Freaks (1932)



Critic Consensus: Time has been kind to this horror legend: Freaks manages to frighten, shock, and even touch viewers in ways that contemporary viewers missed.

Movie Info

The genesis of MGM's Freaks was a magazine piece by Ted Robbins titled Spurs. The story involved a terrible revenge enacted by a mean-spirited circus midget upon his normal-sized wife. In adapting Spurs for the screen, writers Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon, Edgar Allan Wolf, and Al Boasberg retained the circus setting and the little man-big woman wedding, all the while de-vilifying the midget and transforming the woman into the true "heavy" of the piece. German "little person" Harry Earles plays … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon, Edgar Allan Woolf, Al Boasberg
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 10, 2004


as Cleopatra

as Phroso

as Venus

as Roscoe

as Hercules

as Madame Tetrallini

as Siamese Twin

as Siamese Twin

as Rollo Brother

as Bearded Lady

as Boy With Half a Tors...

as Hindu Living Torso

as Himself

as Herself

as Pinhead

as Herself

as Living Skeleton

as Bird Girl

as Half Woman-Half Man

as Armless Wonder

as Human Skeleton

as The Living Venus de ...

as Angeleno

as Stork Woman

as Monsieur Duval, the ...

as Jean the Caretaker

as Sideshow Barker

as Sideshow Patron

as Rollo Brother

as Themselves
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Freaks

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Critic Reviews for Freaks

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (7)

[Boasts] some of the most terrifying scenes ever consigned to film.

Full Review… | September 28, 2015
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

One of the most powerful films ever made about the need for humanity and solidarity in the face of cruelty and oppression.

Full Review… | June 8, 2015
Time Out
Top Critic

Freaks is sumptuously produced, admirably directed, and no cost was spared. But Metro failed to realize that even with a different sort of offering the story still is important.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Director Tod Browning, one of the few truly individual directors in the U. S., is a specialist in horror.

Full Review… | October 7, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

If the heart of the horror movie is the annihilating Other, the Other has never appeared with more vividness, teasing sympathy, and terror than in this 1932 film by Tod Browning.

Full Review… | September 24, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer definitely has on its hands a picture that is out of the ordinary.

Full Review… | August 8, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Freaks

Classic horror director Tod Browning's Freaks is a benchmark horror picture that has been praised for being a truly unique horror film. The controversy around this is quite legendary and before its release got cut significantly in an attempt to censor its content. Director Tod Browning used real sideshow performers with real deformities as a basis for his cast. In turn, Freaks has an authentic feel to it that if you really think about is quite horrifying and ultimately unsettling. This is a well executed picture that was banned and vilified and it ended the career of a promising director who's most famous work was Dracula starring Bela Lugosi. With every horror film that has been released since, it's hard to think that Freaks caused such astir upon release. If you love classic horror films, then give this one a shot. By today's standards it's a fairly harmless movie, but for horror fans that want to watch a classic piece of horror history, this is a must see film that will certainly appeal to genre fans. The film is very good, but will not appeal to everyone. However, fans should appreciate this gem for what it is, and there are some good performances here, and the tone of the movie is disturbing and it makes for quite the viewing experience. I think it's too bad that the film cost Browning's career, as you only imagine what other classic he could have made. Freaks is not perfect, but in terms of classic horror cinema, it is a picture that helped shape the genre for years to come. The fact that Browning has used real people with deformities is what has made this one stand out above other films, and it is what makes this picture so unique and shocking the process.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer


A pre-code horror film from legendary director Tod Browning, Freaks lives on in infamy for its perverse message, timeless lines, and use of circus sideshow freaks at the height of their fame. At the time Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circuses made it a point to include freak shows along with an animal tent and the three ring big tops of yore. These "freaks" were often well paid and lived their retirement years very comfortably, especially those lauded as the most unusual such as conjoined twins, human torsos, and giantesses. In the film many of the most famous and well paid freaks in the country were cast, including Prince Randanian, and the Doll Family, including Dolly and Harry Earles as the couple torn apart by Cleopatra's obnoxious money hungry plot with strongman Hercules. The main focus of the film is that the freaks are regarded as trifle oddities and not true people by the villainous Cleopatra, and she is hunted down and paid for the crimes she commits against a dwarf who looks eerily like a small boy but is actually a full grown man. The film itself is very progressive in showing these sideshow performers not just as regular people, but also showing the hurt inflicted by those with little thought for others' feelings in a time without political correctness. It was interesting to watch the many feats of the performing freaks, those afflicted with problematic birth defects, and the now defunct lives of freak show performers, today not prevalent in society because most states ban freak shows from operating. The film doesn't build successfully to the final hideous climax at the end, because the rest of the film focuses on the characters as people and not monsters. None of them seem able to do the deed attributed to Cleopatra's downfall and therefore it's an unbelievable premise. Their creepy chanting at the wedding banquet and the steely resolve in their eyes as the thunder rips across the sky is believable but doesn't make sense, and deserved some of that iconic chanting. The beginning half of the film is unusually trimmed in humor, and includes a love story between an aerialist and a clown. The ending isn't even very horrific, but instead comical, and the additional prologue they tacked on was more confusing than anything. Even the beginning spiel that introduces the film is morose and certainly insulting to the performers. Iconic and interesting, but not the horror classic I was expecting.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

This is a very cool movie. It has real people from circuses and a great story. The mixture of authenticity and a fantastic story makes for such a great movie.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

Freaks Quotes

– Submitted by Ceara R (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Ceara R (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

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