Directed by: Byron Mabe
Written by: David F. Friedman
Starring: Claire Brennen, Lee Raymond, Lynn Courtney and Bill McKinney
Reviewed by: Josh G.
Oh, the 60s. When colored films finally became the norm, and horror was on its bloody pathway. Of course, the 70s went above and far beyond what much of the decade before it had introduced. But who could forget the carefree days when peace, harmony, and excellent poster art that tried to fit the entire film onto one sheet dominated life? Yes, going to the movies was an experience. Iím sure going to see She Freak scared some kids of the time to death. However, today, it doesnít hold up as well. Seemingly an updated version of 1932's Freaks, this is the story of a tired waitress who wants to pursue excitement in her job - something a greasy burger joint canít give her. When the travelling circus comes to town, she will have to make a choice, and it will change her life forever.
After leaving her job at the diner, Jade Cochran (Claire Brennen) moves into a carnival, where the people are friendlier, the pay is better, and the freaks are freakier! Poor Jade doesnít like the sideshow monsters, but she works around them. Her new friend Moon, also known as Pat Mullins (Lynn Courtney) is a sexy stripper whom Jade connects with. And donít forget Blackie Fleming (Lee Raymond), the Ferris wheel runner who has a hold of Jadeís lustful interest. It looks as if Jade is going to fit in well here. But marrying Steve St. John (Bill McKinney), the sideshow owner, has its repercussions when an affair with Blackie arises. Will the freaks let the Mrs. get away with her immoral act, or seek revenge?
The carnival is colorful and uplifting, with groovy music all around. Come one, come all! She Freak doesnít have a good reputation. From all that I heard from, it was a bad movie. Watching it, I see that the concept could have been so much more. I can easily sit through slow films. Many slowly moving features in the past have actually turned out fine, and in some cases, terrific. Here, itís not so much the case that She Freak is tardy, but just boring. Many music montages where Jade is frolicking around the carnival with St. John will have you drifting in and out of the filmís focus, presumably ending in a nice nap, regardless of the dayís hour. The only thing that helps move the film along is the glorious fashions and setting in a lively fair.
When the movie actually does something, itís badly directed. A fight scene between Blackie and another carny starts off when pathetic dialogue is spread, and ends when a screwdriver is stabbed into the hand of Blackieís opponent. Itís so anticlimactic, despite the image of a hand dripping in blood and hooked on a screwdriver. The tone for She Freak is likeably bizarre. Itís innocent as a whole, but dark in areas. She Freak is an exploitation movie with horror bits, rather than a straight up monster show. I will admit, Jadeís accent is admirable, and the terribly edited picture, such as when two consecutive shots are simply the same angles being shown, is entertaining. Still, when the speaking scenes of Pat Mullins are the most interesting parts, something has gone wrong.
The finaleís make-up effects are fantastic; itís the only reason why She Freakís title is the way it is. During the middle of the film, Jade gets her palm read by Madame Olga (Marsha Drake), a fortune teller. When she is told that her life line ends and starts up again, Cochran replies by agreeing, saying sheís done with her old life, and ready to start a better one. Hooray! Silly dialogue like this makes a worthless picture much more interesting. After all, She Freak isnít really anything, and most of the horror happens within the last ten minutes. To ruin that for you would be a sin, no matter how drab the feature is. Dirty specs on the camera lens do not aid the film either. Something Weird Video released a full screen DVD of She Freak with clear picture (aside from a few lighting and color changes) and sound, not to mention fantastic extras such as its trailer, audio commentary, a gallery of exploitation posters, and some 1930s footage of a real sideshow carnival. Cool!!! But donít forget, the movie is a bore, and no amount of wonderful features can possibly make up for that. Trash it!
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