeck
Leon Gordon
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Starring: Wallace Ford
Leila Hyams
Roscoe Atas
Olga Baclanova

Freaks is a 1932 pre-code psychological horror/suspense/thriller live-action movie.  It was directed by Tod Browning, written by Willis Goldbeck and Leon Gordon, edited by Basil Wrangell, filmed by Merritt B. Gerstad, produced by Tod Browning, Harry Rapf, Irving Thalberg, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  

Why It Rocks

  1. Excellent special effects.
  2. The director, Tod Browning, chose to cast real-life deformed people and carnival performers, which only added to the authenticity of this disturbing movie. 
  3. Amazing acting.
  4. The film tells a disturbing, yet realistic, story of what people who are different have to go through, and asks the question what it really means to be normal. It was way ahead of its time for 1932 standards.
  5. Great casting.
  6. Like most horror movies from this era, the lack of music only helps to enhance the creepy mood.
  7. The best scene in the film is the last one, when the "freaks" are chasing the "normal people" who mistreated them through the carnival, trying to kill them.  It's really creepy, and the only actual horror scene in the film.


Freaks has a 94% critic rating and an 88% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a 3.9/5 on Letterboxd, and a 7.9/10 on the International Movie Database (IMDB).  


Freaks began principal photography in October 1931 and was completed in December. Following disastrous test screenings in January 1932 (one woman threatened to sue MGM, claiming the film had caused her to suffer a miscarriage), the studio cut the picture down from its original 90-minute running time to just over an hour. Much of the sequence of the freaks attacking Cleopatra as she lies under a tree was removed, as well as a gruesome sequence showing Hercules being castrated, a number of comedy sequences, and most of the film's original epilogue. A new prologue featuring a carnival barker was added, as was the new epilogue featuring the reconciliation of the tiny lovers. This shortened version — now only 64 minutes long — had its premiere at the Fox Criterion in Los Angeles on February 20, 1932.