'Dementia 13' [Blu-ray]
(William Campbell, Luana Anders, Bart Patton, et al / Blu-Ray / NR / (1963) 2016 / The Film Detective)
Overview: Written and directed by a 24-year-old Francis Coppola, Dementia 13 centers on the dysfunctional Haloran family, who have converged at Haloran Castle to enact a morbid ritual in remembrance of Lady Haloran’s (Ethne Dunn) deceased daughter, Kathleen (Barbara Dowling).
Blu-Ray Verdict: For those not in the know, 'Dementia 13' is an early 1960's collaboration from director Francis Ford Coppala and film producer Roger Corman. Basically put, it is a horror story set in and around Ireland's Haloran Castle. The movie has really two stories that intersect each other halfway into the movie which sets off a series of brutal ax murders which for the time, the early 1960's, are as graphic as anything seen in films back in those days.
John Haloran, Peter Reed, dies of a sudden heart attack, which seemed self-induced, rowing a boat with his wife Louise, Luana Anders, on board one night. Getting nothing from John's estate if he dies before she does which was stated in John's will Louise frantically tries to hide John's body by throwing him overboard into the lake. Louise ties an anchor to his waist to keep John from floating to the surface and being discovered.
Back home Louise writes a letter attributing it to John stating that he's gone on an urgent business trip to New York and may not be back for some time. Louise then plans to talk John's emotionally unstable mother Lady Haloran, Eithne Dunne, into re-writing the will and include her in it with or without the survival of her husband. The next day John's older brother Richard, William Campball, is set to see his fiancée Kane, Mary Mitchel, who's arriving from the USA to meet Richard's family in Ireland. When Kane is picked up by Richard's younger brother William, Brent Patton, at the airport William tells Kane that tomorrow is the seventh anniversary of their 13 year-old sister Kathleen's, Barbara Downing, tragic death and the family is having it's annual ceremony to commemorate it.
Louise knowing how much Lady Haloran misses her beloved daughter Kathleen tries to manipulate her by trying to prove to her that she's somehow in touch with the dead Kathleen through communications with her from the "other side". This is to get her to like Louise, who Lady Haloran despises, and get her to change the will that she wrote up that left Louise out in the cold if her husband dies in terms of his inheritance.
Trying to convince Lady Haloran that she's really in communication with her daughter Louise tries to stage an event by taking some toys from Kathleen's room and planting them at the bottom of the pound where she drowned seven years ago.Louise plans at the right moment to have the toys rise to the surface in Lady Haloran presence to prove, to Lady Haloran, that she's telling her the truth.
What Louise doesn't know, by reviving suppressed memories of Kathleen's death, is that she set off and put into motion the person who was responsible for it to commit a number of bloody ax murders with Louise being his first victim.
Despite a shoe string budget and a unknown cast 'Dementia 13' (now here as a fully restored classic) is a pretty effective Horror/Mystery movie.The murderer is more or less reviled almost at the beginning of the film but in such a way to make you not realize it. In a good attempt of misdirection by Francis Ford Coppala the audience is made to look somewhere or at someone else in the movie which keeps you guessing who the killer is until the very end. Coppala's use of striking black and white photography as well as the effective use of sounds and shadows greatly adds to the suspense as well as creepiness of the movie. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.