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Daughter of Horror (1955)

Daughter of Horror

Director:John Parker
Cast:Adrienne Barrett, Ed McMahon
Genre:Film, Horror

By Ian Grey | Posted

A few minutes into the black-and-white abyss of nightmare free association that is Daughter of Horror, a trauma-eyed girl described in the credits as "The Gamine" (Adrienne Barrett) dreams of being engulfed in a wave. She then finds a switchblade and dashes from her grimy hotel room into a film-noir Skid Row, where she encounters an ominous dwarf. Then she's attacked by winos, saved by a blackjack-wielding cop, and meets a creepy corpulent mystery man. After that, we take a gruesome jaunt to her childhood and things get really weird. (And we haven't even mentioned a great cemetery sequence, or the film's eerie severed hand sub-plot.) All this with no dialogue, except for the frenzied narration of Ed McMahon (yes, that Ed McMahon). Like David Lynch's Eraserhead, Daughter of Horror is a film that's immune to rational critique, or placement within any particular genre. Its chiaroscuro images inextricably draw the viewer not only into the Gamine's story, but, more ingeniously, into empathizing with her plight, despite the fact that we seldom comprehend what's going on. The film also presents one of cinema's great real-life enigmas: Director/writer John Parker, after displaying herein a mastery of technique and fluid narrative, never made another film.

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