Original 'Freaks' movie poster could fetch $80,000 in rare poster auction



2016-11-01 13:50:13

A rare original poster for the cult horror classic Freaks could fetch up to $80,000 in an upcoming sale of vintage movie posters in Dallas.

The poster is one of the leading highlights of Heritage Auctions' autumn Vintage Poster sale, which also includes everything from Casablanca to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

In 1932, MGM decided they wanted a horror picture to rival those such as Dracula and Frankenstein being produced over at rival studio Universal.

They hired Dracula director Todd Browning and screenwriter Willis Goldbeck, and the result was Freaks – a disturbing tale of vengeful circus sideshow performers starring actors with real-life deformities.

Disastrous preview screening immediately attracted controversy, including one review which concluded "There is no excuse for this picture. It took a weak mind to produce it and it takes a strong stomach to look at it."

Even in a heavily cut form, the film proved too much for audiences and was removed from theatres across the U.S – marking the first time an MGM picture had been pulled before the end of its run.

"Due to its negative portrayal of people with physical handicaps, the film received so much bad press and created such ill will that MGM was forced to withdraw the release from circulation and suffered a loss of approximately $164,000 in Depression-era money," said Grey Smith, Director of Vintage Posters at Heritage.

Years later in the 1960s, the edited version of Freaks was revived as a late-night exploitation classic, and in 1994 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being culturally and historically significant.

The film's short initial run means original period posters are regarded as "almost impossible to find", and are amongst the most sought-after for collectors in the horror genre.

The poster offered at Heritage originates from the film's release in Belgium, where it was known as 'Barnum' after the famous real-life circus owner, and features a tagline which translates as "And all of the Monsters of the Universe."

Further rare and terrifying examples featured in the sale include a highly rare U.K three-sheet for The Ghoul, an obscure British film starring Boris Karloff, estimated at $30,000-$60,000; and an even rarer one-sheet for the 1939 adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, valued at $15,000-$30,0000.

The Heritage Auctions' autumn Vintage Poster Auction takes place in Dallas on November 19-20.

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