Freaks (1932)

USA, 1932
35mm film, black and white
mono, English

An American horror film directed by Tod Browning.

Plot Summary

A travelling sideshow boasts a collection of human oddities paraded for public spectacle as freaks. One of them, the midget Hans, is madly in love with the gold-digging trapeze artist Cleopatra who is interested in him only because he’s saved a small fortune. Cleopatra and her lover, strongman Hercules, plan to have her marry Hans so that she will be left the money in his will. But at the wedding reception, Cleopatra is revolted by Hans’ friends in the sideshow who just want to accept her as one of their own. The angry freaks take revenge on the scheming Cleopatra and Hercules in the most horrific way imaginable…


* = uncredited

Tod Browning’s production of…
Copyright MCMXXXII [1932] by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Tod Browning’s production of… Controlled by Loew’s Incorporated
Producers: Tod Browning, Irving Thalberg [both uncredited]
Screenplay: Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon, Edgar Allan Woolf, Al Boasberg, John L. Balderston [all uncredited]
Suggested by Tod Robbins’ story Spurs
Assistant Director: Will Sheldon
Director of Photography: Merritt B. Gerstad
Editor: Basil Wrangell *
Sound: Gavin Burns *
Art Director: Cedric Gibbons *

Wallace Ford (Phroso)
Leila Hyams (Venus)
Olga Baclanova (Cleopatra)
Rosco Ates (Roscoe)
Henry Victor (Hercules)
Harry Earles (Hans)
Daisy Earles (Frieda)
Rose Dione (Madame Tetrallini)
Daisy Hilton, Violet Hilton (Siamese twins)
Schlitze (by herself)
Josephine Joseph (half woman-half man)
Johnny Eck (half boy)
Frances O’Connor (armless girl)
Peter Robinson (human skeleton)
Olga Roderick (bearded lady)
Koo Koo (by herself)
Rardion (the living torso)
Martha Morris (armless girl)
Zip & Pip (pinheads)
Elizabeth Green (bird girl)
Angelo Rossito (Angeleno)
Edward Brophy, Matt McHugh (Rollo brothers)
Ernie Adams [sideshow patron – uncredited]
Louise Beavers [maid – uncredited]
Albert Conti [landowner – uncredited]
Tom London *
Michael Visaroff [Jean the caretaker – uncredited]

Alternative Titles

Barnum – shooting title
Forbidden Love – re-release title
Loves of Freaks
The Monster Show – re-release title
Nature’s Mistakes – re-release title

She Freak (1967)

See also
La Cité des enfants perdus (1995)
Freaked (1993)
The Mutations (1973)

Extracts included in
Exploitation Classics (1985)
Fallen (1998)
A History of Horror: Part One Frankenstein Goes to Hollywood (2010)



  • Castle of Frankenstein no.4 pp.15-17
  • Castle of Frankenstein no.24 pp.8-12
  • The Dark Side August 1995 p.41 – review
  • Empire May 1995 p.120 – illustrated review
  • Films in Review June – July 1971 p.374 – review
  • The Missing Link no.3 (UK – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin August 1963 pp.110-111 – credits, synopsis, review
  • We Belong Dead no.28 (Spring 2021) pp.5-10 – illustrated article, review (by Andy Stanton)


  • 100 American Horror Films by Barry Keith Grant pp.77-78
  • 100 Cult Films by Ernest Mathijs & Xavier Mendik pp.94-96 – illustrated review by EM [Ernest Mathijs]
  • 101 Greatest Films of Mystery & Suspense by Otto Penzler pp.109-111
  • 500 Essential Cult Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Jennifer Eiss with J.P. Rutter and Steve White p.245 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • After Dracula: The 1930s Horror Film by Alison Peirse pp.52, 124
  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror (2nd edition) by Phil Hardy (ed) p.51 – illustrated credits, review
  • Censored Screams: The British Ban on Hollywood Horror in the Thirties by Tom Johnson pp.6, 30, 63, 65, 68-71, 77, 80, 88, 101, 165; 188 – notes; credits
  • Classic Horror Films and the Literature That Inspired Them by Ron Backer pp.122-125
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.21, 22, 189, 234
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.42, 255, 262
  • Fear Itself: Horror on Screen and in Reality During the Depression and World War II by Melvin E. Matthews Jr pp.51, 52-54, 56-59, 181
  • Golden Horrors: An Illustrated Filmography of Terror Cinema, 1931-1939 by Bryan Senn pp.52-68 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Horror! 333 Films to Scare You to Death by James Marriott & Kim Newman pp.37-38
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis pp.142-143
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.10-11 – illustrated credits, review
  • Recovering 1940s Horror Cinema: Traces of a Lost Decade by Mario DeGiglio-Bellemare, Charlie EllbĂ© and Kristopher Woofter (eds.) pp.116, 304-311, 314n3
  • Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.150 – credits
  • Sound Films, 1927-1939: A United States Filmography by Alan G. Fetrow p.211
  • Top 100 Horror Movies by Gary Gerani pp.92-93 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review

Other sources

  • BFI Southbank Guide December 2007 p.8 – illustrated listing
  • BFI Southbank Guide April 2014 p.5 – illustrated listing