Serial killers! Weird overtones of bondage, bestiality, dominance and voyeurism, not to mention all manner of insanity and a whole lesbian sideplot they don't even try to obscure. And if the glorious pulchritude of Anita Ekberg isn't enough to provoke you, there's also the wit and glitz of Gypsy Rose Lee and the swingin' sounds of the Red Norvo Trio.
Screaming Mimi is based on the pulp novel of the same name by Frederic Brown.
the film opens with our heroine, Virginia (Ekberg) rising up out of the ocean like Venus, hair streaming, bosom heaving. She immediately takes a shower in a nearby outdoor stall when -- BAM! -- an escapee from the local Hospital for the Criminally Insane jumps outta nowhere waving a knife. (Exactly the thing that you always fear will happen when you take an outdoor shower. And, yes, this does pre-date Psycho.) She screams until her brother (stepbrother, actually) rushes out of the house and shotguns the lunatic. Just like Joe Biden would.
sedated and straitjacketed (That actually sounds kind of relaxing...) and then having a little talky therpy with her doctor, who insists through glassy eyes that he'll "do anything for" her.
cabaret acts and a happening band that only exists in old movies of a certain era. Not only do they have the Red Norvo Trio, vibes and drums a-clangin', but they have singing bartenders and dancing waiters, but in a way that isn't annoying. Gypsy Rose Lee barrels though, looking svelte in sequins, boisterously exhorting customers to "Drink up! You're on an expense account and my rent is due!" Hell, make it a round for the house and doubles to boot!
fetishy sleepwalk with manacles and ropes. Despite her bodacious dimensions, Ekberg is easily dominated by her Buscemi-esque Headshrinker/Svengali, who won't let her talk to anybody, but is happy to take the cash she makes writhing in front of strangers. Fucking typical.
Weegee style) to handle the dog. And point out to us that there's a "ripper" slashing blonde burley dancers. Blonde burley dancers who all seem to own the same tchotchke of a screaming woman, the "Screaming Mimi" of the title.
sleek mid-century pad, where she drinks cocktails in a fur-trimmed hostess gown while the teenage cigarette girl she obviously keeps dances around in ponytail and fishnets. If that wasn't wild enough, it's made pretty clear that Gypsy and Jailbait have been not just banging, but kicking the gong around as well, as indicated by Ace Reporter's comment on the smell and Gypy's blase, "A maiden lady aunt of mine just visited San Francisco, brought me some incense. From Chinatown."
"I just came up for a little gin and... sympathy."
Dita Von Teese recently bought at auction) and shimmies through a rather tepid "But the Blame on Mame." One sees a flash of what made her great during the vibe solo, when she forgets the "singing" and displays her flair for flipping her fringe and her fox fur. Afterward this bunch of gorgeous swingers in their posh club have a party with cake and barbershop quartets. Ekberg ducks out, later to hook up with Ace Reporter -- their love scene, lit by the alternating brilliance and darkness of a neon sign is a clever and stylish, yet touching piece of cinematography. Creepy obsessive Ace Reporter is marginally better than creepy, obsessive Headshrinker but, either way, the amount of hairgrease that these guys wear alone should have set off red flags for even a chick playing with a half a deck.
Ekberg isn't the best actress, but she is supposed to be foreign and somewhat out of it, which neatly covers her shortcomings. This is apparently the film that Fellini saw that inspired him to cast her in La Dolce Vita and one can see why: She has the lauded "flesh impact" of other movie bombshells, although on a slightly larger scale. As Dashiell Hammett said in Red Harvest, "it was like someone set out to paint a picture of a beautiful woman and ended up with a mural."