This is a Roger Corman classic. It stars Corman muse, Dick Miller, in his first role playing the recurring “Walter Paisley” character. Set in the beatnik world, Miller plays an uninspired artist trying to fit in with the cool cats and hep daddies. He doesn’t discover his true talent until he finds a dead cat and covers its body in clay. He shows his piece to a couple people who laud him and his artistic capabilities. Seeing how easy it is to create art and garner the respect he so long desired, Miller moves onto bigger subjects: humans. Soon, he’s displaying clay-covered dead bodies to the unsuspecting beatnik crowd, to their (and his) delight.
The movie is a quick and fun 66 minutes. If there were any movie to get you started on Corman, this would be it.
One of the first shocking horror films, Freaks cast actual sideshow performers in lieu of using make-up or prosthetics. The movie caused a huge controversy considering the material, which boggles my mind because it came out in 1932: weren’t sideshows and weird shit like that popular in the early 30s? I digress. The film was not received well, and it pretty much put an end to director Tod Browning’s career. However, it has since become somewhat of a classic.
In the film, a trapeze artist seduces a little person after learning he has inherited a large sum of money. They eventually marry, but the trapeze girl slowly poisons the little guy, intent on running off with his money — and the sideshow strongman. However, the other “freaks” catch wind of her diabolical plot and they quickly put a stop to her evil ways.
The original movie was apparently pretty gruesome, with the freaks castrating the strongman. Pretty heavy stuff for 1932. The material was so bad, in fact, that MGM insisted they cut the movie down from 90 minutes to 64 minutes! That’s a hell of a bite.
A must see for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the genre.