Freaks is a rarity, a horror film that horrifies rather than frightens. It was slated on its release in 1932, has been blamed for the downhill career trajectories thereafter of the key players, and was banned in many countries for more than thirty years. Yet in 1994 it was selected for the National Film Registry’s archives, and now enjoys both cult and canon status. It is a film both of its time (starring a strata of freak show performers who no longer exist on a public stage) and ahead of its time, extending the definition of ‘sympathetic characters’ way beyond a 1932 audience’s limits.

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Steve

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