Filmsite Movie Review
Freaks (1932)
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Plot Synopsis (continued)

The Wedding Feast:

Music and laughter prefaced the infamous and macabre "The Wedding Feast" banquet scene, introduced with its own inter-title card. Seated around a table set up under the big circus tent, a celebration was being held after the marriage of Hans to Cleopatra. She had tricked the wealthy, love-smitten midget Hans who was due to claim an inheritance, into marrying her - with evil intentions.

The feather-costumed Bird Girl, known as Koo Koo, shimmied and danced on the top of the table, to the music of the Hilton Siamese twins playing clarinets, and the Skeleton Man playing a harmonica - both directed by Angeleno, as Roscoe banged a wooden spoon. At the head of the table, the tuxedoed Hans was seated to Cleopatra's left, while Hercules (her real lover) was on her right. Champagne was flowing freely. Conspicuously absent were Phroso and Venus!

Surreptitiously (and seen in a closeup beneath the table at her feet), Cleopatra poured poison from a small vial into one of the 1914 champagne bottles, and then she encouraged Hans to drink: "Oh, come on, my little precious, come on, let's drink. Be happy! Drink!"

For entertainment, the Sword Swallower stood up, asked for a waltz, and inserted the entire length of a sword blade down his throat. Madame Tetrallini and Schlitze reacted with amazement and applause, but Frieda next to them was serious and stern-looking. A Fire-Eater, nicknamed Volcano, placed a flaming torch in his mouth, as the two pinheads Jenny-Lee and Elvira laughed.

Cleopatra drunkenly guffawed as she called out to the oblivious Hans next to her to hatefully mock their wedding night: "Our wedding night. What a thrill!" He returned the favor with a slurred, tipsy, unwarranted compliment: "Never before did I think I should be so lucky." She again laughed: "Lucky! (laughs) Ha-ha-ha. I am the lucky one! My little Hans," as she tweaked his chin. From the far end of the table, Frieda was sad and dismayed as she heard Cleo exclaim: "Oh, I am so happy!" but then turned to kiss Hercules - to Hans' embarrassment and consternation:

I'm so happy I even could kiss you, you big homely brute!

The more she drank, the more Cleo ramped up her outrageous behavior and revealed her true feelings for Hans - especially by name-calling: "Oh, my little green-eyed monster. My husband is jealous! Ha-ha. He loves me." Having seen enough insult, teary-eyed and broken-hearted Frieda left the table, causing Madame Tetrallini next to her to stand up, hurl an Italian insult at Cleo, and pursue after Frieda.

With the bottle of champagne in her hand, Cleo continued to pump Hans with liquor: "Come, my little lover. Drink to the happiness of your loving WIPE." Schlitze laughed wildly. Angeleno announced that the freaks should join in an unforgettable chant before passing around a 'loving cup' - a large fruit bowl filled with wine:

Attention! Attention! We'll make her one of us. A loving cup! A loving cup!

Josephine-Joseph started the rhythmic, repetitious chant (as she pounded her silverware on the table), as others (a dwarf, the Armless Girl, Angeleno, Johnny Eck, and the Bearded Lady, and more) added their voices:

We accept her, one of us.
We accept her, one of us.
Gooba-gobble, Gooba-gobble.
We accept her. We accept her.
Googoo-goggle, Googoo-goggle.
One of us, One of us.

Googoo-goggle, Googoo-goggle.

Angeleno stood on the table and poured the contents of a champagne bottle into the clear crystal 'loving cup' - it was passed around and shared by the freaks, including the pinheads. Hercules sarcastically laughed and mocked the freaks for their friendly gesture:

They're gonna make you one of them, my big duck!

Revolted and enraged by having to drink from the same cup as the freaks, Cleo wasn't amused and stood up stiffly at her chair, as the freaks continued to chant and took turns drinking from the loving cup held by Angeleno. She incurred the wrath of the tightly knit, loyal group of "nature's aberrations," when she was brought the loving cup for her turn. She again heard the words of Hercules: "They're gonna make you one of them, my dear." She became extremely disgusted by them, and exclaimed as she held the cup: "You dirty slimy freaks."

Cleopatra: You dirty, slimy freaks! Freaks, freaks! Get out of here! (She threw the contents of the drinking cup at them and ordered them out) You! Out!
Hercules: Get out! You heard her! Get out! Ha, ha, ha, ha.
Cleopatra: You filth! Make me one of you, will you?

Then adding further shock, she turned on her ashamed new husband and challenged, demeaned, and insulted him for being a childish juvenile who wouldn't do anything:

Well, what are you going to do? What are you - a man or a baby?

He pleaded with her to quit: "Please, please! You make me ashamed!" She yelled back: "Ashamed! You? Well, Holy Jumping Christmas!" And then she proposed what she could do, to match his childishness - give him a horse-back ride:

What must I do? Must I play games with you? Must Mamma take you horsey-back ride?

Hercules encouraged her to humiliate Hans, by picking him up and putting him on Cleo's shoulders for a parade-ride around the room:

Ha, ha, that's it! Horsey-back ride! Ha, ha, ha. Come, come, my little fly speck. Mamma is going to take you horsey- back ride. Giddy-up! Giddy-up, horsey!

Hercules grabbed a trumpet and followed after them as she staggered around the now-empty table for the perverse ride, with Hans bouncing around on her back.

The Aftermath of the Disastrous Wedding Banquet:

Afterwards, in Cleo's trailer, Hercules apologized to Hans for their drunken behavior at the wedding feast:

Hercules: Ah, forget it, Hans. She is sorry. I am sorry. Didn't I told you she was drunk? Didn't I told you we was only having a little fun?
Hans: Please. I- I understand - everything. (He wiped his face with a handkerchief)
Hercules: No, you don't. I'll tell ya, there's nothing between me and Cleo.
Cleopatra: Oh, be quiet! Haven't you done enough damage for one night! Don't you realize what I'm being accused of?
Hercules: I ain't gonna be blamed for something I have not done.
Hans: I don't blame you, Cleo. I don't blame Hercules. Only me, myself.
Hercules: Now you're talking! Talking like a man. Ha, ha. (He slapped Hans on the back, causing him to fall into Cleo's lap)
Cleo: (To Hercules) You fool!

At the window, Angeleno peered in and overheard Hans' confession of blame (and their poison plot), as the ashamed midget admitted he was bitter with himself, and not with them. Hans took responsibility for foolishly allowing himself to be duped by her, for not realizing that they were laughing AT him, and for not listening to Frieda's warning:

Hans: (to Cleo) Always, I should have known you would only laugh at me.
Cleo: My sweet! I'd rather fall from the 'trap' (trapeze) and break my neck, than hurt your feelings. Do you understand now? It was only joke.
Hans: Our wedding -- a joke. Now I know how funny it is. Hans, the midget. Hmmph. Hans, the fool! Tell it in divorce court. They'll laugh. Everywhere, they're laughing. Laughing! Laughing! Laughing! Oh!

Suddenly, Hans faltered and collapsed to the floor unconscious - from the effects of the poison. Hercules worried about a possible overdose: "You give him too much." Cleo disagreed: "No, I haven't. I know what I am doing. Come on. Pick him up." Hercules picked up Hans, put him in Cleo's arms, and she carried him into Hans' wagon. Prince Randian observed from behind a wagon wheel.

The Next Morning - Hans' Medical Condition:

All of the freaks were concerned about Hans' medical condition, as a doctor (Hooper Atchley) examined him. The Madame asked the cause of Hans' collapse and was bluntly told: "Poison...A very bad case of ptomaine poisoning." Her eyes turned suspiciously toward Cleopatra. An antidote of mustard water given to him by Cleopatra probably saved his life - and he was expected to recover. Outside, Frieda conversed with Venus about Hans' drunkenness: "Never before did he drink like that. But she kept making him and making him."

Venus approached Hercules, confronted him about the poisoning - accused him of conspiring with Cleopatra, and threatened to tell the "coppers" if Hans worsened, but he denied any involvement ("Your imagination's getting the best of you"):

Venus: You better get Cleo to tell the doctor what she put in that wine last night....The stuff she put in the wine!...You can't get away with it. I'll tell the coppers.
Hercules: So, hey, tell on your own people?
Venus: (defending the freaks) My people are decent circus folks. Not dirty rats what would kill a freak to get his money.

He grabbed her arm, calling her a "dirty little ---", but realized that all the freaks were staring in his direction and would be witnesses, so he removed his grip. She threatened a second time: "Coppers don't have imaginations, so I've been told. Don't make me have to go to 'em."

A Week Later - The Freaks' Revenge:

After almost a week had passed, the suspicious freaks continued to stand watch with a constant vigil outside, guarding and observing from every angle. Inside the trailer as Hans recuperated, he berated himself and declared that he was ready to forgive Cleo:

Hans: It has been a week tonight since we have been married. A week since I have said all those things to you.
Cleo: Don't, don't.
Hans: Never can I forgive myself for what I've said.
Cleo: I've forgotten it. Nothing matters, except for you to be well.
Hans: So good you are by me, Cleo.

Angeleno watched at the window as Cleopatra prepared his medicine - out of Hans' view, she doctored the prescription bottle by adding poison to it from a small vial. She brought a teaspoonful to Hans and fed it to him. When she turned away to put away the bottle, he spit out the medicine into a concealed handkerchief. Before she left, Hans (to avoid suspicion) expressed his sincere gratitude to her.

As Cleo walked across to another trailer, she noticed a group of freaks lurking and staring at her from under the stairs. Angeleno snuck into Hans' trailer and plotted with him to seek revenge on Hercules and Cleo. Hans whispered to Angeleno: "Tonight!" and was informed that his freak-friends were ready. Now feigning weakness, Hans had been coordinating retaliation against the deceitful pair all along, and reminded himself of how Cleo had been faking her love for him - he repeated her words to him: "I must hurry now and fix your medicine, my darling, or I will be late." And then he repeated her accusation against all of them: "Dirty - slimy - freaks!"

During a violent thunderstorm (while carnival workers packed up for their next destination), in the film's truly horrifying climax that played itself out in a muddy rainstorm, the group of freaks, led by Angeleno, protected Hans from his bride and sought retribution against her accomplice-lover: strongman Hercules. Johnny Eck crawled and slithered under the carnival wagons, and joined an assembled group of freaks gathered together, who had a pre-determined plan.

As the caravan of wagons moved out, Hercules was plotting on retaliating against Venus for threatening to report him to the authorities. Frieda told Phroso of her knowledge of Hercules' revenge - and he took action against the threat.

Simultaneously, as Cleo prepared Hans' medicine with some of his friends gathered around his bed, Angeleno was playing a strange melody on a flute. Hans revealed that he knew she was poisoning his medicine. He demanded: "Give me that little black bottle." To emphasize the seriousness of the situation, a second dwarf (named Bozo) casually but ominously pulled out a switchblade and polished it, as Johnny Eck also removed a gun from his waist-belt and wiped it with a cloth. Caught in the act, Cleopatra dropped her spoon, as Hans took the bottle from her and accused her of criminal murder:

You got this bottle of poison -- to kill.

Meanwhile, Hercules had left his trailer and was crashing through the window of Venus' trailer to attack her. She grabbed a small crowbar, as Phroso arrived to defend her and wrestled Hercules to the floor. The horse-drawn trailer was jostled when it hit a rut and stalled. At the same time, the trailer holding Hans, the freaks, and Cleo also flipped into a ditch. Cleo screamed as she broke free through a window of the overturned wagon and went running into the woods - closely pursued by the freaks in the mud - as she called out for Hercules. During the vicious hand-to-hand struggle between Phroso and Hercules in the other trailer, Hercules tortured Phroso by holding him down over a flaming hot wooden stove. The two fell out of the wagon into the mud. The strong-man had the advantage and began choking Phroso, when suddenly, Knife-Throwing Dwarf Bozo (Jerry Austin) aimed at Hercules and hurled a knife into his right side.

Wounded and writhing in pain, Hercules looked around and saw a menacing group, composed of dwarf freaks, a pinhead, a Crawling Girl (Edith) and Prince Randian slithering along, as they slowly approached in the mud toward him with knives in their hands (and teeth). Weakened, Hercules vainly attempted to get away by pushing himself backwards. Panic-stricken Cleo was also racing through the rainstorm, screaming for mercy from Hans and other vengeful freaks in pursuit.

Ultimately after the shocking two-pronged attack of the terrifying freak-"monstrosities" on their two separate enemies (archetypal examples of narcissistic masculinity and femininity), the virile and potent strongman Hercules was further knifed and castrated (offscreen), and Cleopatra was captured and bodily-mutilated.

[Note: The alarming film's most "offensive" segments (approximately 26 minutes) of the exploitative conclusion were excised by Browning at the orders of MGM, including the original closing scene of an emasculated (not murdered) Hercules singing in a tenor voice (after castration) in "Tetrallini's Freaks and Music Hall."]

Conclusion of Carnival Barker's Opening Scene:

The carnival barker concluded his speech at the end of the film - showing off and finally revealing the disfigured "Peacock of the Air" to a crowd of sideshow gawkers. He loudly admonished how she was stripped and denied of her perfect beauty!:

How she got that way will never be known. Some say a jealous lover, others that it was the code of the freaks, others the storm. Believe it or not, there she is...!

The tall and sexy Cleopatra had been transformed (off-screen) into a legless, tarred-and-feathered chicken with a scarred and bruised face, drooping mouth, and a squawking mouth. Her tongue was cut out, one eye gouged, and both legs had been hacked off. She had been surgically transformed into a squawking half-woman, half-chicken-hen (now almost midget-sized) for the sideshow by the vengeful freaks. She had been justly punished for her greed, cruelty and duplicity toward the freaks, and had become a grotesque version of a freak (as they had chanted, "One of us").

'Happy Ending' Epilogue:

A reconciling 'happy ending' or epilogue was tacked on - a guilt-ridden Hans was now retired and wealthy, and choosing to live alone in an elegant mansion. In the concluding version (with dialogue), the two estranged midget lovers, Hans and Freida, were reunited and reconciled in the estate's library, where Hans' Butler (Sidney Bracey) at first announced the arrival of Phroso (now married to Venus):

Butler: But, sir, they insist on seeing you.
Hans: In all these years, I've seen no one. Have I not told you that? Send them away.
Butler: Very good, sir.
Hans: I can't see no one. (Phroso barged in)
Butler: Excuse me, sir. You can't come in.
Phroso: Can't I?
Butler: No, sir. I have my orders.
Phroso: Who's gonna stop me?
Butler: Well, I have my orders.
Phroso: Well, I'm in, ain't I? (He entered with Frieda and Venus) (To Hans) Oh yes, you can, Hansie, old boy. There's someone you've just gotta see.
Hans: (to Frieda) Why did you come here?
Frieda: Please, Hans. Don't be angry. Venus and Phroso have been so kind by me.
Hans: Please, go away. I can't see no one.
Frieda: But, Hans, you tried to stop them. It was only the poison you wanted. It wasn't your fault. (Phroso and Venus decided to quietly leave) Don't, don't cry, Hans. Come to me, my Liebchen. Don't cry. Don't, Hans. Don't cry. I love you. I love you.

The two had finally found domestic happiness together. Hans was forgiven for marrying Cleopatra by a loving Frieda.

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