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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Farewell, Mighty Monarch: David F. Friedman (1923 - 2011)


The Mighty Monarch of Exploitation has made his way to that great carnival in the sky, and there will never be another like him.

"Let me tell you something.  I have written pictures, I have produced pictures, I've even acted in pictures.  I've owned and operated theaters.  I've written books.  Do you know what the greatest thrill in the world for me was?  To stand in front of a theater and watch those people come in and put their money down."  -- David F. Friedman

There are a handful of people around in the b-movie world that you feel smarter coming out of a conversation with than you were going in.  Sam Sherman.  Fred Olen Ray.  And especially Dave Friedman.  I only met Dave a couple of times over the years, and never on a truly personal level, but he was always more than willing to answer whatever questions you wanted to ask; his memory was borderline uncanny and his wonderful stories of times gone by were never less than enthralling.

As they should be.  His accomplishments in the exploitation film industry were numerous, almost too many for just one being.  The titles themselves are the stuff of legend:  Blood FeastIlsa, She-Wolf of the SSA Smell of Honey, a Swallow of BrineGoldilocks and the Three BaresThe Erotic Adventures of ZorroShe FreakThe Brick DollhouseThe Adult Version of Jekyll and HideThe Acid EatersScum of the Earth.

Thankfully, he was around long enough to preserve his legacy in a number of ways.  His autobiography, A Youth in Babylon: Confessions of a Trash-Film King, belongs on everyone's bookshelf.  Something Weird Video tapped him for audio commentaries on everything from his groundbreakingly gore-soaked Blood Trilogy to the anti-pot scare-film classic Marihuana to the birth-of-a-baby roadshow jaw-dropper Street Corner.  It's damn near impossible to find a documentary about exploitation film history that didn't have Friedman involved in some way; my highest recommendations go to Ted Bonnitt's excellent Mau Mau Sex Sex and Jimmy Maslon and Frank Henenlotter's upcoming Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore.  The latter's same team are now working on a follow-up dedicated to the man himself, currently titled David F. Friedman's That's Sexploitation

I can hardly wait.

For affectionate tributes from those who knew him well, be sure and read Mike Vraney's eulogy at Something Weird's website and H.G. Lewis' loving memories over at Fangoria.

© 2011 -- Bruce Holecheck. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Nice tribute---I met Dave a few times at the CHILLER THEATRE cons in NJ--always a very gracious man and he once spoke to me for almost 2 hours. He'll surely be missed.