When I opened the package from Synapse Films and saw the words “Let Me Die a Woman”, I shrieked with a delight usually reserved for young girls discovering Christmas ponies in their garage. You see, this Doris Wishman exploitation “classic” has been amongst my all-time, must-see flicks, and now, thanks to the madman that is Synapse honcho, Don May, here I was, holding the film in my very own hands.
The cover says it all, really, with a picture of a sensual woman bursting forth from the groin of a muscular man, and surrounded by all of the trademark hyperbole reserved for such fare. This pseudo-documentary about sex changes features some truly stomach churning scenes of actual operations, as well as some extremely uncomfortable bits where Wishman’s narrator, an unsightly little man named Dr.Leo Wollman, churlishly examines real-life transsexuals, poking at their manufactured naughty bits with various sticks, rulers, and whatever else is laying about in his exam room. All the while, Wishman shoots the film with a bizarre mélange of clinical detachment and soap opera aesthetics, including many “re-enactments” featuring transsexuals having simulated sex with extremely hairy men.
Let Me Die a Woman doesn’t only showcase men who want to become woman, but also features a few cases of woman who want to become men, wearing such high-tech devices as really tight bras and socks in their trousers. These cases aren’t given nearly as much attention as the men, however, and seem to be here as something to build up the suspense for this film’s money shot; the actual footage of a sex-change operation! For anyone whose spent any time watching the Discovery Channel, the footage here is actually quite tame (I mean, once you get past the idea that a man’s twig and berries are being flayed, trimmed, and stuffed back into his body in an attempt at making some sort of rudimentary vaginal opening), but is fascinating nonetheless. I was actually more disgusted by Dr. Wollman’s results, as these poor guy/girls now had some sort of hideous looking cleft lip between their legs resembling not so much a woman’s genitalia as a trucker’s armpit.
You’ve got to hand it to Synapse; these folks dig up some of the most obscure and entertaining flicks you’re apt to see and this film is no exception. Featuring a nearly flawless transfer, as well as a pair of commentary tracks, this title also lives up to Synapse’s gold standard of quality.
Filled with hilariously staged interview segments, loads of faux-compassion, and frequent nudity that is, at times, more disturbing than the sex-change footage, Let Me Die a Woman is a bona fide hoot, and an essential addition to any exploitation fan’s library.