Now this is a classic gem that everyone should enjoy! It centers around a group of circus freaks and the bond they share with each other. But when Cleopatra(Olga Baclanova) and her lover, Hercules(Henry Victor), plot to kill the owner of the circus(who happens to be a midget) and take his fortune, the rest of the circus freaks plan their own form of justice.
Now why am I talking about this film. I think this film is an important part of horror film history. This film had real circus freaks in it and was actually banned in most parts of the United States and has been cut and re-cut. This film was made in 1932, so there was a certain standard to be held for audiences. In the original version of the film the Freaks castrate Hercules so he becomes a castrato and they also disfigure a helpless Cleopatra and turn her into a human duck. Apparently this was took much for some audiences to handle because one woman threatened to sue MGM for causing a miscarriage. Yikes!
That goes to show how big a grip audiences have on a film. So instead of the horrifying mutilations of Hercules and Cleopatra, we get a happier ending with Hans the midget(played by Harry Earles) reunites with his former fiancee and lives happily ever after. We still see Cleopatra as the human duck but we don’t see how she got that way.
We also see, what could be called, real circus freaks. Frances O’Connor played the armless woman and she was born without arms. Daisy and Violet Hilton were real conjoined twins, and Prince Randian played the human torso; he was born without arms or legs. That adds to the horror, knowing that the freaks were real. Don’t you think?