Wednesday, March 16, 2011

R.I.P.: David F. Friedman

Much to my disbelief, I just found out today of an event that totally passed me by: the death of the great David F. Friedman on February 14, 2011. If ever there was a man who should be honored on a blog like this, he, "The Mighty Monarch of Exploitation" is – was – the one, and he went to Never-Never Land without me even hearing about it. Wow. Was I working that day or something?
Now, a month in retrospect, a review of an amazing career.

David F. Friedman
December 24, 1923 – February 14, 2011

An exploitation filmmaker and dinosaur, Friedman even worked with the legendary Kroger Babb early in his career, a career in exploitation that went on to become legendary in its own right. As he once said about himself, "I am probably guilty of promulgating more of the most disgusting garbage on the American public than anyone has ever done."

Friedman's fecund fingers were in the pie of many a classic and non-classic film, both crappy bad and excellent bad, including a few truly influential ones such Blood Feast (1963), which he made with the equal legendary H. G. Lewis, who once said the following about the first true gore film ever made: "Blood Feast is like a Walt Whitman poem. It's no good but it's the first of its kind, therefore it deserves recognition."
The son of an editor of the Birmingham News, Friedman first moved to the nearby city of Anniston, Alabama, (the birthplace of the actor Michael Biehn) with his mother when his parents divorced and then onwards to upstate New York. He studied for a time at Cornell University before getting drafted; he ended up being stationed at Fort McClellan in Anniston – the town in which he was eventually to retire and, finally, die (surviving his wife Carol by almost ten years).

After the end of WWII, Friedman met Kroger Babb while selling some surplus army supplies and, impressed by the commercial potential of exploitation film as evidenced by the huge success of Babb's legendary film Mom and Dad (1945) – which, by the way, was directed by the great William "One-Shot" Beaudine and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2005 – Friedman eventually joined forces with Babb in 1956 at Modern Film Distributors in Chicago to release Ingmar Bergman's 1953 film Monika (edited down to emphasize the nudity).

A few years later, Babb was out of the picture and Friedman was instead busy producing “nudie cutie" films and "roughies" with the Chicago teacher H. G. Lewis. In search of a new angle to exploit, they ushered in one of the most reliable and profitable genres of exploitation film, the splatter film, with the trash gore classics Blood Feast and 2000 Maniacs (1964). Their third joint gore film, Color Me Blood Red (1965), was their last.

Following their less-than-amiable split, David F. Friedman went to Hollywood and continued his long and profitable career in exploitation, eventually becoming one of the first to delve into Nazi exploitation with the truly trashy Love Camp 7 (1969) and Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS (1974) before finally bowing out of filmmaking after dabbling in hardcore pornography because, as he put it, he liked to "sell the sizzle, not the steak." (Despite his supposed less than enthusiastic involvement in porn, he did manage to produce The Budding of Brie [1980], a riff of All About Eve [1950 / trailer] and one of the acknowledged "classy" porn films of the brief period in which the genre tried for a professional, "real movie" sheen.) In 1990, pretty much in retirement, he published his autobiography A Youth in Babylon: Confessions of a Trash-Film King.

Friedman appeared as an important (if not featured) talking head in documentaries such as Sex and Buttered Popcorn (1989), David Friedman: Portrait of an Exploiter (1997) and Mau Mau Sex Sex (2001), and, towards the mid-1990s and the first decade of this century, even returned to the producer’s seat, usually for sequels or remakes of some of the classic gore films he made with Lewis.

He died of heart failure at the age of 89 in Anniston, Alabama.

We can only say: Thank you for all that you did and that you gave us.

And, now a selection of posters and trailers and full films spanning the career of David Friedman. While most of the posters probably fall into the category of "retro cute," be forewarned that many of the previews are definitely not work safe: there might not be any stiff poles waving in the wind, but there is the occasional teabag as well as a lot of early bush and love pillows galore.

Cannibal Island (1956)
A re-edited and retitled version of the 1931 documentary Gow the Killer. Read Something Weird's review here.

The Prime Time (1959)
Hell Kitten

Karen Black’s debut film as "the Painted Lady," and the first combined film project of H.G. Lewis and David Freeman.

Living Venus (1961)
The debut film of Harvey Korman. The following is a clip from the film, featuring Bob Scobey and Frisco Jazz Band.

The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (1961)
I actually saw this one once. Cute and so innocent by today's standards, but despite having more full frontals, it is definitely not as pneumatically impressive as the film that so obviously inspired it, Russ Meyer's highly curvaceous and oddly entertaining The Immoral Mr Teas (1959 / 30 minutes in Russian).
For a review and trailer of
The Adventures of Lucky Pierre, go here at Something Weird.

Nature's Playmates (1962)

Boin-n-g (1963)
For a review and preview of the film, go here at Something Weird.

Blood Feast (1963)

Goldilocks and the Three Bares (1963)
Wikipedia: "Appropriately billed as the 'first nudist musical' (not to be confused with The First Nudie Musical [1976 / 'Lesbian Butch Dyke,' a music number from the latter film]), it has considerably more depth than their prior attempts at this genre."

Credit sequence:

Bell, Bare and Beautiful (1963)
Shot in four days, it is the only lead film role of the famous burlesque dancer Virginia Bell. For a review and preview of the film, go here at Something Weird.The following clip does not come from the film – but it gives you an idea of what made Ms Bell, who is currently retired, so popular in her field in her day.

Scum of the Earth (1963)
One of the first roughies made, beating Russ Meyer's Lorna (1964 / classic opening scene) by a year.


Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)
Full film

The Defilers (1965)

Color Me Blood Red (1965)

Pussy Galore (1965)
Nudists Galore

To see the rather funny trailer to this truly cute nudie cutie, go here at Something Weird.

The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill (1966)

A Smell of Honey, a Swallow of Brine (1966)

She Freak (1967)
Full film

The Brick Dollhouse (1967)
For a review and preview of the film, go here at Something Weird.

The Lustful Turk (1968)
Based on the pre-Victorian British erotic novel The Lustful Turk, or Lascivious Scenes from a Harem, first published anonymously in 1828 by John Benjamin Brookes. Still available today, for example as The Lustful Turk (illustrated) from Wordsworth Classic Erotica (1997).
Here is a review and trailer of the film at Something Weird.

The Acid Eaters (1968)Trailer

The Acid Eaters (1968) von bmoviebabe

The Head Mistress (1968)

For a review and preview of the film, go here at Something Weird.

Brand of Shame (1968)
Nude Django


Brand of Shame von rstvideo

Space-Thing (1968)Trailer

Space Thing 1968 trailer Byron Mabe von soulpatrol

A Sweet Sickness (1968)Trailer

Thar She Blows! (1968)
For a review and preview of the film, go here at Something Weird.

The Ramrodder (1969)Trailer

The Erotic Adventures of Robin Hood (1969)
The Ribald Tales of Robin Hood – His Lusty Men and Bawdy Wenches
A spanking scene from the film – "Damn it, Robin, can't you do anything better with your hands?"

The Japanese Poster

Starlet! (1969)

For a review and preview of the film, go here at Something Weird.

Love Camp 7 (1969)

For a review and preview of the film, go here at Something Weird.

The Joys of Jezebel (1970)

Trader Hornee (1970)
The "full" R-rated version of an X-rated film.

The Big Snatch (1971)
The opening scene of The Big Snatch – recognize the young Uschi Digard?

Watch live video from Grindhouse TV on

The Long Swift Sword of Siegfried (1971)

The Long Swift Sword of Siegfried von rstvideo

The Adult Version of Jekyll & Hide (1972)A changeover scene from The Adult Version of Jekyll & Hide.

The Adult Version of Jekyll & Hide von luchagringo

The Erotic Adventures of Zorro (1972)
For a review and preview of the film, go here at Something Weird.

Bummer (1973)

Bummer - movie trailer 1973 von soulpatrol

Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975)
Fan-made trailer

Johnny Firecloud (1975)
Full film

The Budding of Brie (1980)
The credits sequence of the classic triple X film.

Matinee Idol (1986)

Blonde Heat (1989)

2001 Maniacs (2005)

Crustacean (2009)

2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams (2010)

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