“I know there’s gotta be a story when two sexy blondes are knifed the same way — and both have the same taste in statues!”
After nearly being killed by a psychopath, a voluptuous blonde (Anita Ekberg) is sent to a sanitarium, where her psychiatrist (Harry Townes) falls obsessively in love with her and helps her get a job working as an exotic dancer at a nightclub run by Joann “Gypsy” Masters (Gypsy Rose Lee). When Ekberg is nearly killed once again by an unknown assailant, a journalist (Philip Carey) who’s fallen for Ekberg does what he can to solve the mystery — and save her life.
This atmospheric serial killer flick (directed by Gerd Oswald) remains a minor cult flick due primarily to the lead presence of voluptuous Anita Ekberg, two years before her infamous appearance in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita; while no great actress, Ekberg is so outrageously endowed that she projects an undeniably magnetic presence on-screen. The opening scene — in which Ekberg is nearly killed by a knife-wielding psychopath while taking an outdoor shower — holds cinematic interest as well, given that it predates the infamous “shower sequence” in Hitchcock’s Psycho by two years. And fans of the legendary Gypsy Rose Lee will be grateful to catch a rare glimpse of the diva on film (though her performance of “Put the Blame on Mame” is tepid at best). The storyline itself — a psycho-horror tale involving mind control and mysterious sculptures known as “Screaming Mimi”s — is overly convoluted, but Burnett Guffey’s superbly noir-ish black-and-white cinematography helps to elevate the film a notch above its pulpy, B-grade script.
P.S. Any devoted film fanatic will immediately notice that much of Screaming Mimi‘s soundtrack is lifted directly from On the Waterfront — a seriously annoying distraction.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Anita Ekberg’s sultry nightclub dances
- Burnett Guffey’s atmospheric b&w cinematography
- The Red Norvo Trio (performing at Gypsy Lee’s nightclub)
Yes, for its status as a cult favorite.