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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gooba Gabba, We Accept You, One Of Us, One Of Us

I had three really good ideas for Thorzul's Nighmares on Carboard II contest, but due to unforseen circumstances and general procrastination I missed out. I'm going to keep my other ideas in my pocket for next year, but the one I did the most prep work on had to do with this movie:

I friggin love this movie. It sure isn't the most PC movie ever made, but if you're a fan of old school horror movies, weirdness, and good triumphing over evil, this is the movie for you. The film was directed by Tod Browning who was best known for directing Dracula and a long time collaboration with Lon Cheney. When Dracula made mad bank at the box office MGM's wunderkind Irving Thalberg recruited Tod (with whom he had worked before) to come up with a real horrorshow film to get the studio into this lucrative market. So Tod came up with a film about circus sideshow freaks who get their revenge on the glamourous performers who try to rob and murder one of their own.

It didn't go over all that well. Audiences were horrified (well, duh, it's called a horror movie) Thalberg was mortified and Louis B. Mayer absolutely despised it, resulting in Tod getting Barton Finked right out of the movie business. A big chunk of the movie (including strongman Hercules getting turned into a soprano by angry freaks) was cut, the movie was banned and it ended up being a huge disaster. It now has a better reputation after being rediscovered in the '60s and is now a cult classic. And why not? The story of a bunch of misfits rising up against the popular bullies who taunt and abuse them strikes a chord with a whole lot of people. If you love the Ramones, you can probably identify with this movie.

The original idea (which was probably influenced to some degree by these guys) was to do a classic old school horror movie non-sports trading card set in a contemporary trading card set design. I love the movie Freaks and the 1932 U.S Caramel Baseball and Presidents sets are certainly classic and easy to MSPaint. So, I created this:

Schlitzie! The most lovable pinhead of all. Yes, even including this guy. Schlitzie's practically a rock star in this film and his performance really struck me the first time I saw this film in a college film class. A long time side show performer, Schlitzie worked for several circuses incliding Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey and acted in a few movies. Schlitzie still has fans today, and in 2008 members of findadeath.com chipped in to give his grave a headstone. Here's Schlitzie's big scene from Freaks:

I had planned to do cards for the rest of the cast including Johnny Eck, Prince Randian, Harry Earles, Angelo Rossitto and Koo Koo the Bird Girl but those will have to wait for another time.

Here's the card that provided a template for the set, an original "super short printed" card of William McKinley. The story behind that card is a whole other post. He does look a little like Boris Karloff though... Happy Halloween!


Thorzul said...

That's scary.

I was wondering if I'm the only card blogger out there who owns "Freaks" on DVD. I hope not.

dayf said...

I don't have it on DVD, but I've taped it off of Turner Classics twice. Are there extras on the DVD? Deleted scenes perhaps?

Thorzul said...

Special Features:
Commentary by author David J. Skal
Documentary "Freaks: Sideshow Cinema"
Special Message prologue added for theatrical reissue
3 Alternate Endings

Ryan Cracknell said...

I've got the DVD too. I think it's time to give it a spin again sometime soon.