DAUGHTER OF HORROR: Movie Review

Daughter of Horror
by Colleen Wanglund, MoreHorror.com

I found this movie by chance one night on TCM’s The Underground, a late night showcase for some odd, quirky or strange movies usually horror or exploitation films. When the opening credits read “By Exploitation Productions Inc.”, I figured I just may have found a hidden gem that I knew nothing about. I wasn’t disappointed.

Directed by John Parker, DAUGHTER OF HORROR (1955 or 1957-there’s some confusion on that) follows a woman (Adrienne Barrett) on a night out in Skid Row. We are told it’s Skid Row through scenes of a man being arrested for domestic violence, winos attempting to attack the woman, and a seedy club that she enters. Prior to entering the club the woman appears highly unsettled at a newspaper headline about a murder. The woman meets a pimp who sets her up with a fat cat (Bruno ve Sota) trolling for some company (wink, wink). He takes her back to his high rise apartment where he gluttonously eats a meal of greasy chicken while she watches. When the man makes his move on the woman she pulls out a switchblade and out the window he goes. Was the unsettling newspaper headline meant to be prophetic?

The woman makes her way out of the building where she sees the man’s body, clutching in its hand her medallion which was ripped from her neck as he fell. She knows she cannot leave any evidence behind so she attempts to get the medallion back. The woman has returned to Skid Row but things are not what they seem. She has entered a nightmare world where reality no longer seems to exist. At one point in the movie the woman follows a mysterious man into a cemetery where the scenes of her horrible childhood and her parents’ murders play out in front of her. Maybe the headline was a reminder to her of her past.

There is no dialogue in DAUGHTER OF HORROR just a voiceover at just the right moments that seem to highlight the mental instability of the woman and the world of murder and evil that she seems to reside in. The demonic-sounding voice is none other than Ed McMahon….yes, Johnny Carson’s sidekick. The movie itself is dark, brooding and bleak from the outset. It shows murder, dismemberment (although fairly tame by today’s standards) and prostitution, as well as hinting at rape, drug addiction and police corruption. The movie runs for only a little over an hour but it is powerful in its imagery, both the real and surreal.

What I found particularly interesting is the original cut of the film was titled DEMENTIA and between 1953 and 1955 it was put before the censor board almost a dozen times but was refused a license of exhibition.

There are scenes that were cut and the resultant re-edited piece was 1957’s "DAUGHTER OF HORROR". Both movies were released together on DVD by Kino Video in 2000.

Another interesting tidbit that I discovered in my research is that this movie is the one shown on the screen in the theater during THE BLOB. Supposedly a movie poster for DAUGHTER OF HORROR was run once in Famous Monsters of Filmland and even Forrest Ackerman thought it was a fake.

DAUGHTER OF HORROR mixes horror, noir and surrealism into a beautifully dark and disturbing story. This is one flick that should be seen. It would make an excellent addition to any number of theaters’ midnight screenings. I highly recommend this one.

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