Terror, Horror And Revulsion In Tod Browning's Freaks

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Tod Browning’s Freaks flings itself in-between the different categories of Terror, Horror, and Revulsion, sometimes splicing and mutating the different categories into indefinable, unrecognizable, terms. Browning’s aim for his film is not to clear anything up, using the themes of: us vs. them, good and evil, humans and monsters, etc. to create understanding or enlighten people; and it certainly is not a film promoting the message, “Freaks! They’re just like us!” His intentions, rather, is to stir the witches brew, disturbing the layer of grime deep within us, bringing something to the surface, making us look at it in it’s bulging eye, and having us decipher or at least acknowledge the thoughts and reactions Freaks generates in us for ourselves. …show more content…
While Cleo and Strongman are portrayed as evil, the final scenes of the film turn the freaks into something more sinister. They lurk under stairs, peer through cracks in the walls, and inch slowly closer to their victims who can never escape. Though no one would object that Cleo and Hercules got what they deserved after given multiple chances, there is something sad (and horrifying) in the freaks giving into what society imagines them to be. The freaks dredging themselves through the mud in order to commit murder becomes the only time in the film where Cleo’s words come true. In that moment, they become “disgusting, slimy, freaks.” Another thing to point out is that Venus and Bozo are never really apart of the scheme to kill Cleo and Hercules. For example, Venus never threatens Hercules with life or death or even a good beating, rather she tells him that she will tell the police that Cleo poisoned Hans’ wine. Bozo only attacks Hercules when he tries to kill Venus for knowing too much. Neither of them is included in the murder of Hercules, and while they perhaps might have been okay with the dismemberment, tar, and feathering of Cleo, we never know for

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