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Sunday, March 12th, 2006

THE SHOW and FREAKS

THE SHOW is filled with signature Browning material including jealousy, revenge, murder and an array of bizarre and macabre imagery.  The problem with the film is not these elements, but rather how they all tie together.  The plot goes off the tracks and into cliched melodramatic territory and sentiment that really don’t mix well.  For example, when Cock Robin is on the run from the police, Salome takes him to her family home.  Once there, he learns that Salome’s brother is scheduled to be executed by hanging (the platform for the hanging and the prison are conveniently within view of the living room).  In order to spare Salome’s blind and dying father the heartache of knowing the truth, Cock Robin passes himself off as his long lost son.  The old man embraces him and concludes that he can die in peace having reconciled with him.  Meanwhile Salome keeps urging Cock Robin to turn himself into the police for having stolen money from a sheep hearder’s daughter.  There is one particularly bizarre scene in the film where “The Greek” tries to behead Cock Robin, who then shortly thereafter tries to behead Salome.  If that weren’t enough, the finale of the film includes “The Greek” trying to kill Cock Robin with a giant poisionous lizard.  Just the image of John Gilbert running from a big lizard was cringe worthy to put it mildly.  Finally the lizard bites “The Greek” who then shoots the lizard before dying. 


My conclusion was that EVERYONE involved deserved much better material.  In spite of this, it was still interesting to see this rarely screened film and if you are ever restless at 4am and it happens to air on Turner Classic Movies…and you happen to be coming down from a very bad trip or sobering up…then you might want to check it out.


I’d seen FREAKS 4 or 5 times, but the opportunity to see this twisted little gem on the big screen was irresistible to me!  I LOVE this film!  It is not cinematic brilliance or anything, but regardless it tends to occupy a very special place in my heart.  I tend to deeply relate to the misfits, outcasts, misunderstood and eccentric people of the world…..maybe because I am that way myself.  I have the biography of Tod Browning entitled “DARK CARNIVAL” by David J. Skal.  It is a fascinating look into Tod Browning’s life and influences.  I had David sign my book and in the front he inscribed, “To Karie, “One of us! One of us!”  To me, Tod Browning was a unique and gifted director who made a tremendous imprint on the genre of horror that is still felt today.  He was there at the beginning making audiences shocked, afraid, disgusted and captivated all at the same time.  Not to many people have ever been able to pull that off since.

Written by Karie (site owner) on 03/12 at 09:29 PM

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