director Tod Browning
Some of the freakiest 64 minutes ever burned onto celluloid. It might not have been director Tod Browning’s best career move, but this searingly outre document is one for the ages. Surreal, super-real, it’s a glimpse into the world of the carnival freakshow, the lives of those who perform and live in that world, the real people of difference, the real, amazing humans whose physicality represent a horror but also an empathy and appreciation transcends the film’s time to now and doubtlessly all time hereafter.
The funny thing is that I wanted to watch this complex and challenging film with my kids. I can only imagine what it would have made me think and feel at their age.
I didn’t actually watch it with them. But I did watch it on TCM since it was on.
The ending, the image of the “freaks” hunting their revenge in the rain-splattered darkness. We’ll never know what all was cut and lost from this film but what remains, is a template or horror, the dispassionate, cruel lynch mob, justified as it may seem within the film’s narrative. It’s one of the greatest, most terrifying sequences in film.