Dementia, or Daughter of Horror

1955 nightmare

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A woman has a bad dream.

Jazzy noir! With a great eye to capture an oily night with noirish shadows and haunting imagery, director John Parker is a freakin' auteur! I'm really excited to check out the rest of this guy's work, and I'm surprised I've not heard of him before.

Unfortunately, this is Mr. Parker's lone movie. It's a travesty! This haunting and surreal piece of horror art showcases a promising director. Just look at object placement and framing. There are shots that reminded me of Last Year in Marienbad, these little visual riddles, still-life choreography that felt simultaneously complex and simple. Just check out those shadows, that chase scene featuring a newspaper, that jazz scene that viscerally showed music like La La Land's Damien Chazelle, that nightmarish black and white cinematography.

What makes this more chilling and more dreamlike is the complete lack of dialogue. Except for some narration by a guy you're used to hearing talk to Johnny Carson, there's no language to guide us through this strange nocturnal journey.

Almost all of the actors in this don't even have their own Wikipedia pages, including Adrienne Barrett who plays "the gamin." There are three interesting exceptions though. One is an uncredited performance by the great Angelo Rossitto as a guy selling newspapers. It's a very small role, but it was still fun seeing him.

Second, Ed McMahon is the voice of the narrator. See, there's no dialogue, but there is Ed McMahon to ineffectually tell us what's going on. It's odd narration, likely completely unnecessary. And third, Aaron Spelling is apparently in this movie as a patron of a nightclub.

I also want to note the score, this exotic jazz with disembodied, wordless Yma Sumac-ish vocals. Shorty Rogers (and his Giants) are actually in the movie during the jazz club scene, but the score is by avant-gardist George Antheil.

One more note: This movie is playing in a movie theater in The Blob. You've probably always wondered what that film was.

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