Dementia 13 – 1963 – English
Film directed in 1963 by Francis Ford Coppola, and starring William Campbell, Luana Anders, Bart Patton, Mary Mitchel, Patrick Magee, Eithne Dunn, Peter Read, Karl Schanzer, Ron Perry, Derry O’Donavan, Barbara Dowling…
Synopsis: When John Halloran dies of a heart attack, his wife fears she won’t collect the inheritance. Then he writes a letter to the rest of the family announcing that John has had to travel to New York on business.
When he moves to the family home looking for a way to keep the money, he discovers that the family is celebrating a morbid ritual … Coppola’s first feature film.
Review: This early Coppola movie was a surprise. I was expecting a haunted house story, but this is more along the lines of Psycho (hence the title?). The opening scene is simultaneously moody and comical and easily the most memorable part of the movie. The story here is pretty morbid, with a family gathering at their castle for the yearly memorial of their dead little sister. Louise (Luanna Anders) married into the family and could care less. She just wants to get written into the matriarch’s will (oh, and get the matriarch offed!) so she can get her hands on some cash. Anders is perfect at playing cold and conniving and her nasty character is classic.
The score is pretty effective in parts, but gets a little over-the-top and repetitive at times. The main problem with this film is it is way too short and ends very suddenly. It was filmed on a miniscule budget, apparently using the set of another movie during the hours it wasn’t shooting, so that might have something to do with this. The first half is darkly amusing and atmospheric, but the second half is just violent post-Psycho exploitation with little payoff.