Dementia was released in 1955. It was filmed in black and white and there is not a single line of dialogue in the entire film. The strange thing is the film works very well without it and you migtht be relieved to learn that there are none of those annoying storyboards either—if you have watched any really old films such as Nosferatu (1922) you will know the kind of thing I mean. The closest thing to a storyboard in Dementia is when a sheet of windswept newspaper has a headline about stabbings in the area.
Dementia was re-released, with an added narration, under the title Daughter of Horror. To be honest, I find there is little benefit gained from the added narration. The narrator does a little speech at the beginning of the film and turns up now again too add his two penneth worth to things, but to my mind the film can hold its own without any such help.
In its most basic Dementia is the story of a mad woman who wakes from a sleep troubled by strange nightmares. Once awake the troubled young woman takes a switchblade out of a drawer—it’s a real pig-sticker too—and then wanders out into the nighttime streets of skid-row.
The woman runs into a pimp and then spends the evening with the rich and rather obnoxious guy that the pimp pimps his stuff for. The client is a real pig of a guy and there is one scene, where he sits feeding his face with chicken, that is awe-inspiringly disgusting to watch (and I’m normally quite partial to chicken too). The evening does not end, perhaps, as well as the-piggy-one would have liked, but I don’t think that too many viewers will have a lot of sympathy for him.
There are also some rather surreal flashback sequences where the young woman’s mind is carried back to her childhood, and Ma and pa, it would seem, were not exactly role-model parents.
At times the woman seems confused about where she is and what is happening. Later on she appears to change entirely, as if different sides of a split personality were tuning in and out. If you should decide to watch the film—it runs for less than an hour and is certainly worth watching—you might find that, by the end, you are wondering just how much of the woman’s adventure was real and how much was in her head. Did she leave hotel room at all? I certainly wondered all of these things. How much was in her head? Perhaps this is exactly what the character asked herself every day of her life. This is a strange film about a strange woman’s even stranger life and it really is pretty good, but don’t take my word for it watch it and find out for yourself.
Director: John Parker
Adrienne Barrett … The Gamine
Richard Barron … Evil One
Ed Hinkle … Butler
Lucille Howland … Gamine’s Mother
Ed McMahon … Narrator
Faith Parker … Nightclub Dancer
Ben Roseman … Gamine’s Father/Plainclothes Cop
Angelo Rossitto … Newsboy
Gayne Sullivan … Wino
Bruno VeSota … Rich Man
Jebbie VeSota … Flower Girl