There was a brief break for people to continue grumbling about the film, although luckily only 70 min. of our life had been lost. I put on the “Freaks” documentary included on the DVD to entertain our non smoking friends and learned among other things that it was quite common for sideshow performers to marry each other. This was useful knowledge as I had to continually repeat, “it’s a soap opera,” as everyone else debated whether it was exploitative or not. Owen and my Fiancé decided to stick around after all so that they could make snide or belligerent comments through the duration of the film. This was unfortunate because two of us were actually very interested in what was happening, but it did yield some classic zingers including: “He’s a fucking potato sack with a head!” and “Cute?! He’s a mini-Marlboro man?!”
For those of you who were not subjected to “Freaks” in film school, it’s basically a fly on the wall tale of life in the sideshow, featuring real sideshow performers. Now, I don’t mean lame Jim Rose neo-carny sideshow performers with too many tattoos, I mean hardcore disfigured freaks. However, in attaching so much care to the mundane aspects of sideshow life, the petty jealousies and insecurities, Browning actually manages to make a very humane film. Although billed as a horror film it actually owes a lot more to the sappy melodramas of the period like “Stella Dallas”, except for the ending. There were actually three endings for the film, one too grotesque to have survived, one not quite as satisfactory which is the one in circulation, and one including an awkward coda where the emphasis was clearly on exonerating our hero of any wrongdoing. Why the makers of the DVD felt it necessary to replace this “lost” ending when it was decided by the filmmakers to cut it while the film was in circulation is beyond me, but the special features do put it in context.
Rumblings from the Peanut Gallery: The consensus on “Freaks” was summed up by our friend Damon who commented that it was good, and that he was glad it wasn’t long. My Fiancé was amazed at how similar Hercules, the evil strongman character was to every landlord he’s had save our current one. There was also an over abundance of “A Dirty Shame” jokes as 4 of the 6 people present had been at the preview screening the night before. However, probably the best and most shocking topic of the night was during “Doctor X” when I made a crack about the long discredited cure for female hysteria. For those not familiar it has to do with stimulation, like being proficient in languages (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Not that sex is shocking in and of itself, but what was shocking was that the film actually ended on a dirty joke of a very similar nature (remember the hand buzzer?…)
Mariko McDonald and her fiancé host a weekly film night in their apartment, affectionately known as the Den of Sin. It’s kinda like evil film school. Monthly screening schedules are available at http:filmgurlland.blogspot.com and if you happen to live in the Vancouver, BC area and are interested in catching a screening please drop her a line at filmgurl79@hotmail dot com. Suggestions, hate mail and cute pictures of cats also accepted.
And of course you can always offer up some juicy Back Talk>>>
Posted on October 20, 2004 in Features by Mariko McDonald
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- SIDESHOW STILL ALIVE
- ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: COMIC BOOK SCARES – JUNJI ITO ON FILM
- ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: CURSE OF THE SERPENTS
- ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: FANTASIA, BABY!
- ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: THE DIRTY ’30S
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