As the narrator invites us to explore the horrors of an insane mind, a young woman wakes from a nightmare in a cheap hotel room. We follow her through the skid-row night and encounters with an abusive husband; a wino; a pimp and the rich man he panders for; a flashback to her traumatic childhood; violence; pursuit through dark streets; dementia. Filmed in film-noir style throughout; only the narrator speaks. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
This movie (originally 1953, I believe) is approachable on so many levels, it is difficult to say where to begin. We could start with the acting - Adrienne Barrett (whoever she is) is perfectly cast as the troubled, sinister, smirking, sexy anti-heroine. We could then examine the style - the mix of surrealism, expressionism, and film noir. We could then comment on the atmosphere - conjured through bleak-looking streets and unnerving music. Then there are the simple images - shadows growing and shrinking, gaunt faces, sharp contrasts between lights and darks. We might take a Freudian approach - the dysfunctional parents, the father imagery, the sexual symbols (cigars, no less!). There is also the Beat culture interest in the excellent jazz-band scene. There are also the intriguing comparisons one could make between the "silent" version and the narrated one.
As a horror movie in-itself, it may appear somewhat cheesy and overstated, but it clearly does not take itself too seriously, and you shouldn't either. Compared to other horror films I give it an 8, but due to its uncommon critical and historical appeal, I rate it overall a 9. Truly a unique achievement.
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