Another weekend and another marathon of high quality vintage horror films on Turner Classic Movies; my pick this week is the 1932 film Freaks (trailer here).

Tod Browning’s film Freaks offers a window into a world we seldom see these days, the carnival sideshow.  Many of the actors are actual sideshow performers possessing of various physical attributes that fall outside the norm; the film was considered too disturbing for some viewers, and was banned in many locations upon release.  Though the horror factor may be sedate by today’s standards, there is some serious novelty to this film due to Browning’s casting choices, I find the real value in viewing this movie is Freaks has become part of our cultural landscape and has been parodied as recently as a couple weeks ago in The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror XXIV”.  Please don’t let my assessment make you think there aren’t some genuinely scary moments in this film, there are!

I have seen Freaks enough times the shock value has worn off a bit and I can pay attention to the message Browning, a former sideshow performer, intended to communicate; sometimes the weak, lowly, and deformed are noble and kind, and the beautiful people are the real monsters, willing the take advantage of whomever they choose, to feed their endless need for self-aggrandizement.  Maybe this film should be mandatory viewing for certain reality TV stars.

If you’re not looking for novelty, or cultural relevance and just want to get a good scare, watch or DVR Burn, Witch, Burn (AKA Night Of The Eagle trailer here), I saw this when I was five or six and will occasionally still have nightmares!

Friday October 18

8:00 PM Burn, Witch, Burn (1962)

9:45 PM The Tomb Of Ligeia (1964)

11:15PM The Seventh Victim (1943)

Saturday October 19

12:30 PM Curse Of The Demon (1958)

2:15 AM I Walked With A Zombie (1943)

6:00 AM The Masque Of Fu Manchu (1932)

8:00 PM Freaks (1932)

9:15 PM Mark Of The Vampire (1935)

10:30 PM The Devil Doll (1936)

– John Morton