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She-Freak (1967)

NOTE: This commentary only available on the Something Weird special edition of SHE-FREAK, which is also available as part of SW's FREAK SHOW box set.

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Producer David F. Friedman and Something Weird owner Mike Vraney Rating:10.0/10 (1 vote) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Brian Thibodeau on May 20th, 2004:Find all reviews by Brian Thibodeau
Listening to legendary exploiteer Friedman, a commentary participant on many of his films on the Something Weird label, is rather like listening to grampa spin tales of the old days - except that the old days in this case consist of life in the carny and exploitation film business. I've yet to listen to a Friedman track that i didn't enjoy, often times more than the film it accompanies. How he would fare on his own on a track remains to be seen (and probably never will be), but with a knowledgeable enabler in Mike Vraney at his side, the conversation here is never dull for fans of this kind of cinema (among whose ranks I count myself).

Here, Friedman's as animated as ever, sharing tales about the production of She-Freak, a pseudo-remake of Tod Browning's FREAKS (1932) which was shot, as will be obvious to the viewer, in a real carnival for the not-insubstantial sum of $65,000. Interestingly enough, knowing Friedman's work with Herschel Godron Lewis on the legendary BLOOD FREAK and its kin, American International pictures asked for this film to be considerably less gory, then upon viewing the final film, wondered why it wasn't gorier!

Friedman also riffs on the cut-short career of lead star Claire Brennan, who died about a year after making this film (her clothing store, Sassy Pants, provided the costumes), as well as work of director Byron Mabe, whose ego expanded once he'd starred in THE DOBERMAN GANG and who eventually walked off Friedman's SPACE THING (also a Something Weird DVD), feeling he'd outgrown the exploitation genre (he made his exploitation debut in THE DEFILERS, another classic on the SW label). Best of all, and only tangentially related to the film, Friedman recounts the tale of hapless Oklahoma bank robber Elmer McCurdy, whose corpse, after being displayed in a funeral home in 1911 (in a not-uncommon practise), found its way onto the carnival sideshow circuit, where it toured for years as an attraction before being lost to the ages for several years, finally being uncovered by an unwitting crew member prepping an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man in 1976.

All in all, a very insightful track from a legend in the business, regardless of one's opinion of the film.