Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Surging Through the Corridors of the Crazed Mind: Dementia (1953) Daughter of Horror (1957)

For years this obscure nightmarish gem was known to psychotronic fans as Daughter of Horror. Never “officially” released onto video, the film was nevertheless easy to track down from numerous gray market outlets, and for those lucky enough to have wallowed in its beat-inspired existentialist noir/horror rhythms, the experience was unforgettable. Directed by John J. Parker, the film is a black and white psychosexual horrorshow dealing with a young woman, known only as “the Gamin” (Adrianne Barrett), as she ventures through the dark city streets encountering various unsavory characters while she experiences a torrent of hallucinatory visions involving murder and Ed McMahon! Since Daughter of Horror was filmed with no dialogue and virtually no sound except for George Antheil’s musical score, the future-Tonight Show sidekick, who was then a radio announcer, supplied the film with an over-the-top “evil” narration. With ingredients like that you’d think the film was destined for greatness! Well, in a perfect world it would have been.

Luckily, Kino on Video (those crusaders for all that is black and white and silent) has lovingly resurrected this little masterpiece for the digital age. And not only that, they’ve also released the original cut of the film, Dementia, which contains scenes cut from the later release and doesn’t contain the campy Ed McMahon narration. The original cut takes a while to get used to, only because McMahon’s loopy psychobabble was so damn memorable, but it’s without a doubt the preferred version. The print is also amazing to behold and really shows-off William Thompson’s glorious cinematography.

Dementia/Daughter of Horror is available on DVD from Kino on Video.

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