It wasn’t trapeze artist Cleopatra’s nefarious scheme to manipulate, marry, then murder German midget Hans for his money that was so shocking. Nor was it the attempt by her strongman lover, Hercules, to rape Venus, the seal-trainer. What revolted audiences at Tod Browning’s Freaks upon its release in 1932 was the director’s decision to cast (and humanize) real-life sideshow performers—including conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, Johnny Eck the Half Boy, and Prince Randian, the Hindu Living Torso. The film was yanked from theaters and stayed banned in Great Britain for 30 years. Browning—who, at the age of 16, had himself run away to join a circus—treated these actors like professionals and presented characters that were more than grotesque curiosities, and it all but ended his career. Gabba gabba at midnight (see Showtimes for other dates) at Visions Bar Noir, 1927 Florida Ave. NW. $5. (202) 667-0090. (Matthew Borlik)