A woman (Adrienne Barrett) is lying on a bed in a hotel room. She gets up and opens the dresser drawer. Inside is a knife. She picks it up and smiles. She puts on her jacket and walks out into the street. A newspaper vendor (Angelo Rossitto) is selling papers. She takes a paper and looks at the headline which reads “Mysterious Stabbing”. She drops the paper and walks away.
She is accosted by drunks. One of them (Gayne Sullivan) grabs a hold of her and tries to force alcohol into her. A plain clothes policeman (Ben Roseman) gets out of his car and starts beating on the man as the woman laughs and walks away. She is then stopped by a pimp (Richard Barron) who buys himself a flower for his lapel from a flower girl (Jebbie VeSota). He escorts her to a limousine.
Inside is a large rich business man (Bruno VeSota). She gets in the car with him. The man takes her to various nightclubs. Afterwards they ride to his penthouse. In the car she remembers back in time. In flashback she sees her father (Ben Roseman) always drunk and abusive. Her mother (Lucille Rowland) was having affairs with other men. Her father then shoots her mother. The woman stabs her father in the back.
Back in the car she follows the rich man up to his apartment. While he is playing the piano she pours him a drink. He ignores her and leaves the piano to where his butler (Ed Hinkle) set up a feast. The man shoves food in his mouth while the woman looks at him in disgust impatiently waiting. After he finishes his meal he lights up a cigar for a smoke.
He approaches the woman who pushes him away. The man then holds out a large roll of bills. The woman looks at it and smiles. The man tries to kiss her. She takes out her switchblade and stabs him. He steps back and goes over the balcony railing falling to the pavement. The woman runs out of the apartment building and into the street. She sees the dead man on the ground. In his hand is her necklace. She crawls to him and tries to get the necklace out of his hand.
Then things get really weird.
“Daughter of Horror” AKA “Dementia” was released in 1955 and was produced, written and directed by John Parker. It was referred to as an experimental horror film. The film is known for incorporating horror, noir and expressionist elements. This gives it a dreamlike quality. Parker only did two films. He also did a short called “En femme de l’horreur” which wasn’t released until 2011 and is even more obscure than “Daughter of Horror”. Very little is known about Parker other than he was the son of Hazel H. Parker, head of the J.J. Parker theater chain in Oregon. He was also married to actress Brigid Berlin.
The film was originally released in 1953 as “Dementia” and was promptly banned. It was again released in 1955. The film was acquired by film producer Jack Harris. Cuts were made and the film was re-released in 1957 under the title “Daughter of Horror”. The film was supposedly condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency.
If you’ve ever seen the original “Blob” 1958, this is the movie that was playing in the theater when the blob attacks.
There is no dialogue in the film. There is a narrator that is used in a couple spots but mostly the music score does more to tell the story than the narrator does. Originally the movie was silent but narration was added by Harris for the re-release. The narrator of the re-release was Ed McMahon. Most people hate the narration stating that it ruins the entire feel of the film turning it campy. They have a good point. It is a strange surreal film. I recommend the original “Dementia” over the “Daughter of Horror”.
Reportedly the idea for the film was based on a nightmare by Parker’s secretary. It is said that he cast her as the main actor in the film. Since no one knows anything about John Parker all that is supposition.
Comedian Shelly Berman has a cameo as a drugged beatnik and Aaron Spelling has one as a nightclub patron.