Thursday, April 10, 2008

Essential Cinema - 24

Dementia 13

William Campbell
Luana Anders
Bart Patton
Mary Mitchel
Patrick Magee
Eithne Dunne
Peter Read

Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola

Charles Hannawalt

Classic horror film where past mistakes and mental illness come back to haunt the present, literally.

Cinema history and not much else. A predictable tale of murder, retribution and mystery. When mental illness goes unchecked there can be deadly results.

I found this film in the public domain online and downloaded it. I had heard of it before, but never really knew what it was about. After the opening credits I was surprised to see that it was produced by Roger Corman and directed by Francis Ford Coppala (one of his very early films).

While the film starts out in an interesting manner, it quickly becomes a rather simplistic horror film that is straight forward and somewhat predictable. I suppose that this may have been an early attempt at a "thinking man's" horror film, but it is low budget and doesn't really hit its stride in the mental sense.

The acting in the film is a bit stiff and wooden and the dialog / screen writing is not really up to par. One interesting aspect of the film is the rather loud and clunky Foley work. The sound of footsteps and creaking doors is often times overpowering in some scenes and distracts from the action that is going on.

The two best performances in the film are turned in by the wife that drowns her husband in the opening scene and the family doctor that has a rather creepy edge to him. The rest of the cast is just going through the motions.

It is interesting to see where Francis Ford Coppola started, but needless to say, he could only have moved up from here. This might be good to watch on a dark stormy night with your teenage girlfriend, but hopefully you will end up necking on the couch before the final credits roll.

A Special Update: After this cinema review, I am going to make some changes to this series.

In the past, I have been watching and reviewing films that I have collected from various sources. Many have been on DVD, that I have recorded off of Turner Classic Movies, and some I have downloaded from the internet. That is going to change.

I have an extensive LaserDisc collection (that seems to keep growing thanks to ebay). For those that don't know what a LaserDisc is, they were the cinemaphile medium for film before the advent of DVDs. They look like DVDs but are the size of 12" LP records (if you don't know what a 12" LP is, I can't help you).

I am going to start reviewing my LaserDisc collection systematically. If I review one a week, I have enough to last me till my death, if not longer. I have that many of them. Most of these films are Hollywood classics and foreign films not genernally seen in the US these days. So if you thought my past reviews were obscure, wait till you see what is coming.

The added bonus for you the reader, is that I am digitizing most of these to play on my iPod (which is where I watch most of these films now-a-days). That means if anyone of you really wants to actually see one of these films, I can make them available for download via the internet. They will be in DIVX format which is a form of AVI movie. The free DIVX player is available online (

I hope to be posting a listing of my entire LaserDisc collection and can take some requests once I have it up on the net.