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Dementia 13 (1963)
Movie Review by Professor Corpse Rot

Dementia 13 (1963) Francis Ford Coppola, the former protege of Roger Corman, directs this black and white feature about murder. If you're not familiar with Coppola, he directed such titles as the Godfather Trilogy, Apocalypse Now, and 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula. In 1963, Corman completed the filming for The Young Racers over in Ireland; Coppola was a designated sound technician. He allowed Coppola to use the leftover funds from the project to direct a low-budget, mainstream horror movie. It's obvious that Coppola was still an amateur at this stage of his career and it's an interesting back story of how this film came about. It is considered his first notable endeavor as a director.

Louis Haloran's husband, John, dies of a fatal heart attack late one night out on the lake. Thinking quickly, she pushes his body over the side to cover up his death. With a scheming plot in mind, she notifies John's mother that she intends to visit them in Ireland while John is away on business; his death remains a mystery to ensure her place in Lady Haloran's will - one that documents the terms of the family inheritance. If it is discovered that John is no longer living, she will forfeit her eligibility as the recipient of the fortune. When she arrives at the family castle in Ireland, the plot unfolds and new developments are added to the tale. A psychopath is on the loose, killing off individuals who are tied to a past family tragedy.

Most of the atmosphere "completed itself" so to speak, given it was shot in black and white. Stylistically, it reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho which was released 3 years earlier. Apparently this is the feel that Coppola wanted to mimic. Unfortunately, the storyline here is pretty weak and predictable. I won't ruin it for you completely, but there is one scene where a woman is killed and dragged out of the lake by her arm. Coppola managed to effectively capture an eerie and demented scene here. Overall, I was disappointed by this film - it came with the Frightfest - Nightmare in a Box set that I received as a gift awhile back. I don't mind that it's in my collection; just definitely not a favorite.

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