Monday, September 03, 2007

She Freak (1967)

It must have seemed like a great idea at the time: Remake Tod Browning's legendary Freaks, except without any actual freaks and nearly all plot time devoted to following the fortunes of the Cleopatra character, here transformed into a greasy-spoon waitress named Jade Cochran and played by the frightfully untalented Claire Brennan. About the only note of interest is the unusual parallelism that occurs when old-hand cinema huckster David Friedman brings his act to the carnival -- the promise of lurid thrills that accompanies any good freakshow tent is the same promise Friedman used to get butts into moie-theater seats, and both attractions had a similarly low level of payoff. Friedman setting his film among the carny set, then, is akin to a con artist coming out and telling you that he's going to be running off with your cash. Otherwise, She Freak is a bad film in that it's never bad enough to be amusing or memorably painful, yet it's never inspired enough to work within the limitations of its badness. It is dully mediocre, which is maybe the worst thing an exploitation feature can be. The overall impression one gets is that of a modest, image-based documentary on the life of traveling carnival workers that keeps getting interrupted (and ultimately supplanted) by a bad attempt at a love-triangle noir.

Grade: C


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