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DIRECTOR: John Parker RELEASE DATE: December 22, 1955 RATING: Unrated
CAST: Adrienne Barrett, Ed McMahon, et al.
// review by Jeff

You may walk away from this movie with dementia.

Before I wrote this review, I checked out all the comments left for this title on the Internet Movie Database website. All of them turned out to be relatively positive, a couple of them even going so far as to call this film a "masterpiece" and a "classic". Having seen the entire film myself, I have to wonder exactly what all of these fine folks were thinking. Now I may be a naïve fool, but I have to say that "Dementia" (later retitled "Daughter of Horror" with minor editing) is actually a boring waste of a budget. The only horror to be found is located in the minds of movie-goers who were probably wondering why they paid so much to see this awful movie at the drive-in. Frankly, the film is so dry that I actually likely won't be able to say much about it, thus providing a shorter review than expected.

The basic premise has the audience follow a woman slowly going insane with guilt. We see her traipsing through dark alleys and being annoyed by a boozehound in the shadows. Later, she is picked up by a pimp who sells her to a large wealthy businessman of sorts (and during the limousine ride, oddly enough, she has flashbacks to her childhood where she notes her parents' disgruntled relationship, and how she killed her father). In a hotel room, the two have a scuffle and the large man falls off the balcony to his death. She runs from the police and hides out in a nightclub where she ends up singing for a crowd; the police find her, and she ends up getting pointed at by everyone in the club. Finally, she wakes up, realizing it was all a dream... or WAS IT?!?! Hopefully it was. This film is basically a look inside the mind of a woman with dementia; unfortunately, I had trouble staying awake long enough to figure her out. The major gripe I have with this movie is its basic cinematic style. I can't say I'm a big fan of film noir; the movie feels more like an experimental project than something watchable by the mainstream populace. Another interesting aspect is that the original movie "Dementia" started out as having no dialogue whatsoever. However, it was later retooled as "Daughter of Horror" featuring the occasional narration of Ed McMahon, who would later become Johnny Carson's sidekick on "The Tonight Show". McMahon comes on and delivers a script of drivel that removes from the serious tone of the film. "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" he says, describing the main character. The only person guilty is you, Ed McMahon, for making me listen to such folly.

Besides the repetitive and freakishly spooky soundtrack (aside from the jazzy tunes played in the aforementioned nightclub, though that takes up a minority of the overall running time) which bears an overload of ghoulish female croons, the film is also uninteresting due to its visual style, combined with its speed of pacing. Because it is film noir, the images we see are dark and foreboding, but the scenes move along rather slowly so there's ample time for the average audience member to stretch, yawn, and grab a tasty snack without missing too much. In fact, now that I've pretty much outlined the entire film, I can really only recommend one scene worth watching, and that would be the supposedly infamous chicken scene where the oversized wealthy character sits down in his hotel room and gorges on chicken and other meats, greasing up his face nicely. The scene lasts far too long, but it can still gross out your significant other. And that's pretty much all you need to see. It's slow to start, slow to move along, and slow to finish. "Dementia"/"Daughter of Horror" is neither gripping nor full of horror, and would could not even keep the interest of a fellow such as I who enjoys poor B-movies. Only those truly intrigued by the film noir genre could possibly enjoy this tripe.


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