The Story, in a nutshell: In a circus the trapeze artists marries a sideshow midget, because she learns he’s set for a great inheritance. She slowly poisons him, but when the other sideshow performers find out, the come after her.
Reason it’s awesome: The reason Freaks isn’t rated is because it’s a Pre-Code horror movie. By 1934 motion pictures had to conform to standards of decency – no blatant sex, violence, criminal behavior, profanity, drugs… hell, you couldn’t even show childbirth. You know how films in the 40’s and 50’s always show married couples fully dressed with separate beds or separate bedrooms? Yup, that’s because of the Motion Picture Code.
So, Freaks is groundbreaking because it actually shows sideshow performers that people consider freaks – bearded women, conjoined twins, midgets, Microcephalics, and people without arms, legs, or both. It was extremely controversial when it was released, first of all for showing people who aren’t “normal”; second of all for the story where the “freaks” are good people, and the “normal” people are the monsters.
Humor level: 1/5
Violence level: 2/5
Scary level: 4/5