Apr 1, 2019

She Freak (1967)

A David F. Friedman production, and remake of Tod Browning's Freaks. "Behind the Tents and Tinsel of a Monster Midway Something Barbaric Occurs on the ALLEY OF NIGHTMARES".

The film begins with some amazing shots of the Kern County Fair (Bakersfield, CA) circa 1967.  A lot of IMDb reviews complain about these shots as overlong and boring.  I could watch this shit all day and beg for more.

What an awesome time capsule.  Add this film to the list of great carnival settings in film; we've covered Death MaskThe Incredibly Strange Creatures cult classic would also rank up there.  

The film zooms in to the freak show tent, where a woman is horrified by the hideous creature before her.  What could that creature be?  We'll find out at the end of the movie.

Let's go back in time and meet Jade, played by Claire Brennen.  Brennen found substantial success in seventies TV before her untimely death in 1977.  In this film, she plays a cocky waitress with a bad southern accent.

She gets hit on by her gross boss, Greasy (Claude Earl Jones). But Jade is a self assured gal, not easily intimidated.

Greasy watches her as she stands in front of the doorway, the light shining through her dress.  He tells her his wife is out of time; how about having some fun?  "What do you say you and me, we go up to Lee County tonight for a couple of beers. Eh?"

Jade: Gee, Greasy, that sounds groovy. But I'm afraid I don't have anything classy enough to wear for such a grand occasion.
Greasy: Don't you get so damn snotty. Who in the hell do you think you are, anyway?
Jade: I know who I am. I'm nobody. Just like you.

There's a real attempt at some good dialog; David Friedman isn't exactly Tennessee Williams  but points for trying.

The next day, Jade meets a guy pasting flyers around for the fair.  She talks him into getting her a job; she quits the diner and starts her new life.

 We get some interesting footage of guys setting up the carnival.

Jade tours the carnival, enamored with it, smiling ear to ear. 

She's a waitress for the shitty carnival food stand.  There she meets a carnival stripper called "Moon" (Lynn Courtney).

 Jade loves the carnival; a lot of film time is spent just watching Jade mill around the fairgrounds... which, as I've said, is just fine by me.

Jade takes a ride on the Ferris Wheel, operated by the studly Blackie Fleming (Lee Raymond).  Raymond was actually a captain for United Airlines.

As she gets off the ride and Blackie gets a load of those gams, you can tell something is going to happen between them.  Stay tuned.

 Jade ventures into the freak show tent.

For some reason, Jade is absolutely disgusted and appalled by the freaks.  She has to leave the tent, breathless.

 In a nearby tent, Moon delivers her "striptease" (only stripping down to a bikini).

Moon invites Jade to stay with her.  Jade is just in love with the carnival life, viewing it all with rose colored glasses.

The conversation ventures into the bathroom, where we get to see Moon in the tub.  Of course there's no nudity, but it gets tantalizingly close.  Actress Lynn Courtney's only other credit was a 1955 film called I Am a Camera where she played a young girl (uncredited)

 The next day, Jade flirts with the owner of the carnival, Steve St. John (Bill McKinney).

Steve falls in love with the lowly waitress, and the two are soon married.

At Moon's place, Jade has her palm read by the carnival fortune teller.  As you might guess, her palm line spell bad tidings.

 Jade is reading in bed when she gets a call.  She changes into a red robe and awaits her visitor...

It's Blackie the Ferris Wheel operator.  This isn't the first time these have had sex either.  But this conjugal visit is interrupted when Steve arrives at the hotel.

Blackie stabs poor Steve to death. 

But it all works out for Jade.  She inherits the whole carnival.  Her first action as the new owner is to fire one of the freaks.  She fucking hates freaks.

Moon is horrified.  The freak (a midget named "Shorty") had been working at the carnival a long time, and didn't deserve to be fired.

Jade: "Look cooch, I don't need you or anyone else to tell me how to run my new business! Now, why don't you screw on back to the girlie show and shake it for the paying customers?"

But her wicked ways come back to bite her when the freaks surround her that night, looking mighty scary.

Jade is backed up into a corner, with freaks closing in on her, then it cuts to present day....

Remember the beginning of the film where a woman was horrified by a disgusting freak?  Yep.  That's Jade.  At first we see her profile, but as she slowly turns to face us...

 We see she's become a hideous she-freak! THE END

Sure this was really cheesy, and its padded to death with shots of a Bakersfield fair, but it has that fun, campy, midnight movie vibe. Admittedly, I've never seen Browning's Freaks, so can't make a comparison.  Obviously it's considered miles and miles better than this, so a comparison isn't probably worth much anyway.  Regardless, it's just weird enough to warrant a look.

1 comment:

  1. 'Freaks' is one of my favorite films. I actually cried at the coda to the ending. You should watch it.