‘Suspense around every curve!’
Screaming Mimi is a 1958 American Film-Noir thriller about a buxom blonde exotic dancer who is stalked by a killer known as The Ripper. Or The Slasher…
Directed by Gerd Oswald (A Kiss Before Dying) from a screenplay written by Robert Blees (Frogs; Doctor Phibes Rises Again; Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?) based on a 1949 novel by Fredric Brown.
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 known as The Ripper, a journalist (Philip Carey) who’s fallen for Ekberg does what he can to solve the mystery — and save her life…
“Unlike other B-movie thrillers of its era, Screaming Mimi is a genuine oddity which revels in the kinky detail and seems a much purer reflection of its pulp fiction origins than most low-budget thrillers. One reason for this is the striking chiaroscuro-like cinematography of Burnett Guffey which brings a painter’s eye to the visual clichés of the genre.” Cinema Sojourns
” …there are some good performances here, particularly from Harry Townes as the psychiatrist. There’s also some good music from jazz xylophonist Red Yost Norvo […] It could have been a real winner, but it falls a bit short, and I suspect that the reason for this is the presence of Anita Ekberg.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“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.” Film Fanatic
” …despite a certain tawdriness and uncertainty about the best way to tell its story, there’s still something rather compelling about Screaming Mimi. At its heart, it’s about the effect of trauma and the dangerous effect of love which are strong themes that almost always involve on some emotional level. And the more I think about it, maybe Ekberg’s vagueness does suit her character after all…” Horror Cult Films
“There’s never a sense of momentum here, no feeling of progressing towards some resolution. Instead, events just seem to come along and happen in no particular order, then head off in any direction whatever, just sort of strutting and fretting across the screen till their allotted hour-or-so is over at last.” Mystery*File
“Oswald’s stylish touches help divert attention from the dim dialogue and cringeably wooden acting (a prime example is an all-too-typical love scene that’s lit entirely by a slowly blinking advertisement outside an apartment window). This psycho-drama is a four-star showcase for Anita’s limited acting talents and unlimited bustline…” Shock Cinema
“Screaming Mimi is more of a muddled melodrama with psychological undertones than a horror movie and for the most part feels like a slightly risqué soap opera. Anita ain’t much of an actress although she’s hot enough to get by on her looks and considerable bust.” The Video Vacuum
Cast and characters:
Anita Ekberg … Virginia Wilson / Yolanda Lange
Philip Carey … Bill Sweeney
Gypsy Rose Lee … Joann ‘Gypsy’ Masters
Harry Townes … Doctor Greenwood / Bill Green
Linda Cherney … Ketti
Romney Brent … Charlie Weston
Red Norvo … Red Yost
Red Norvo Trio … Red Norvo Trio
Alan Gifford … Captain Bline
Oliver McGowan … Walter Krieg
Stephen Ellsworth … Doctor Joseph Robinson
Vaughn Taylor … Raoul Reynarde
Frank J. Scannell … Paul, the Bartender
Most of the soundtrack score for Screaming Mimi was recycled from On the Waterfront.
Italian filmmaker Dario Argento loosely adapted Fredric Brown’s novel (uncredited) for his 1969 film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.