Tuesday, Oct 25: 7:30 pm
A special 90th anniversary double feature with two of the most infamously shocking pre-Code horror films of all. Both movies – seething with body horror, deviant sexuality, gruesome violence and revenge – remain disturbing and controversial to this day. Plus spooky shorts and cartoons. All on 16mm film!
Few films have the scandalous pedigree of FREAKS (1932). With a cast including 20 actual sideshow performers, many with severe deformities, its unflinching yet sympathetic portrayal first invites and then subverts exploitational voyeurism, while plunging us into a pitch-black tale of betrayal, murder, and horrific revenge. Pulled from release and banned for decades, the film destroyed the career of veteran director Tod Browning. Flawed, marred further still by censorship, beset with its loathsome reputation, FREAKS nonetheless surmounts its baggage to stand as a thought provoking and truly unforgettable singularity.
PLUS: A SECRET SECOND PRE-CODE SHOCKER (also 1932) – too horrifying to reveal! Similarly reviled upon release for its sadistic brutality and perverse sexuality, future remakes have failed to capture the dark magic of amoral ferocity at its heart. Decried as “repulsive,” “unnatural” and “putrid,” it was banned outright in 14 states, numerous countries, and no less than three times in Britain! But with masterful expressionistic cinematography, standout performances and grimly enduring themes, it has evolved from feral orphan to an acknowledged classic.
Part of our annual horror series All Monsters Attack!
“Full of iconic moments of pure cinema, pulp horror, carny noir, perverse melodrama – FREAKS is still unclassifiable after many decades. Still sick, twisted, perverse and profoundly human. Pickled in a jar of bile, it contains Browning’s view of the world at its purest.” Guillermo Del Toro, Sight and Sound
“No excuse for making a production of this kind.” Outraged exhibitor, 1932