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Freaks [Import]

4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling Masterpiece Gets Under Your Skin Oct. 22 2003
For anyone who thinks "Freaks" is merely exploitation, guess what? You're right. Cinema is all exploitation. To exploit means "to make the most of" or "achieve highest expression," and that is exactly what director Tod Browning does with his 1932 masterpiece, "Freaks." He takes a rather simple story: greedy trapeze artist foiling a love-struck midget into a marriage of convenience, and makes it special. First, he populates it with real-life "freaks," (a term that in today's p.c. world makes one shudder) allowing them to speak their own voices. Sure, their acting is not exactly Oscar-caliber, but neither is that of the ensemble cast of Visconti's neorealistic, "La Terra Trema," and yet, the latter film ranks amongst the world's all-time greats. Browning's film is not a horror film by any means. It may be frightening or disturbing, but its effectiveness stems from a deeper realm of cinematic mastery. Browning seems to use more artistic freedom here than he had been allowed in his earlier Universal classic, "Dracula," and the result is pure magic. While "perfect" is not an adjective that one would readily apply to "Freaks," (and by the way, even "Citizen Kane" contains some interesting technical and/or creative flaws), let it be said that like other chilling classics, such as Herk Harvey's "Carnival of Souls" (1960), and Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960), "Freaks" may well be one of the most inspirational movies for aspiring filmmakers and avid film buffs ever made. It is complex in its simplicity; it is tragic in its purity; and ultimately, it is the stuff that celluloid dreams are made of... just ask David Lynch if "Freaks" entered his mind while he was making "The Elephant Man."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars genuine classic Feb. 4 2002
Format:VHS Tape
They say people ran screaming out of the theatres when this movie was first shown back in the 30s. What they don't tell you is that this is not a horror movie. This movie is actually intended to show real freaks in real life; the story plot is probably the most unrealistic part of the movie, even though it's standard soap opera and you might even watch this same plot on TV today.
What makes this movie interesting isn't the plot, it's the actors, or I should say the people acting out the story. Because most of them aren't really acting. The leading villainess is probably an actor, I don't know. And there are probably a few other real actors here. But most of the "actors" are real freaks: the pinheads, the midgets, the siamese twins, the human torso. The pinheads don't need to act out their confusion and inarticulation; it's real. The midgets don't have to act out their social isolation. The siamese twins don't have to act out their physical and mental fusion. And the human torso doesn't have to practice lighting a cigarette with no arms and no legs to make it look real.
Because these "actors" are real freaks. And, more importantly, they are real human beings. Which is why the title "Freaks" is so ironic; this is a movie about human beings who also happen to be freaks.
Seventy years ago, people ran away screaming because they didn't want to believe it was real, and this movie was banned for a long time. Today, I'd like to think that people watching this movie have more understanding about the real message in this movie, that a human freak is not just a freak, but a human being also.
This is not a horror movie. And it's not an exploitation movie. It's in a category all by itself. It will fascinate you and repell you, and hopefully make you think.
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todd browning's films too often get compared to james whale's films and, consequently, come up short.
while i am the first to agree that browning's 'dracula' artistically pales to whale's 'frankenstein', i think the point is rather mute.
the quintessential browning film is here in 'freaks' and it does indeed contain the blazing, unique, twisted visison of todd browning.
yes, the film also has his flaws, the main one beingt he stilted dialogue.
browning was a 'silent director' and this film's major flaw
(like 'dracula' )is the fact that it isn't a silent.
in only scene does the dialogue work and that is in the chorus like 'we accept her' scene; a scene to send chills down yuor spine even today.
but, to harp on the flaws, detracts from what this so obviousely is; a flawed masterpeice from a true auteur.
it's history is well knwon.
thalberg ordered browning to come up with a film to outdo frankenstein and dracula.
much to thalberg's chagrin, browning delivered freaks and mgm promptly shelved it.
i recall reading much about the film as a child. when the day of vcrs came round blackhawk films announced they were carrying this for a hundred dollars and i promptly ordered it.
it was one of those films that after reading about it for so long i was a little bit dissapointed and at the same time, floored, which i expected to be.
if you accept the flaws of the film you will be as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good flick.....weird man Feb. 26 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Whoa! That's all you can say after watching this weird, yet hypnotizing flick. Freak after freak are paraded in front of the camera as a tale of love and greed unfolds. I'm sure back in the day, the ending shocked everyone, but by today's standards it was nothing spectacular. It's the freaks themselves that shock the viewer. The pinheads are very disturbing. Watch as a man with no legs and no arms rolls his own cigarette.
Basiclly the plot is this. A beautiful (and I mean HOT!) blonde trapeze artist fools a midget into marrying her. All along she has a lover and the two of them are only interested in the midgets fortune and want to kill him. Well the freaks find out and avenge their friend without mercy. The beautiful woman is transformed into a friggin' retarded, legless, chicken! This movie will leave you feeling that you just came down off drugs. Pretty powerful for an early thirties flick. But considering it came from the same guy that directed Frankenstein, it's not that surprising.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A curiosity in the history of filmaking-no more,no less
Freaks,released in February 1932,was and is a title that says as much about itself as it does about its' subject matter.It was a curiosity then and remains so to this day. Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2009 by Robert Badgley
4.0 out of 5 stars You Will Never See Another Movie Quite Like Freaks
Creepy. Disturbing. Difficult to sit through. Compelling. Thought provoking. Touching. Maybe even a little bit brilliant. Read more
Published on July 17 2004 by J
5.0 out of 5 stars Holds up as a disturbing masterpiece...
Too bad there isn't an affordable way to own the DVD of this incredible film. It still manages to shock and disturb nearly a century after its release and has timeless lessons... Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2004 by Nelson Aspen
5.0 out of 5 stars BRING IT BACK INTO PRINT!
PLEASE bring this back into print in some format. VHS, DVD, I don't care. I love this movie but I just can't afford $50 plus S&H for a used copy. Read more
Published on Dec 30 2003 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Old But Awesome!
This film came out the year my dad was born....1933....
its amazing to me to watch a movie this old and still find it
thrilling and a bit scarey. Read more
Published on Nov. 22 2003 by steven bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars AN UNIQUE FILM
Published on Nov. 10 2003 by Rob
5.0 out of 5 stars Where Is It
Does anyone know who the distributor of this DVD is? Please don't tell me that some politically-correct types are the reason this has still not come to market. Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Enough Waiting!
Read other reviews for opinionated synopses and descriptions - I'm just demanding this cult classic make it to DVD sometime during my lifetime!! Read more
Published on Oct. 25 2003 by R. Aronin
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and Stupid!
This movie is in no way scary, disturbing, or gross. The acting is pitiful, and the ending creates chuckles instead of screams. I was bored by every single minute of this movie. Read more
Published on June 29 2003 by Tom Servo
3.0 out of 5 stars Great, but... not so great.
Lets face it, this is a horribe movie. But I can't stop watching it!
Published on Jan. 14 2003 by Ben Sumner
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