Friday, October 14, 2011


Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Written by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring William Campbell, Luana Anders, Bart Patton and Sophia Coppola as the whiny daughter who gets horribly murdered

Well, this is Psycho in a castle, basically. A woman commits a crime (kills her husband), goes to some far off place (an Irish castle), and promptly gets murdered (in a pond). Just when you thought she was the main character, she gets killed. Oh Francis, you saucy saucy director. The rest of the movie is spent following people as they try to figure out who the killer is. Hint: he’s a hotel-owning taxidermist.

I couldn’t find a relevant picture, so I thought
I'd include John Candy because why not.

"If you’re going to be my wife, you’re going to have to be the trusting, silent variety."

There are two reasons I decided to write about Dementia 13. One is thanks to The Moon Is a Dead World, one of my favorite blogs. They’re doing a series of horror reviews in preparation for Halloween, and I wanted to match a few of their reviews. That blog is always a fun read.

The other reason I wanted to watch Dementia 13 is Francis Ford Coppola. That guy is the reason this film hasn’t fallen off the face of the Earth. This is his big break in cinema, courtesy of Roger Corman, and even though it’s a cheapy American International picture, it has a great reputation because of its director's subsequent films. That said, Mr. Coppola isn’t known as being one of the most consistent directors, which also intrigued me. I didn’t know if this film was like Apocalypse Now… or like the behind-the-scenes of Apocalypse Now. Remember, Coppola directed at least three of the greatest films of all time. He also directed the budding onscreen romance of JLo and Robin Williams.

No nudity, though the female lead shows off some of her curves, especially when she’s swimming in the haunted pond.

Heck yes. I mean, the film is tame by today’s standards, but it has some extremely stylish murder scenes. I’m a sucker for people discovering dead bodies underwater; I’ve always liked seeing people struggle for air after the shock of seeing a floating body part. It’s Jaws-syndrome. And then the murder directly after: genius! For all the story’s faults, it is still shocking in the best sense of the word.

While I think the basic plot outline has a lot of potential (and so did Hitchcock, which is why he used the EXACT SAME PLOT), but the execution is so hard to follow, it’s almost nonsensical. Visually, the film is great. It’s stylish, and the underwater scenes are truly scary. When compared to similar cheapo horror films from the early 60s, this one really is beautiful.

But you’d also think that Coppola would be able to string together an easier-to-understand film. The plot is not complicated, and yet I had to watch the movie twice to understand who was who. From a storytelling standpoint, this is less Godfather Part II and more Cotton Club. And that is a shame.

This has nothing to do with anything; I just thought it was quaint.

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