Saturday, November 12, 2005

First Post

So...have you ever wondered what the "Nightmare of Ecstasy" sequence from Glen or Glenda would have looked like if it had been directed by Orson Welles? Perhaps you've thought Touch of Evil might have worked out fine if Ed Wood had made it.

Yeah. Me neither. And yet this hypothetical is suggested by Tim Burton's fantasy meeting between Wood and Welles at the end of his biopic of Wood. I wonder if Burton ever saw Dementia or its butchered version, Daughter of Horror, which plays like what I described in the last paragraph. It's Welles's Glen of Glenda or Wood's Touch of Evil. Take your pick. The evidence: it was photographed by Wood's longtime cinematographer, William C. Thompson (who shows that it wasn't HIS fault that Wood's movies looked like crap). The film was shot on the same locations in Venice Beach where Welles shot Touch of Evil. Further, director John Parker never met a dutch tilt he didn't like and the skewed perspectives and deep-focus shots that make up the entire film are straight out of Welles. But the plot is pure Wood. A young woman ("The Gamine" in the credits) wakes from a nightmare, grabs a switchblade, and heads out into the city at night. She falls in with bad company. A pimp sets her up with a fat rich man (who bears a startling resemblance to Welles), and her encounter with him sends her into a spiral of madness that ends with a confrontation in a jazz club. Then she wakes up again. Go figure.

Fortunately for the film there's no dialogue, unless you happened to be watching the "Daughter of Horror" version, in which there is a hysterical voice-over that out Criswells any of Criswell's pronouncements in any of Wood's films. Even in the original version, the viewer is treated to a deranged George Antheil score in which Marni Nixon (later the singing voice of Deborah Kerr and Audrey Hepburn) shreiks like a human theramin. This score seems to have been re-used by a ton of grade z movies, but it was new here, so I'll forgive the familiarity.

If a film that seems like the mutant love-child of Maya Deren and Albert Zugsmith sounds like your cup of tea, then by all means, check this out. It's a one of a kind weirdie. Plus, it's short, so if Marni Nixon's voice begins to send you scrambling up the wall, you won't have to endure it for long...

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