Dementia: Daughter of Horror 2000 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
Floating somewhere in the netherworld of B-movie exploitation and art house psychodrama, John Parker’s ambitious dream film of a schizophrenic’s nightmarish existence is nothing if not unique. For years only available in the altered version Daughter of Horror, this unique bit of Freudian horror has been something of a holy grail for cult film buffs. Kino has uncovered the original cut and restored it to near-pristine condition. Shot entirely without dialogue or narration and filled with suggestive violence and psychosexual imagery, it’s like a skid row expressionist thriller following the nocturnal prowling of a young woman haunted by homicidal guilt. Parker can’t quite match his lofty ambitions with gripping drama, but he makes up for it with sheer audacity, from home-life flashbacks staged among the gravestones of a misty cemetery to the creepy faceless crowds that follow our tortured heroine through the city. Imaginative sets and vivid effects belie its starvation budget and create a strikingly austere urban mindscape and the eerie score by composer George Antheil (with wordless vocals provided by Marni Nixon) sets an unnerving mood. Handsomely shot by William C. Thompson (Ed Wood’s regular cinematographer—say what you will, Wood’s pictures look good), it’s like nothing else from the 1950s.
The DVD also features the alternate version Daughter of Horror, which was released to the drive-in and grind-house circuit and has narration by Ed McMahon. Only a few shots have been excised to please censors, but the cheesy narration delivered with affected doom transforms the entire tone of the piece. Also featured among the supplements is the essay “Dementia: A Case Study,” a well-researched and informative production history supplemented by reproductions of original letters, contracts, and industry documents. —Sean Axmaker