Freaks is a rarity, a horror film that horrifies rather than frightens. It was critically destroyed on its release in 1932, blamed for the downhill career trajectories thereafter of the key players, and 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’s a film both of its time (starring a strata of freakshow 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. Continue reading “Freaks (1932)”
Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula, has been plundered time and time again for movie adaptations of varying quality and now seems like a particularly hard-trampled piece of intellectual property. However, back when this version was released on Valentine’s Day 1931 it still seemed fresh, a story with originality and panache —and sex. It’s hard to believe now that in 1931 moviegoers were unfamiliar with vampires and the rules governing their undead existence. To the average moviegoer at this time, a ‘screen vamp’ was a sultry actress, an exotic siren like Theda Bara, Pola Negri, or Olga Baclanova.
Dracula changed all that.
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