I don’t know what DEMENTIA 13 means, but that’s the name of Francis Ford Coppola’s official on the record first feature directorial work, and it’s the rare Coppola horror outing, almost 30 years before BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA. It’s a tight little black-and-white Roger Corman production that seems to split the difference between gothic horror like the Poe movies (THE RAVEN, THE HAUNTED PALACE and THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH were released the same year, 1963) and the modern slasher like PSYCHO and PEEPING TOM (released three years earlier). It’s got a castle, a rich family and some possible ghostiness, but also a money scheme running afoul of an ax murderer. And there’s a mystery. And some brutality I wasn’t expecting in a movie of this era.
It’s got a great opening – John Haloran (Peter Read, THE BRAIN, TALONS OF THE EAGLE) is upset one night, wants to row out onto the lake to be by himself, but his wife Louise (Luana Anders, THE YOUNG RACERS, NOWHERE TO RUN) comes with him and bickers with him about money. His mother is sick and plans to will her fortune to charity – Louise wants him to talk to her about putting him in the will. All the rowing gets his heart worked up and he collapses. She goes for his heart pills (apparently this happens alot) but the container is empty, and he dies. (read the rest of this shit…)