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Your June Unrandom Movie Club Results Are In!

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Pizza: Quickies

Preshow Entertainment: THE PRICE IS RIGHT





The movie we watched tonight was DAUGHTER OF HORROR (1955), and no, it's not the Dina and Lindsay Lohan movie on Lifetime. You've seen DAUGHTER OF HORROR, right? No?? Oh, then perhaps you know it by its original title, DEMENTIA. Still no? Well have you seen THE BLOB? You have? Well, then you've seen DAUGHTER OF HORROR...or at least a part of it. DAUGHTER OF HORROR, which from this point on will be referred to as the Homer-friendly DOH, was the movie that was playing in the scene where The Blob was in the movie theater. But is DOH a cool movie? Well, I think you'd agree that any movie beginning with twinkly starlights against a black screen as a narrator asks us - "You! You out there! Do you know what...horror is?" has got to be cool. "Come with me into the tormented, haunted, half-lit night of the insane," the narration continues. "Sure, why not, I'll come with ya," says I.

With a running time of 56 minutes, DOH is a short movie, and very low budget as well. It was shot (entirely?) MOS. (Wow, MOS! That quarter of a mil I dropped at NYU has finally paid off.) And nothing is looped, meaning there's no dialogue, just the non-deigetic (I learned that one post-NYU) sound effects, music (both on the track and played on screen by a jazz combo in a club scene, which sure looked like it was filmed live), and a Criswell-like narration provided by...hiyo! - Ed McMahon.

Adrienne Barrett (who made her next movie, which was also her last, 30 years later) plays an unnamed character (on IMDB, she's called "The Gamine"), who, when we first see her, awakens from a nightmare where she is walking into the ocean. You call that a nightmare?? Feh. I can do that while daydreaming at a red light. Anyway, she wakes up in bed still in her clothes, and dangling from her neck, a pendant that would make Flavor Flav jealous, and surely gave her neck pain (as if she won't soon have enough problems). She's in a small hotel room on the wrong side of the tracks. We know this from the neon sign that blinks in on her. She walks to the dresser and opens the top drawer revealing its contents - a switchblade. She smiles.

Rich Man (Bruno VeSota
Later, she accepts a ride and a night on the town from a Rich Man (Bruno VeSota, or Bruno Ve Sota, I'm not sure anyone knows for sure), who, after visiting a few clubs, brings her back to his palatial apartment. There, he plays piano and eats chicken, much to her disdain. But I'm with The Gamine on this one. The Rich Man's fat and sweaty face, dripping with chicken grease, is enough to disgust anyone. So is the way this movie treats women; as things to sell flowers in the wee hours on a desolate street, or on their hands and knees scrubbing a floor that looks like it would take years to finish, or, in more than one case - for cigar chomping fatsos to slap around. To be fair, it treats men as pigs, molesters and murderers. But is it all real or is The Gamine insane? What are we seeing exactly? Her point of view? The narrator's? The film's director's? A conglomeration? None of the above?

Elfin newspaper vendor
It's okay that there's no dialogue in this film, because words can no longer help her as she unravels. It's almost as if we're allowed to watch someone else's cheesy nightmare. But even a cheesy nightmare can be scary (or it wouldn't be a nightmare). The Gamine's dreams are populated with elfin newspaper vendors and spooky flower peddlers. It's a world where shadows of giants climb the sides of buildings, winos get beaten beyond repair by cops with blackjacks, and police allow wife-beaters to go back in their apartment to get their coats before being arrested without handcuffs (Fox's COPS wasn't around yet, so there was no danger in doing that). This is not a world for the nyctophobic. It's truly a psycho nightmare, one featuring guilt, anger and paranoia, all leading up to why DOH is called DOH.

Part of DOH's creepiness is because of its Expressionism, as seen in a flashback where deceased characters act out how they became...deceased characters. This play-within-a-movie occurs in a graveyard featuring minimalist sets and props, like a couch and a bed, all while the actors sit among stones of death. There are other ghoulish moments, those of the amoral kind, like when a character laughs while watching someone get beaten to a pulp or even killed.

Unless you count the severed hand, DOH is not a horror film. It's a Beat psychological thriller. Specifically, it's Freudian (the same actor who plays her abusive father also plays a policeman), but calling something a Freudian thriller sounds dull. There may be a murder or two in DOH, but it's the lead's psyche that bleeds.


For the music, experimental composer (though not so much in this venue) and way interesting cat George Antheil paints a picture of madness with his wonderful yet repetitive score. Complementing the music, vocalist Marni Nixon (best known for singing Natalie Wood's Maria in WEST SIDE STORY). Nixon's vocalizing is like a "human theremin" meets Pink Floyd's ANY COLOUR YOU LIKE. Almost a demonic version of the 60s STAR TREK theme. It's haunting and yes, cheesy. Yet effective. Yet cheesy. Later in the movie, when visiting a club, we find jazz combo Shorty Rogers and his Giants (I so much love that it's "his" and not "the") playing themselves (billed in the credits under "New Concepts in Modern Sound"). Besides working with Perez Prado, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton, Shorty went on to work on lots of TV shows including THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY, THE MONKEES and more importantly, THE UGLIEST GIRL IN TOWN. Because there's no dialogue in the movie, and it's not quite a silent film, the music from the combo makes this jazz club scene even eerier (is that even a word?). ODD NOTE: Comedian Shelley Berman (now Larry David's father on CURB) is in the club, credited as "stoned beatnik"

I can't tell if the production company, Exploitation Productions Incorporated, is named ironically or not, but DOH is not a so-bad-it's-good movie (even though it was shot by frequent Ed Wood cinematographer William Thompson). Often called a borrower from THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI and a precursor to REPULSION, DOH has a legion of fans, like directors Joe Dante and the late Preston Sturges, and now, me.

DOH is a film that does things differently and succeeds on many levels (and also fails on a few). But I love that they went for it. I love that they did what they wanted and it turned out really cool. I love that writer/director/producer John Parker never gave up on his cheap-o, bang-out, but very cool Expressio-noir film that no one paid attention to when he tried to get it distributed. Censorship boards repeatedly turned it away, though today, you can probably see this movie on Teen Nick. Originally titled DEMENTIA (it was five minutes longer and there was no narration), Parker could only get this film in one theater in NYC, where it came and went. But three years later, BLOB producer (Hey!! That's my nickname!) Jack Harris bought it, renamed it, and added the narration. In fact, legend has it (wait, "legend has it" sort of nullifies "In fact," right?) that although Parker is listed as director, it was none other than that chicken-slobbering Rich Man Bruno VeSota who directed the movie (some are convinced Parker was VeSota's pseudonym). At this point, not even Maury Povich could tell us who fathered this DAUGHTER. Either way, congratulations are in order. It's a daughter. A cool and creepy, creepy daughter.

Preshow Entertainment: THE PRICE IS RIGHT



THE PRICE IS RIGHT is the game show that just won't die. Since 1956, it's been on NBC, then ABC and then CBS, where it is today.. The episode we watched was from January 1964, which was the pre-"come on down!" era. Bill Cullen was the host and Johnny Gilbert (still working at 87 years old...on JEOPARDY!) was the announcer. There were three contestants and a celebrity guest contestant, in this case - Arthur Treacher. This was the same year he did MARY POPPINS and THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, even though he insisted he was unemployed at the time. Treacher, although stating he had watched the show before, was totally lost...or totally drunk, which was sad (and of course, funny). He was the only contestant that didn't win anything.

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