Monday, June 27, 2022

#2,775. Sideshow (2000) - Full Moon Features


As Tod Browning proved to us in his 1932 classic Freaks, carnival sideshow attractions (at least in the movies) live by their own code, and heaven help anyone who dares to cross them!

Clearly, the young characters in Fred Olen Ray’s 2000 film Sideshow never saw Freaks, and some would pay the ultimate price for their ignorance.

Bobby (Jamie Martz) and Tommy (Michael Amos) take their dates for the night, Melanie (Jessi Keenan) and Jeanie (Jeana Blackman), to a traveling carnival. Unfortunately, Bobby also brought along his handicapped brother Grant (Scott McCann), which puts a bit of a damper on the evening. To make matters worse, Tommy at one point insults Abbot Graves (Phil Fondacaro), the diminutive sideshow barker, picking him up and treating him as if he were a child.

After visiting a fortune teller (Brinke Stevens), the five are given free passes to the “Freak” show, and though Bobby is a little reluctant, the remaining friends make their way to the sideshow tent. Alas, not all of them will walk away from it.

Produced by Full Moon, Sideshow was done on the cheap, and features mediocre performances (though Fondacaro does an admirable job as Abbot Graves) and low-grade effects. Yet while the make-up and special effects aren’t all that convincing, I got a kick out of the various sideshow attractions, some of which are damned creative.

There’s Hans the Bug Boy (Fred Pierce), and “Conjoin-O” (Peter Spellos), who has a face growing out of his stomach (the face is played by Luigi Francis Shorty Rossi). It’s the female attractions, however, that steal the show. First up is Digestina (Shyra Deland), who sits in a tub of stomach acid and consumes whatever drops into it. And then there’s the sexy Aelita (Curran Sympson), the “Inside-Out Girl” whose dance is fairly sexy… that is, until she finally displays her particular “talent”! Also handled in a very imaginative way is the “retribution” brought down on the young friends, featured in the film’s final 10 minutes.

So, while Sideshow may occasionally let its budget limitations bleed through the cracks, they won’t detract one bit from your enjoyment of the movie.
Rating: 7 out of 10

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