Tuesday, March 10, 2009

“One of us, one of us! Gooble gobble, gooble gobble!”

March 10, 2009
Posted by Noah

You either know exactly what I’m talking about above, or what you already suspected has truly come to pass; that I’ve lost my mind. For anyone with money on the latter, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it’s a clear reference to the 1932 cult classic horror movie Freaks. See it once and you’ll never forget it, and you’ll definitely find yourself chanting the title quote of this post at some point in your life. I’m not saying I like it; it’s simply a fact…

It also happens that the original 1932 movie poster for Freaks is one of the most sought after, and rarest posters in all of the hobby. It also just so happens that Heritage has one – maybe the only surviving one, who knows… – in the March 20 Vintage Movie Poster Auction. It is a rare gem of the highest order, and truly one of the greatest horror movie posters ever to surface. This particular one is an insert poster, about 14-inches across and three feet high, so not massive, but a true beauty from a movie that is almost 80 years old and still as difficult to watch today as it was back then.

“It’s one of a kind, that’s for sure,” said Grey Smith, our Movie Poster Director. “What’s there really to say? It’s just an exceedingly rare poster. MGM realized they made a mistake, pulled it, and let it sit in their vaults for 15 years, or more, before giving it to an independent distributor.”

One of the account executives that I work with here in Marketing, Eric, overheard me talking about the movie with our Marketing VP, Debbie.

“I’ve seen that movie,” he said. “That’s, uh…. That’s a disturbing movie.”

Eric keeps it pretty low-key, so I can only assume he was shaking and cowering on the inside at the memory.

Freaks was so gruesome, and so over the top, and people were so tweaked by it that MGM first tried to cut the movie from 90 minutes to 60 to minimize the outrage, and ultimately shelved it. In the hands of independent distributors, it became a true cult classic in the 1960s and 1970s, and then in the 1980s and 1990s kids like me and my brothers, and countless thousands of others like us, were able to rent it from the local video store. I pored over the movie with friends obsessively during many a late night in college – a few beers or a bottle were sometimes involved – and we invariably drew the ire of neighbors when one or two people would get the bug to take up the chant of “Gooble gobble, gooble, gobble!”

The movie, directed by Dracula director Tod Browning – it effectively ended his career – is dramatically no great shakes. In a nutshell: Blonde bombshell trapeze artist falls for strongman. They plot to seduce the sideshow midget, who stands to gain a large inheritance. Complications ensue. Couple is found out. Freaks attack couple, mangling them. The moral? It’s not the physical freaks who are the real freaks. It’s the “normal” couple with their dastardly intent. The original version of the movie had the freaks castrating the strong man and completely disfiguring the trapeze artist, to the point where she had to live in the side show as The Squawking Chicken Lady. So un-PC.

The freaks in Freaks are all real, every last one of them. And yes, it is still hard to watch. It is only necessary, however, to watch but once to have it indelibly seared in your brain in perpetuity.