“Behind the Tents and Tinsel of a Monster Midway Something Barbaric Occurs on the Alley of Nightmares.” I hate to recommend this extremely low-budget exploitation flick from legendary producer David F. Friedman too highly because you’re bound to be disappointed (in other words, watch at your own risk!). However, I find She Freak strangely appealing, perhaps because it was “inspired” by one of my all-time favorite films, Freaks (1932). That said, the film features mediocre acting and sets that look like they were pilfered from a cheap porno flick. In addition, literally half of the movie is padded with footage of carnies setting up and dismantling the midway. Claire Brennen stars in the title role as frustrated waitress “Jade Cochran” slaving away at a roadside diner (her boss, portrayed by Claude Smith, is known as “Greasy”—not kidding!) in the middle of nowhere who dreams of a better life … in a traveling carnival! After she gets a job as a food truck waitress, Jade sets her sights on sideshow manager “Steve St. John” (a rather wooden Bill McKinney who later appeared as one of the psychotic hillbillies in Deliverance). However, Jade soon discovers that she is totally appalled by the freaks in the sideshow, especially the nosy “Shorty” (Felix Silla, best known as “Cousin Itt” on The Addams Family). Even after marrying St. John, Jade continues her affair with sleazy Ferris wheel operator “Blackie Fleming” (Lee Raymond). After Blackie murders St. John, the freaks exact their revenge on Jade in a blatant rip-off of the Tod Browning classic. For the record, She Freak was directed by Byron Mabe and Friedman (who also wrote the screenplay) appears uncredited as the carnival barker: “Ladies and gentlemen, you’re about to behold a sight so strange, so horrifying, so utterly monstrous, that I urge you who are easily frightened or upset, who suffer from nervous disorders, weak hearts or queasy stomachs, who experience nightmares and any children under the age of 16, to forgo witnessing this exhibit." Also look for the enticing Lynn Courtney in her only known film role as stripper “Pat ‘Moon’ Mullins.” Great movie poster, by the way—one of the best ever!
Useless Trivia: Friedman also produced Blood Feast (1963) and Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975), among other exploitation classics, and once remarked, “I made some terrible pictures, but I don’t make any apologies for anything I’ve ever done. Nobody ever asked for their money back.”