Although they had worked together twice before, this is the first in the remarkable series of Browning/Chaney collaborations which served as a source for all t hat is best in the horror movie. Based like Freaks on a story by Tod Robbins, it is curiously muted compared to the macabre fancies dreamed up later in the series. But there is many a pleasing frisson to be had from the weird family circle formed by three carnival refugees - ventriloquist in drag as granny (Chaney), malevolent midget as baby (Earles), strong man in moronic attendance (McLaglen) - to further their criminal activities with the reluctant aid of Mae Busch's heroine, using a thriving pet shop as their HQ. Slightly tongue-in-cheek (baby sporting a huge cigar as he checks his and bootees; a murderous ape thrown in for the finale), it also displays considerable subtlety in depicting the perverse passions that tear the trio apart.
Cast and crew