Trivia / Freaks

  • Banned in Britain: This movie was banned in the 1930s as it proved to be too scary for audiences at the time. Some viewers were emotionally scarred, and there are rumors that a female viewer had a miscarriage because of this movie.
  • Box Office Bomb: The film ran at a loss of $164,000 due to negative audience reactions (a lot of them bolted out in mid-showing) leading to its premature exit from theaters. The budget was of $316,000 or $350,000 depending on your source, which means the box office earnings were about $152,000 or $186,000.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: The famous "One of us! One of us!" scene has the freaks chanting more than just "One of us!" Specifically, it starts out with one of them saying "We accept her! One of us!" and then a few others joining in. Eventually it becomes "Gooble gobble! Gooble gobble! We accept her! We accept her! Gooble gobble! Gooble gobble! One of us! One of us!"
  • Creator Killer: The controversy surrounding the film in its initial release was enough to destroy the career of director Tod Browning.
  • Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: Notably, "Prince Randian" (who was born without limbs), Simon Metz (born with microcephaly, a smaller skull and brain), Minnie Woolsey (who suffered from Virchow Sekel Syndrome, a combination of skeletal malformation and dwarfism), and Johnny Eck (who had underdeveloped legs which he could hide under his clothing, making it appear he had no body below the waist).
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Olga Roderick, the bearded lady, opted to dye her hair jet black (despite Tod Browning requesting her to leave it natural).
  • Enforced Method Acting: A publicity example. While taking promotional pictures, Harry Earles kept making lewd remarks to Olga Baclanova, with the result that her looks of disgust are real rather than posed.
  • Executive Meddling: One of the saddest examples EVER, because the movie was so disturbing when it first came out that the MGM decided to cut most of it and transform the 90-minute-long film into... 60 minutes. Adding the first scene and the last one, when Hans and Frieda get back together. And no, you can't watch the original film because the scenes are lost forever. The most notable lost portion includes a shot of Hercules on display as a castrato singer (having had his genitals removed by the Freaks), after Cleopatra is shown as the chicken-woman.
  • Incestuous Casting: Romantic couple Hans and Frieda were played by siblings Harry and Daisy Earles. Naturally, the love scenes with them are really downplayed.
  • Old Shame: Before his death, Angelo Rossitto was asked about the film and this is what he said: "I don't want any publicity. When you look like me, walking down the street's enough publicity."
    • Almost all of the "freaks" bar Johnny Eck were eventually embarrassed by the film.
  • Society Marches On: The text crawl at the beginning of the movie talks about how throughout history, people with deformities were seen as omens of bad luck or representatives of evil. To spare their families the "curse" of raising them, malformed children were often left out to die of exposure to the elements. It also says that such a story will never be filmed again, as modern science and teratology is rapidly eliminating such people from the world. Considering the movie was made in 1932, a time when Eugenics was popular and before the rise of Hitler, it's not hard to see why the future seemed bleak for these people. Today, disabled people have more rights than at any other time in history.
  • Trope Namer: For One of Us.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Myrna Loy turned down the part of Cleopatra, finding the script offensive. Jean Harlow was also approached to play Venus, but declined.
    • Johnny Eck claims that Tod Browning wanted to make a sequel focusing entirely on his character.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Averted here, as they did not try to hide the fact that most of the cast is deformed.


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