Dementia (1955)

Not Rated   |    |  Film-Noir, Horror, Mystery

Dementia (1955) Poster

This film, with no dialogue at all, follows a psychotic young woman's nightmarish experiences through one skid-row night.

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John Parker

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4 December 2010 | dougdoepke
Welles Meets Corman
Thanks be to TMC for reviving this curiosity for a popular audience. I can't imagine what the movie's producers foresaw in the way of audience potential. I gather the film was shot in 1953, certainly not a promising period for an experimental feature of any kind. I also gather the atrocious narrative was added later to maybe give the package commercial appeal. But not even a 50's drive-in farthest from town would book a weirdo like this. Perhaps college area theatres would have booked it as a midnight feature, playing up the sex angle. Anyway, to me, its origins appear puzzling, indeed.

All in all, the end result is about as schizoid as the lead female character, combining striking visuals and special effects with amateurish acting and brain-dead narration. Someone in production certainly had an artistic eye for visual composition—check out the long shot of the gamin entering and exiting the spacious hotel lobby. They're beautifully composed. Actually, the visuals suggest that perhaps Welles saw the production before filming Touch of Evil (1957), especially Dementia's skid-row area that resembles Evil's Venice beach locations.

Certainly the movie has its cheesy elements. But to call the movie itself cheesy is to miss the artistic undercurrent that kept me hooked.

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