We are now half-way through the month of October, such as it is, and thus at the midpoint of this marathon. I’ve covered some good movies, I’ve covered some bad movies, I’ve covered some really bad movies. But what we’ve seen so far has been a bit hokey, a bit goofy, these are all horror movies but they’re more horror comedies or grotesque oddities. Where’s a good and proper horror movie? Where’s a movie that takes itself seriously, well-made, has a good premise, and follows through? Does such a movie exist in the Full Moon catalog?
Given the quality of the early ’00s stuff from Full Moon so far, I didn’t have a lot of hopes for Sideshow. I mean, look at that poster, that’s awful and lazy. This is just going to be another bargain basement bore like Dr. Moreau’s House of Pain or The Dead Hate the Living, right? Wrong. To my delighted surprise, Sideshow is legit. Sideshow is an actual full and proper good movie.
Now, let me add that the caveat that this fits in Full Moon’s wheelhouse where subject matter is concerned. There’s been a great many movies about circus freaks throughout the years but none have conceived of ones quite like these. There’s the insect man, the inside-out woman, the naked woman sitting in a vat of digestive fluids, the big hillbilly with a cuato, they’re all your general hacky gory direct-to-video genre fare.
The difference between your average Full Moon movie and Sideshow is that it never nods or winks, it never condescends, there’s no knowing grin or self-aware smirk. Even when the movie comes to its conclusion and we have Phil Fondacaro overacting into a close-up shot with a wide angle lens, it’s not campy.
What Sideshow is, more than anything, is a more exploitation-friendly take on Something Wicked This Way Comes. It’s got that Bradbury sentimental bitterness splashed with some Rod Serling and some Todd Browning (one of the freaks is almost completely stolen from his movie.) We have a freak show run by Dr. Graves (genre vet and third-most-famous dwarf Phil Fandacaro.) Dr. Graves has a machine that gives people what they want, but the catch is that it brings out who they are inside. It’s basically dickhead genie logic where what you want is turned against you.
A group of teenagers: non-entity Bobby, his ALS afflicted younger brother Grant, his swinging dick friend Tommy, the distant hottie Melanie, and the insecure ugly duckling Jeanie. Each of them goes through the freakshow and finds what they deserve and naturally it’s nothing good. As I said, the movie is Full Moon and has Full Moon production values but the script is strong, the story is strong, even the performances are strong. Even Brinke Stevens has a good performance in this! Brinke Stevens!
I had hoped to find some gems amongst the lesser-known stuff in the Full Moon library, but this is more than a gem. Run out and find yourselves a copy of Sideshow folks, this one is worth it!
Watch, Toss, Or Buy? Buy it!
If You Liked This, Watch: Freaks (1932), Freaked (1993), From a Whisper to a Scream (1987), Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009), House of Wax (2005), Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)