On Wednesday night I went to Amy Grimehouse Presents... Tod Browning's Freaks at the Book Club in Shoreditch. Having never seen the wonderfully sickening Freaks (1932) before, I think this was the best possible way to be introduced to it. The screening was held in the basement bar of the Book Club, a great little hole which has lightbulbs stuck on every inch of the ceiling, and was preceded by a Design-Your-Own Freak competition (our team's effort is below) and a Freaks based pub quiz (we came second and got a free drink each).
Before the film actually began, we were treated to the classic Drive-in movie countdown, which American readers might remember from their younger days (video below) and a couple of Betty Boop cartoons, one of which she blacked up in (!).
Then came the feature presentation - Freaks is a pre-code horror film which tells the story of a group of sideshow performers. A beautiful trapeze artist tricks the leader of the sideshow into marrying her - she's actually after his substantial inheritance. When the rest of the sideshow performers find out, they hatch a plot to get revenge on the 'normals'. Freaks is an enthralling, controversial and spine-chilling film, banned in the UK for 30 years and effectively ruining Browning's career. He probably thought it was worth it, though.
Amy Grimehouse Presents... are also going to be hosting special screenings of Showgirls and a double bill of Carrie and The Shining in the near future.