Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Out Of The Office

I'm working on a couple of projects for Sharpologist, the online shaving magazine, that will take me out of the office for a couple of days, so if I don't respond to your comments, it's not from lack of love, just lack of access.

In the meantime, Halloween is rapidly approaching, so I'll be reposting reviews of some classic horror films from the early sound era. Some of the reviews are short, some long, and some, as those of you who've been following the Monkey for a while already know, are very long.

But let's start with a short one, a mini-review of Tod Browning's Freaks.

You don't want to miss Freaks, which while a cult movie that for years was more spoken of than seen, is perhaps the most modern of all the horror movies that were released during the early sound era. Helmed by Tod Browning, who not only directed Dracula but also ten Lon Chaney vehicles, Freaks is a story of exploitation and revenge centering on the lives of those circus performers once described as "sideshow freaks." Despite Browning's sensitive treatment of his stars, the combination of sex, horror and forbidden love proved too much for audiences and censors alike, and after a brief release, the film was withdrawn from circulation for more than thirty years.

Admittedly the acting is at times amateurish, but if you like your horror genuinely disturbing, this is a must-see movie. And I don't mean faux disturbing like Hostel or Saw or any of those other slaughterhouse cheesefests with stock characters and recycled plot lines. Freaks is too real to dismiss as playacting and no pose of ironic detachment can shrug off the violence done to the "freaks" and in turn by them. It's a movie that will get under your skin—or anyway, it got under mine.

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