THE HAUNTED AND THE HUNTED
There is a tendency among other critics to analyse Dementia 13 and see it overly much in terms of themes and style that Francis Ford Coppola would develop in later films. In truth, Dementia 13 is simply an enjoyable B-movie, one of the numerous psycho-thrillers that were being made around the time by Hammer and William Castle. Coppola is clearly copying the success of other psycho-thrillers such as Les Diaboliques (1955), Psycho (1960) and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). Considered in itself, Dementia 13 is only a minor entry in this genre.
Certainly, Coppola delivers with modest effectiveness. The opening scene holds the memorable image of Peter Reeds body and a still-squawking radio sinking down to the bottom of a lake. The axe attacks are quite strong for the time the film was made in one scene, the victims decapitated head goes bouncing down into the water, and then there is Luana Anders dispatch, hacked to death in a scene ingeniously shot up from under the surface of the water.
The plot is oddly haphazard, giving the impression of having been hastily slung together (not too surprising the way that Roger Corman made movies). It starts out as a Les Diaboliques-styled psycho-thriller involving a typically elaborate congame to obtain an inheritance but then abruptly kills off its up-to-then central character a la Psycho and takes off on a completely different, more traditional tack. However, the script fails to entirely satisfy there, with the denouement not making much sense either. Nor for that matter does the title Dementia 13 have anything to do with the film. Nevertheless, Francis Ford Coppolas flashes of style do cause it to stand out above the routine.
Francis Ford Coppolas other films of genre interest are: the re-edited Russian sf film Battle Beyond the Sun (1963); the leprechaun musical Finians Rainbow (1968); the time travel fantasy Peggy Sue Got Married (1986); Bram Stokers Dracula (1992); Youth Without Youth (2007) about a man who is miraculously rejuvenated; and the ghost story/vampire film Twixt (2011). Coppola has also produced work within the genre from George Lucass debut feature THX 1138 (1971), the alien visitor tv movie The People (1972), the ghost story Haunted (1995), the tv mini-series White Dwarf (1995) set on an alien world, Andrei Konchalovskis epic mini-series version of The Odyssey (1997), the X Files ripoff tv series First Wave (1998), the Hawaiian supernatural revenge film Lanai-Loa: The Resurrection (1998), Agnieszka Hollands Catholicism and miracles drama The Third Miracle (1999), Victor Salvas Jeepers Creepers (2001) and Jeepers Creepers II (2003), and the eccentric Hal Hartley monster movie No Such Thing (2001).
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