Director: Tod Browning
Screenwriter: Tod Robbins
Stars: Wallace Ford, Harry Earles, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Roscoe Ates, Henry Victor
Tod Browning stands as one of the horror genre's most important directors, simply for making the 1931 classic Dracula, which stars the iconic Bela Lugosi and ranks as one of the greatest monster movies of all time. But what's less celebrated about Browning is the fact that, prior to Dracula, he was impressively prolific, shooting nearly 50 films categorized in all genres.
Browning bravely went for an unheard of kind of realism when casting his next horror film, Freaks, sidestepping costumes and makeup and hiring real-life physically deformed people to play a bunch of circus oddities. For audiences of the time, who'd never seen anything like that before in a movie, Freaks was too shocking to stomach. The film was banned in the United Kingdom and Browning saw his stock in the moviemaking world plummet to the point of no return.
Those who've yet to see Freaks should seek it out immediately, for both its stunning audacity and one-of-a-kind creepiness. Browning's daringness warrants endless acknowledgement. —MB