Review: Dementia 13 Blu-ray/DVD

Dementia 13 Blu-ray/DVD combo boxSTUDIO: HD Cinema Classics/Film Chest/Virgil | DIRECTOR: Francis Coppola | CAST: William Campbell, Luana Anders, Peter Read Patrick Magee
4/26/2011 | PRICE: Blu-ray/ DVD Combo $15.99
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SPECS: NR | 75 min. | Horror thriller | 16:9 widescreen | 5.1 Surround Sound

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Dementia 13 movie scene

Luana Landers has a lot to be frightened of in Dementia 13.

The transfer to Blu-ray from original 35mm elements is apparent from the opening sequence in Dementia 13, the 1963 Roger Corman (Galaxy of Terror) drive-in movie directed by 22-year-old Francis Ford Coppola (Tetro). The scene finds comely Luana Anders (Easy Rider) and doomed husband Peter Read in a rowboat on a lake at nighttime. The sky and water are equally black — really black — and Luana is luminous and practically glows in the gloom.

And so it is throughout Coppola’s first film, a $42,000 quickie shot in Ireland on the heels of Corman’s The Young Racers. The transitions from whites and blacks to gray tones is vivid and admirable, and the producers of the Blu-ray/DVD were right in including a before and after bonus to show just what a difference the cleanup job makes.

William Campbell, who enjoyed a long career in B-movies and television — you’d know his face — and died May 3, plays an American-sounding welder-artist at Irish Castle Haloran getting ready to marry his American-sounding girlfriend (Mary Mitchell) when Anders shows up. Anders is there to convince her late husband’s clan (he died of a heart attack in that boat) that she can communicate with a dead relative, so as not to be cut out of the will. This plot is dropped shortly after her arrival in favor of one focusing on the death of the younger Haloran and the subsequent murders that spacey detective Patrick Magee has to figure out.

It’s said that Coppola wrote the script in under three days. Yes. Well. Some film buffs love this one despite its logical and horrific shortcomings (a different director was brought in to do a decapitation sequence since Coppola didn’t deliver Corman’s requisite violence).

It’s too bad the  prologue that was once attached to the film — an introduction by a “psychiatrist” who warns us of the dangers of watching the film — isn’t included here. Ditto for the commentary recorded by Campbell for previous DVDs of this public domain title.


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About Buzz

Buzz McClain reviews DVDs for Playboy magazine and is a former critic for Video Business magazine. But what he really wants to do is direct.