A "Freaks" remake without freaks?
E. Wachholz | 08/10/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"David F. Friedman, former collaborateur of H.G. Lewis, produced this low budget horror film as an hommage to the travelling carnivals of the US. He took the storyline of "Freaks", the Tod Browning classic, and transformed it into a rather tame film with lots of carnival atmosphere, a little bit of horror and a little bit of skin. So don't expect too much. At that time (1966) real freaks were not available so Friedman used actors in makeup - a major disappointment! This film is a nice little oddity. But definitly not for the gore-hounds..."
Exploitation - Sideshow fans rejoice!
cookieman108 | 06/20/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""She-Freak" is an ultra-low budget remake of Tod Brownings classic "Freaks," only contemporized and in color. This is truly a bad film, and fans of bad b-movies will get a kick out of it. The transfer of the DVD looks great, and the newsreel footage of real freaks is an added bonus. There's also commentary by Exploitation King David Friedman. Would have earned 5 stars if they had included a few trailers to some other films in the "Something Weird" catalog."
Tod Browning, Where Are You?
Jery Tillotson | New York, NY United States | 01/18/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Exploitation meister David Friedman was an expert at churning out low-budget skin-flicks and drive-in masterpieces. "She Freak" has been restored in clear detail and colors and you can see for yourself that Friedman blatantly ripped off Tod Browning's 1931 masterpiece, "Freaks." The movie starts out with promise, giving us glimpses of a real-life carnival, circa l967. But after awhile, it becomes boring. There's no skin shown, no soft-core sex, no violence and no suspense. There's even a scene taken literally from the ending of "Freaks" in which the devious heroine is transformed into a monster--bad make-up and all."
"There are two kinds of freaks, ladies and gentleman...those
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 12/08/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After watching Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1974) the night before, I actually enjoyed myself somewhat last night with this film, titled She Freak (1967)...I'm not saying She Freak was a great movie (it wasn't), but it was a short sight better than that other flick, which really wouldn't have been a difficult task to accomplish, so in essence, I'm really not saying a lot (what else is new?). Written and produced by David F. Friedman (The Defilers, The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill, The Acid Eaters), a name instantaneously familiar to fans of sleaze cinema, and directed by actor/director/producer Byron Mabe (A Smell of Honey, a Swallow of Brine, The Head Lady, Space-Thing), the film features Claire Brennen (The Touchables, The Domino Principle) as Jade Cochran, a country girl of humble origin who, desperate to better her lot in life, flew too close to the sun on gossamer wings made of feathered dreams and wax ambitions...also appearing is Lee Raymond, who would later direct a couple of pictures for Friedman including Love Thy Neighbor and His Wife (1970) and The Adult Version of Jekyll & Hide (1972), Lynn Courtney, and Bill `Squeal like a pig for me' McKinney, making his silver screen debut here. Most probably remember Mr. McKinney as the wild eyed, funky toothed mountain man who loved Ned Beatty just a little too much in the film Deliverance (1972).
The film starts off with shots of a carnival, accompanied by some fairly groovy, non-descript instrumental music. Ahhhh, nothing like watching carny folk ply their respective trades, all of them seeming to involve the ripping off the rubes...this goes on for a good five and a half minutes before we cut to a rural, greasy spoon, i.e. a diner, and we meet Jade Cochran, who works as a waitress, and her slightly sleazy boss, who'd I swear is played by actor Claude Earl Jones, but he's not listed in the credits. Anyway, Jade's obviously displeased with her lot in life, believing anything would be better than `wasting time in a filth pit', including signing on in some fashion with the recently arrived traveling carnival. This decision elicits a story about a pig (I wasn't sure if he was talking about an ex-employee or a real life farm animal), along with the following temperamental tirade from her employer...
`You gonna run off and join that lousy carnival, hunh? Too good to work for me, hunh? What the hell you gonna do in the carnival, Jade? You gonna dance the hootchie cooch? Show the farm boys what you got? You know where your going girl? Your going down, all the way down!'
Jade splits and joins up with the carnival, as...a waitress, serving and cleaning up after the carnies (she even gets to wear the same uniform she did while working at the diner). She makes friends with a stripper named Pat `Moon' Mullins (Courtney), cozies up to Ferris wheel man Blackie Fleming (Raymond), eventually setting her gold digging sights on the well to do freak show operator Steve St, John (McKinney), despite her disdain for freaks in general. The two marry, while Jade maintains a relationship with Blackie which eventually spawns a violent confrontation that ends in Jade, who's turned into a real a-hole, inheriting the freak show. Jade's recent good fortune is short lived as the freaks seek gruesome justice for their former boss, benefactor, and friend.
I was somewhat disappointed in this film mainly because it featured so little sleaze (no nekkidness), something producer Friedman known for in his other films. There also seemed a real absence of actual freaks throughout the film...there was a sword swallower, a snake handler, and even a sneaky midget (or little person, if you prefer), but this hardly met my expectations given a good hunk of the film dealt with the freak show aspect. The advertising on the DVD case relates this was sort of a homage to Tod Browning's controversial 1932 film Freaks, but I'd hardly call this a homage...a more apt description would be rip off, as the plot structure is almost identical, lacking any of the worthwhile character structure, poignant touches, or memorable visual imagery featured in that earlier film. The story here is so minimal, bolstered up by endless filler sequences of carnival in operation, packing up to move, or setting up once it reached a new location. These were sometimes interesting to look at, but after a while they only served to illuminate how little actual story there was...at the very least, during these extended filler sequences, one can switch to Friedman's commentary track, which is fairly interesting and fun. The acting was so-so, the worst being, in my opinion, Claire Brennen with her phony, southern drawl. She was somewhat attractive (nice rack), but her face had a sort of mannish quality that made me wonder at times if she was a transvestite. Throughout the movie there were a number of characters that used the term `with it' in some context or other...apparently carnie folk are a lot more hip than I would have thought. I wasn't quite sure what they actually meant when they used this term, but it did remind me of a line from The Simpson's animated show where Grandpa Simpson describes to Homer how he lost his `hipness'... `I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I'm with isn't it, and what's it seems weird and scary to me, and it'll happen to you, too.'
The picture quality, presented in fullscreen, on this Something Weird Video DVD looks very clean and sharp, and the Dolby Digital mono audio comes through very well. As far as extras go, there's a theatrical trailer, an entertaining commentary track featuring writer and producer David F. Friedman, a film short featuring some freaks (8:29), mainly a couple female Siamese twins, and a lengthy gallery of David F. Friedman exploitation art, materials used to promote his various cinematic ventures. All in all this is a great presentation of a flimsy exploitation film, with lots of excellent, colorful, kitschy shots of a carnival circa the late 1960s, if that sort of thing interests you. There are a few different DVD releases of this film floating around, so if your interested in purchasing this film, it would be wise to make sure you're getting the version you want.
By the way, I saw Friedman is currently producing a remake of this film, one supposedly slated for a 2005 release, but the production appears to have stalled...