Freaks, a 1932 movie starring real life human marvels, is available for download at Archive.org. It stars the handsome and talented, 18-inch tall Johnny Eck (shown here in black jacket and bow-tie). I first saw Freaks when I was about 15, and when Eck came running across the screen using his hands and arms, I was dumbfounded.
From Julie Ng's review at 11th Hour:
What always amazes me every time I watch it is its darkness, its audacity and well, the very fact that it even got released at all. Especially in the Production Code era of cinema. Despite the fact that some places did ban it and that MGM foolishly hacked out parts of it that are now lost forever, Freaks still got away with a lot, for its time. I'm not only talking about the casting of real so-called freaks, or of the implied violence, but of the racy dialogue and double entendres littered throughout the film. I once read a guy's review that compared his experience of watching Freaks with a watching a good porno movie. I won't go that far, because I think it's much smarter than any kind of smut, but its exploitative qualities are sort of similar. You are repulsed by what you are seeing, yet fascinatingly allured at the same time.Link
You may love this movie for its compassion towards the imperfections of nature, or you may believe it to be a sadistic and excessive piece of trash. And that, dear readers, is the real beauty and staying power of Freaks.The Ramones' trademark phrase "Gabba gabba hey!" came from Freaks.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects
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