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August 18, 2012

Movie Review: She Freak (1967)

Directed by Byron Mabe

Starring Claire Brennen, Lee Raymond and Lynn Courtney

Claire Brennen stars as Jade Cochran, a discontented woman looking for a way out of her dead-end job as a waitress at a greasy diner. One day a carnival employee wanders into the diner and encourages Jade to take a chance and apply for a job, since the carnival happens to be passing through her town. Jade quits her job and is soon hired on, waiting on picnic tables and living the oh-so-glamorous carny lifestyle. She quickly discovers though, that she despises the freaks and human oddities that accompany the show. She has a fling with with Blackie, the ride superintendent, but wanting to get ahead socially she starts dating and eventually marries one of the carnival owners. The power and money she now possesses aren't enough to satisfy her though, and she is eventually caught cheating with the hired hand, which leads to her husband being stabbed and killed. This leaves her in charge and she soon makes her move to start getting rid of the freaks. the freaks aren't happy about this and some how end up turning her into some type of weird side-show oddity with a bulging eye and snake-like skin. (How this was accomplished is never explained.)

True to form, Cheezy Flicks shows that they are not going to shy away from bringing us the most obscure of drive-in fare from long ago. Quite a few of their releases are true underground classics, while others are of the “so-bad-they’re-awesome” variety, and then there are movies like She Freak, a movie so horrendously bad, it just left me shaking my head, thinking to myself, “ unfortunate was that?”

Believe me, I am a huge fan of bad movies, I eat them like candy bars and ask for seconds. I wanted to like this movie the second I saw the DVD box art (totally boss), but believe me when I tell you, this was an 80 minute movie that seemed to move in slow motion and never went anywhere interesting,  a story that could have been told in 12 minutes easily.

It's a retake on Browning’s classic film, Freaks (if you hadn't figured that yet), about a Jezebel who mocks the unfortunates and pays dearly at the end. Only in this one about 60% of the film is comprised of stock carnival footage, not that I have anything against that, in fact, I thought the stock footage was the best part of the movie as it actually conveyed a good sense of what carnival life was like in the mid-60‘s. The unfortunate aspects of the film are the total lack of gore (except a wino who gets a screwdriver in the hand) and almost a complete absence of actual freaks. We get a stripper, sword swallower, a couple midgets and some broad who kisses snakes. (Where were my pin-heads? And amputees?) The big revenge finale was a bit of a let-down as well. On the positive side, the acting is so bad that it left a smile on my face for the most part and the reveal at the end where Jade is displayed in the freak-pit is pretty creepy, but that only comprised 30 seconds of the movie.

It wasn't one of my faves from Cheezy Flicks, but that being said, after watching it my girlfriend's final words were, “Honey....Its cheesy!”  So there you have it, she loved it and I just shrugged my shoulders. Which just shows that no matter how bad the movie is, somebody out there is gonna get something positive out of it.

4 out of 10 on the feature & as always super-high marks for the extra’s (Those Cheezy Flicks classic trailers and drive-in public service announcements are always a blast). For the collectors out there, I say go for it. The DVD cover art and extras alone are worth the reasonable price of the disc. For the casual viewer, enter at your own risk.

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