Movie-A-Day #193: Freaks (1932).
Today marks the birth of director Tod Browning, Hollywood’s earliest master of the macabre. His best films, mostly made with Lon Chaney before Chaney’s early death, weren’t necessarily horror films, but did cover subject matter that was grim and uncomfortable. The closest comparison among today’s filmmakers might be David Cronenberg, or maybe Tim Burton, but with less whimsy and more genuine menace. “Freaks” was his masterwork, but also ultimately his undoing. It’s too bad he didn’t live quite long enough to see its cultural rediscovery in the 1960s and the subsequent reappraisal of him as an important director and not just a washed-up alcoholic.