Freaks is a 1932 American Pre-code film (pre Hayes code censorship) in which the title characters were actually played by by sideshow performers with real deformities. Directed and produced by Tod Browning, whose career never recovered really from it. Freaks has been described as standing alone in a subgenre of one.
Because of Browning’s success as the director of Dracula, he was given a considerable leeway for a major studio’s first horror film. In the film, the physically deformed “freaks” are inherently trusting and honorable people, while the real monsters are two of the “normal” members of the circus who conspire to murder one of the performers to obtain his large inheritance.
Among the characters featured as “freaks” were “The Human Skeleton”, “The Bearded Lady”; Frances O’Conner and Martha Morris – The armless wonders”; and conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. Among the microcephalics who appear in the film (and are referred to as “pinheads”) were Zip and Pip (Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow) and Schlitzie, a male named Simon Metz who wore a dress mainly due to incontinence. Also featured was Johnny Eck, the legless man; the completely limbless Prince Randian and Koo-Koo – The Bird girl, who had Virchow-Seckel syndrome or bird-headed dwarfism (?!).
Following disastrous test screening in January 1932 (one woman threatened to sue MGM, claiming the film had caused her to suffer a miscarriage), the studio cut the picture down from its original 90-minute running time to just over an hour. Much of the sequence of the freaks attacking Cleopatra (the villain), as she lays under a tree, was removed, as well as a gruesome sequence showing Hercules (The Strong-Man, & Cleopatras lover) being castrated. It’s current running time is just 64 minutes. No matter how much was cut it still managed to negatively effect people and lose money. The Kansas City Star said “There is no excuse for this picture. It took a weak mind to produce it and it takes a strong stomach to look at it.” Harrison Reports – “Any one who considers this entertainment should be placed in the pathological ward in some hospital.” With these kinds of reviews Tod Brownings career was doomed and he would never recover the fame he had pre-Freaks. It is indeed creepy and disturbing and absolutely great. If you’ve seen American Horror Story Freak Show recently you’ll see the impact this film has made (and sort of know how it ends).
THE FINAL REVENGE – CRAWLING IN THE RAIN
Linnea Eleanor “Bunny” Yeager (March 13, 1929 – May 25, 2014) Bunny Yeager started her career as a regionally famous model in Miami in the early 50’s appearing in over 300 magazines and publications (she won numerous local beauty pageants including Queen of Miami, Florida Orchid Queen, Miss Trailercoach of Dade County (!!!!), Miss Army & Air Force, Miss Personality of Miami Beach, Queen of the Sports Carnival and Cheesecake Queen of 1951.) Bunny augmented her modeling career with photography and meeting Bettie Page in 1954 she would find her muse. She would shoot over 1000 photos of Bettie creating her ‘girl next door image’ making Bettie the hottest pinup ever. Her shots are classics including the famous 1955 Playboy Christmas centerfold of Bettie kneeling at a small Christmas tree, naked except for a Santa hat. Bunny would also appear 5 times in Playboy as a model herself – one occasion actually shot by Hugh Hefner. Bunny would go on to shoot for mainstream magazines like Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Womens Wear Dailey in the 60’s. She is credited w/ popularizing the Bikini all over the world, primarily w/ her shots of Ursula Andress coming out of the waves in a small 2-piece from the James Bond movie Dr. No. She’s even credited with coining the phrase cheesecake (for photos of pinups and other scantily clad women). Nice work, if you can get it.
Raquel Welch (born Jo Raquel Tejada; September 5, 1940) – Raquel first came to the attention of the public with her role in the sci-fi film The Fantastic Voyage. The next role was the big one – 1 Million Years BC. The photo of her in a doe skin bikini became the poster in every boys room and made her an instant sex symbol. She would continue to play the sex symbol but never the stupid sex kitten. She was the tough hot chick. Throughout the 60’s she would play opposite some of Hollywoods biggest leading men – James Stewart, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra – to name a few. The 70’s would find her flirting with a singing career – releasing the dance single “This Girl’s Back In Town” (to no real success).She’d also win a Golden Globe for her role in the 1974 film The 3 Musketeers. She would go on to play roles in various TV shows, throughout the decade and into the 80’s (Mork and Mindy, Seinfeld) and act on Broadway and had a show in Las Vegas. Most recently she’s been seen in the TV movie House of Versace – looking unbelievable at the age of 73.
Back before he was an old leather chew toy Iggy Pop was a vaguely glammy, pill addled kid from Ann Arbor MI. that would bend over backwards – literally, to perform with his band. Formed in 1967 with the Ashton brothers (Ron & Scot) along w/ Dave Alexander, the band would release 2 poorly received LPs before they imploded from massive heroin use and general bad feelings. Iggy would go on to have an extremely long and varied career reforming the Stooges in 2003 with the Asheton brothers and James Williamson. Ron and Scott would pass away in 2009 and 2014 respectively. And yet, Iggy lives on.
This is not the source material for these movies and TV shows, oh no, these are all written after the fact to squeeze one last tiny bit of cash out of the public. Nothing wrong with that. Who doesn’t want to read the novelization of, say, Childs Play 3 to get just a bit more exposition about Chuckie’s motives and thought process. I doubt that these are still being written today (though Star Trek and Star Wars both have tons of ‘inspired by’ novels) but from the 60’s through the nineties they were everywhere, most notably the used book bins of Goodwill and Salvation Army.