A 1930s circus has amongst its attractions a selection of people known as “Freaks” who are looked down upon by some of the other acts. Amongst these people is Hans (Harry Earles), an adult man trapped in the body of a boy. Despite being engaged to fellow “Freak” Frieda (Harry’s real-life sister, Daisy Earles), Hans is in love with Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova), a beautiful trapeze artist. To begin with Cleopatra leads Hans on, mocking him behind his back but accepting his gifts and favours, all the while carrying on with the strong man, Hercules (Henry Victor), but when they discover Hans is the heir to a fortune, Cleopatra plans to marry then immediately kill him, leaving her his wealthy widow. Meanwhile, Hercules’ former lover Venus (Leila Hyams), who is amongst the few circus-folk who are actually kind and accepting of the “Freaks”, begins a relationship with Phroso the Clown (Wallace Ford).
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