Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Daughter of Horror (1955)

Tagline:  "Not ONE WORD is spoken on the screen!"

Directed by:  John Parker

"Producer–writer–director John Parker is only credited as producer in the titles. In later years, actor and associate producer Bruno VeSota claimed to have co-written and co-directed the film with Parker." - Wiki

Dementia was produced in 1953, but was only released until 1955. It was also slightly altered and re-titled Daughter of Horror, with an added narration read by comedian Ed McMahon.

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The narration may sound hammy with it's drawn-out, overly-enunciated words, but I did enjoy it. The first words uttered "You.... you out there.... Do you know what horror is?", voice over the slow build up of its musical score, full darkness before it shows the view of the street and the room, actually made me smile with nostalgia. This is what I love about old horror films: it has a campy feel to it and yet it's more solid than modern-day horror movies (or most movies for that matter). Nowadays, you don't hear these words anymore....

"Come with me into the tormented, haunted, half-lit night of the insane. This is my world. Let me lead you into it. Let me take you into the mind of a woman who is mad. You may not recognize some things in this world, and the faces will look strange to you. For this is a place where there is no love, no the pulsing, throbbing world of the insane mind, where only nightmares are real, nightmares of the Daughter of Horror!"

The first scene already gives you the entire mood of the film. The flickering lights that cast shadow on and off in the Gamin's room, symbolizing how her mind works as well.

The cast is perfect. Each of them gives of a sinister feel to the movie, from a leering expression to every smirk or eye acting - perfect. Adrienne Barrett as The Gamin is really commendable. Even without the narration (which I would really love to see, I just can't find a copy), her portrayal of a disturbed or demented young woman is amazing. The camera angles and the play on shadow & light also gave her smirking face a very chilling sinister, sadistic look.
first pic: half of her face was buried in the shadow,
and it shows a sad or troubled expression.
Then the light flickers back on and
you see the other half is smirking.
Really creepy, how you can see The Gamin's psychotic side
and "normal" side in one face.

The musical score is the main reason why I wasn't bored at all. It's like a rollercoaster ride while seeing the equally rollercoaster ride of a story & visuals. It plays with your senses. Its dynamics parallels that what you're currently seeing. The crescendo and diminuendo constantly interchanges along with the continuously alternating play of light and dark photography and the sudden shifts of the psychotic mind of The Gamin played very well on each scenes. It keeps your heart racing and your focus never waning when one moment you hear the soft haunting sensuality of the music, then next thing you know, the same score becomes a shade creepier and puts you in a mind-altering, almost psychedelic mood. 


  • The newspaper scene with the midget.
  • the scene with the flower girl where The Gamin puts something in her flower basket. Her expression. :)
  • The Graveyard Scene: this is my favorite part... The Twilight Zone feel made me uber nostalgic, and the creepy faceless demon, and the humorously campy narration as The Gamin was reminded of her past, then the camera zooms in on her parents' gravestones, funnily yet creepily labelled only as "Father" & "Mother". The re-enactment scenes were so much fun to watch. 
  • The pulse of the neon light like a hammer at your brain: tormenting you, haunting you, forcing you to think, forcing you to remember your guilt, your horror; forcing you to go back, back, back, into the terror that you're trying to forget. Back through the mists of time into the graveyard where your secret lies buried from the world.

  • The Chase Scene:  that shaky spotlight shot was a nice touch. I love it. And that dog running after The Gamin, hahahahah. Cute.

  • The jazz band scene felt prolonged, but it's one of the best parts of the movie because it had so many interesting shots, and it summarized the paranoid schizophrenic state of mind of our anti-heroine.

The Verdict:

It's true that the narration cheapened the movie a bit, but it's not reason enough for one not to watch this film. Sometimes I find it annoying to hear the narrator and his cheesy lines, but there are also times when what he's saying gives a more noir flavor to the scene, and I love it. The underrated, obscure status of this cult classic astounds me as this is one of the most entertaining, highly experimental "silent movie" I've seen. It may not be as sophisticated as other highly acclaimed movies of the same genre, but it sure has it's own interesting style. The weirdness is like a rich chocolate cake that beckons to you and urges you to just wanna indulge. So what are you waiting for? C'mon, take a bite. =D

My Rating:  4/5

"Safe. Safe? At last. Yes, you are safe... in another hallucination of your crazed mind."

Dementia or Daughter of Horror? Which do you prefer?

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  1. VERY WELL WRITTEN ....... I cant add anymore to this actually, as you have described this movie with a unique quality of truth ...... This film was a work of art ......

    My fav scene was the ending .... Was that real? or was it insanity, growing deeper in her mind....

  2. Dementia I feel suits the title best..... Daughter of Horror sounds like a vampire flick.

  3. Dementia is more appropriate yes, but i like Daughter of HOrror.. it's unique. something cheesy and campy yet intriguing to it, just like the movie.

    oh i love the ending too!!! eveyrhing about it ! the fast zoom to the necklace in the drawer, the eye shot, the opening of the drawer.. the scream.. the flickering of lights... awesome..

  4. I see we share a love of the macabre, always nice to know another fan of horror!!! Great review!!! Loving your style!!!



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