In 1953, a no-budget distributor called Van Wolk-API released Dementia, a fifty-seven minute art film masquerading as a horror movie. It was the invention of rookie (and one-time) filmmaker John Parker, who based his screenplay on a nightmare had by his secretary, Adrienne Barrett. Likewise inexperienced, she got the lead role in a cast that included such recognizable Poverty Row character actors as Angelo Rossitto and Bruno Ve Sota. (Then unknown, the young Aaron Spelling appeared briefly as a drunk.) Parker shot it without dialogue (his cinematographer was William Thompson, Ed Wood’s d.p.), and then had avant-garde composer George Antheil write a score, with input from Ernest Gold (composer of the Exodus soundtrack), siren vocalist Marni Nixon (Gold’s wife, she dubbed the singing voices of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady and Natalie Wood in West Side Story), and the jazz ensemble Shorty Rogers and His Giants.
Downbeat magazine was right on the money when they called it “The first foreign film ever made in Hollywood.” While it’s unlikely that Hitchcock or Welles ever saw Dementia, you can see and feel reverberations of it in Touch of Evil, The Wrong Man, and Psycho. Van Wolk-API paired it with a documentary about Picasso for a limited run. A couple of years later, Parker added narration, toned down a gruesome little dismemberment scene (which had the New York censors in a lather), and retitled it Daughter of Horror for extra mileage.
While Dementia is the superior of the two versions, Daughter of Horror is perfectly capable of knocking first-time viewers for a loop. Both are available on a single DVD from Kino, or you can watch Daughter of Horror in its entirety online, compliments of the thoughtful folks at the Internet Archive.
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Daughter of Horror online