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Askew Review 15

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LET ME DIE A WOMAN (Synapse Films) 1978. Gender Bender Docudrama. 78 Minutes. Not Rated. The nasty and crusty side of the sex change trade in the unflinching style of Doris Wishman. Let Me Die a Woman offers an unflinching look at people who have sex changes. It’s explained how it is done and we are shown everything in that gritty style that Wishman is famous for. Did you know that they bisect the penis and use it for the new vagina? Did you know there’s this torpedo device they have to insert into the new vagina so it doesn’t heal up and seal itself closed? Did you know that most post op transsexuals are some of the dog ugliest people on the planet? Watch this and all your questions will be answered. Hell, they’ll answer questions you would never imagine. It makes you wish she never made the damned thing and once you start to watch it you’ll be unable to tear away from it. It’s like the worst car accident you’ve ever seen. My favorite scene is during an encounter group there is this petite young lady (or so I thought) with platinum hair and while she was no looker she was a vast improvement over the sea of nasty that populates this film. Then she opened her mouth and this whiskey and cigarette voice comes out that would put Kathleen Turner to shame. That was it for me; I hit the floor rolling and had to rewind to see what I missed. 
  I had heard of this film for some time, but never had the chance to actually watch the thing. Then Synapse Films decided to give us what is probably going to be the best presentation on the planet. Culled from an original negative, the widescreen, uncut anamorphic print looks beautiful. It makes you wish the subject matter could say the same. If you think you’re familiar with the whole sex change scene you’ll discover that you know nothing when viewing this film. I call it a docudrama because some of it is faked to represent actual cases. The guy taking his dick off with the chisel is a prime example and a scene that had been missing from most prints for quite some time. Synapse put it back it and it will make you jump regardless of how jaded you are. As for extras, there is an alternate opening credits sequence that you can take or leave along with some wild promo spots and trailers. The one gem in this sea of depravity would have to be the commentary hosted by Wishman archivist Michael Bowen and one of the stars of the film, Leslie. The commentary alone brings a great insight into the mind of Doris Wishman and adds historical perspective to the proceedings. One warning, if you’re a big Wishman fan, this one is very different from her usual fare. We get sync sound and the use of wild shots is kept to a minimum. Doris wanted to tell this story so she kept her usual brand of insanity away from the flick. Well, except for the subject matter. Good old Doris! Got a strong stomach? You better have because there are scenes here that I still have issues with and I’ve watched it twice! You have been warned! -Douglas A. Waltz



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