Monday, October 23, 2017

Dementia aka (Daughter Of Horror) (1955) Beat Noir Nightmare

Directed and written by John Parker (uncredited).

Produced by John Parker, Ben Roseman, and Bruno Ve Sota. The cinematography by was by William C. Thompson. Music by George Antheil an avant-garde composer, and Shorty Rogers and his jazz band the Giants in the nightclub sequence.

The film stars Adrienne Barrett, Bruno VeSota as Bruno Ve Sota (The Long Wait (1954), Female Jungle (1956), Night Tide (1961)), Richard Barron (Union Station (1950), The Hoodlum (1951)), Lucille Rowland, Ben Roseman (Night Tide (1961)), Angelo Rossitto (Freaks (1932), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)) and filmed in Venice, California in 1953.

The original production had no dialog. It used music and sound effects. The avant-garde score featured soprano Marni Nixon (who provided voice dubs for actresses in many Hollywood productions).

Night. Venice, California. A neighborhood in Noirsville section of town. A flea bag residence hotel. A flop. A young woman on a bed. She awakes, looks in the mirror. She grabs a stiletto knife. Heads downstairs and out into the shadows.

Adrienne Barrett

She meets a dwarf selling newspapers. Headline "Mysterious Stabbing," She continues on. Alleyways. She gets accosted by a wino. A police cruiser stops. The wino is beaten down by a policeman.

Angelo Rossitto

She walks on. A pimp propositions her. She accepts. She becomes the escort of a rotund rich man, getting into the fat cat's chauffeured limo.

The Pimp
While riding through the night the woman sees a Dickensian "A Christmas Carol" style flashback of a ghost holding a lantern beside gravestones. The first headstone is of her drunken abusive father, the second is of  her floozy mother. She relives her father shooting her cheating mother. The woman then sees herself stabbing him to death.

Bruno Ve Sota

The Flashback

Twilight Zone-ish flashback

Lucille Rowland (the Mother)

Ben Roseman (the Father)
The fat cat wines her and dines her. He takes her to bars and to a girlie show nightclub. He constantly leers between the rumba dancer and his "date." When he takes the woman up to his high rise she expects him to make a move. Fat cat however is more interested in eating than in sex. A butler brings him a roast chicken dinner which he eats grotesquely with his face. Dripping grease he approaches the woman with a money roll in one hand.  She is standing by an open window. When he grabs for her she stabs him with her stiletto and pushes him out the window, as he falls he rips a pendant from her neck.

Money for sex


the drop
The women runs out of the building to the body. The pendant is clutched in his fist. She uses the knife to cut off his hand. A police cruiser approaches and she runs off into the night. The policeman following her shining the spotlight has her dead fathers face. She has serious daddy issues.

Turning a corner the pimp from earlier grabs her and drags her into a cellar jazz club. The club sequence is somewhat reminiscent of the frenzied basement jazz jam sequence in The Phantom Lady (1944). The jazz band and it's appreciative crowd is equated with a wild, bohemian, let it all hang out, doped up, irresponsible hedonism. The woman is transformed into a torch singer, but soon policemen appear. At a barred window the the dead fat cat points at her with is bloody stump. The crowd manically laughs as they closing in around her .

A hand going up a skirt

The woman awakens in her flop. Was it all a nightmare? She opens her dresser drawer and finds the severed hand clutching her pendant. The POV back out through the window. A shriek. Then blackness.


The roots of these types of films can be traced back to Un Chien Andalou (1929).

The film is an entertaining prelude of the supernatural, thriller, experimental, noir-ish explosion to come i.e.,  Vertigo (1958), The Savage Eye (1960) Carnival Of Souls (1962) The Glass Cage (1964), and Seconds (1966), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962), The Twilight Zone (1959–1964), and One Step Beyond (1959–1961).

Screencaps are from a Youtube streamer. 7/10

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