Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dementia 13 (1963)

...aka: Haunted and the Hunted, The

Directed by:
Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola's "legit" debut (after the nudie movies TONITE FOR SURE and THE BELLBOY AND THE PLAYGIRLS) was this good, atmospheric low-budget shocker filmed on location in Ireland for producer Roger Corman. Coppola was given a modest budget of just 30,000 dollars and access to the same sets and some of the same cast and crew from Corman's production THE YOUNG RACERS, which was filmed in Ireland at the same exact time. Thanks to several cleverly placed jolts and an imaginative handling of a stale 'old dark house'/'murder-for-the-inheritance' idea, it is one of the better non-Poe AIP productions from the period. Sexy, nasty blonde Louise (Luana Anders, in one of her best roles) is a recent widow who covers up the death of her wealthy husband, who informs her “If I die, there’s nothing in it for you!” right before keeling over with a heart attack. She sinks the body, forges a letter, pretends nothing happened, packs her suitcases and goes to visit the Haloran family estate. Frequent voice-overs (“I can get rid of her…one way or another”) reveal Louise’s true intentions for the visit, as she plots to drive her already batty mother-in-law (Ethne Dunn) even crazier by playing up on the old lady’s infatuation with her long-dead young daughter Kathleen. Before she’s too far along in her plan, she’s brutally dispatched with an axe after stripping down to her underwear and discovering a creepy shrine dedicated to Kathleen at the bottom of the same pond where she drowned.

Suspicion for that crime, and the ones that will follow, falls not only on the Lady of the estate, but also her eldest artist son Richard (William Campbell), his pretty fiancee (Mary Mitchel), middle son Billy (Bart Patton) and family doctor Justin Caleb (the always great Patrick Magee). Though the score is overbearing and the photography often overly bright, the screwy plot has its fair share of twists, the large castle set, complete with underground catacombs, is used to maximum effect and the bloody murder scenes (including a hand hacked off) still pack a punch after forty plus years of duplication. Jack Hill gets a credit for "second unit writer."

Score: 6 out of 10

1 comment:

Csstoe said...

I really liked this, though I wasn't expecting to. I need to watch this again soon. The underwater scene was very creepy.

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