Director Tod Browning is a key figure from the early days of cinema, most noted for his contributions to the horror genre. He directed the original, silent-era horror movie icon Lon Chaney in 1927's famously lost vampire film London After Midnight, before calling the shots on the first horror talkie, 1931's Dracula, with Bela Lugosi.
However, Browning's 1932 film Freaks took horror, and film overall, to a radically different place. Drawing both from Tod Robbins' short story Spurs and the director's own background in the circus, the film cast real sideshow 'freaks' as the principal cast.
This, in itself, was unnerving enough for most audiences at the time; but Freaks goes further yet by showing this oppressed underclass taking a very sinister revenge, when the circus's beautiful trapeze artist marries a dwarf for his money, whilst plotting with the strongman to murder her new husband and elope.
Deemed too shocking even before the introduction of the Hays Code, Freaks was cut by almost 30 minutes prior to release (footage which sadly remains lost today), yet even in its shortened form it was hugely controversial. It was banned in the UK for over 30 years, although it's rated 12A today.