14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is for the elusive Roan (Troma) DVD of "Dementia 13" (1963) issued in 2001. The movie itself has fallen into public domain years ago and was said by the producer Roger Corman, that the original elements have been lost. This is not the case but there was bad blood between Corman and Francis Ford Coppola (director) producing this movie that he may have simply swept it under the rug leaving us with a generally shared master that over the years has been well worn. There are tell-tale signs that one original print master was used and others made from it hinted by damages in the same exact spots.
The Roan version is said to be "The Best" out there but it is far from perfect. The compression level is better than all others with blacks being solid. The audio level is low and there is a lot of "screen door" veil over the lighter solid areas. This is the Holy Grail of Roan DVDs and fetches high prices. It has the odd and rare movie trailer along with a couple of lame extras and a so-so commentary. Supposed to be widescreen, you hardly notice due to the odd ratio (supposed to be 1:66 but closer to 1:50). Another version put out by the now defunct Diamond Entertainment is identical but shows some compression yet acceptable unless you view it on a 1080p HD set. Even the Treeline version that comes in the 50-Movie packs (now Mill Creek) has a very good transfer considering but again minor compression artifacting (even viewed in HD). These two can be great alternate choices over the hard to find Roan and a LOT cheaper. Only hardcore buffs should invest in the Roan version.
By chance an eBay seller had one at a descent non-gouging price so I landed on it quickly to add to my collection. It will be my #1 copy right now until an official release (if ever) comes from MGM and you can throw away all the others not mentioned above. I have compared at least 8 different versions and the above three are the best out of the bunch!
Too bad that Roan has gotten out of the 'B' horror movie business restoring the lesser known and nearly forgotten public domain titles from decades past. Many were top notch but again, Roan's "Dementia 13" does fall a bit short which may be one reason it was short lived and now scarce?
Eric S. Huffstutler
2014 UPDATE --- Now that 5-years have past Roan and many of the "Public Domain" DVD distributors have went under years ago due to flooding the market with multiple copies, there was one final release in 2011 to now reign top. It is a BluRay-DVD Combo and is the best quality version out there by a company called HD Cinema Classics who may now also be out of business?
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
This is not the best horror movies I've ever seen, but one of the best films in terms of *atmosphere*. The frightening parts about it are less in the film itself than what the film suggests--the really psychotic point to which codependency can build, obsession, and a host of other disturbances, none of which involve the supernatural but suggest it. Along with the Vincent Price films he did, this is the best film you'll see that Roger Corman was involved in.
Luana Anders is, ironically, the strongest presence in this film. Thing is, she doesn't last very long, and the viewer isn't all that devastated when she does disappear. A scheming, money hungry witch, she preys on the co-morbidity of an elderly woman to the point of sadism. A young girl dies tragically at a young age. An Irish family living in Nowheresville idealizes her mysterious death to the point of madness. Someone is responsible, and we eventutally find out who. There are a few 'jump out of your seat scenes', one of them being the untimely (and grisly) death of Anders. It's been awhile since I've seen this film, but much of the imagery (dolls, truly 'demented' childhood memories, and the last exclamation by the ultimate culprit: "DON'T TOUCH THAT!") have remained with me. This is an odd blend, Corman and Coppola. A worthwhile old cinematic antique of misery.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2002
Francis Ford Coppola's first film of note, graduating from the tutelage of schlock-meister Roger Corman. It was made hot on the heels of Hitchcock's more famous Psycho, and is very similar in content and style.
Con-woman Luana Anders' husband-married-only-for-the-family-money dies before she can be included in the will, causing her to seek out a new scam. Deceased hubby's wealthy Irish family is more than usually superstitious, yearly celebrating with a morbid ceremony the date that their matriarch's youngest daughter, Kathleen, drowned in the lake out back. Anders poses as a medium and stages a few tricks to make herself look good to the rich matriarch, who buys her act. Eldest son William Campbell knows she's a phony, and kid brother Bart Patton has been generally kind of creepy ever since the day Kathleen died - which makes it kind of a toss-up as to who follows Anders out to the haunted lake one night, and cuts her up with an axe...
This movie succeeds on its acting and its atmosphere, which are terrific. Anders was good in everything she did, and this was probably her best role. Campbell never disappoints, and Patton is wonderfully intense and unsettling. The always creepy - and always good - Patrick Magee is on hand as the family doctor, who seems to know a great deal more about the recent mysterious disappearances (Anders isn't the only one who goes missing) than he's letting on. The music score isn't quite as frightening as Bernard Hermann's for Psycho, but it's damned close - the opening theme and credit sequence are terrific, even for American International Pictures, which was usually good in that department. Anders' murder scene will haunt your nightmares about as bad as Janet Leigh's in Hitchcock's film.
Well worth the time and trouble, especially for fans of film noir.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Louise Haloran (Luana Anders) accompanies her husband John (Peter Read) on a moonlight rowboat ride around the lake. Well, John's heart gives out and he drops dead in the middle of the lake! Devoted wife Louise dumps his carcass overboard and begins scheming immediately how she can worm her way into her mother-in-law's will. Louise pretends that John has gone away on a trip, and shows up at the family castle in Ireland to put her plot into operation. Upon arrival, Louise finds a family in the throes of insanity, as the matriarch, Lady Haloran (Ethne Dunn) has never fully recovered from the drowning death of her young daughter Kathleen. Every year since, the family gathers at Kathleen's grave, and tosses flowers by the tombstone until Lady Haloran collapses to the ground. Louise arrives just in time for the seventh annual observance of this macabre ritual! She realizes that mum is extremely vulnerable, and sets out to gain her confidence. She convinces her that she has heard Kathleen's voice in the castle. Louise places some of Kathleen's dolls at the bottom of the pond (where the drowning occured), weighted down by a wrench. She sees a most terrifying sight down there and re-surfaces, only to be hacked to death by a shadowy figure with an axe! The dolls pop up the next afternoon, sending mother completely over the edge. Her doctor, Dr. Caleb (Patrick Magee) tries to solve the mystery of the dolls, as well as Louise's sudden disappearance. A trespassing rabbit hunter is also dispatched by the axe maniac in grizzly, head-rolling fashion. William Campbell plays Richard Haloran. Bart Patton is his younger brother, Billy. Mary Mitchell is Kane, Richard's bride-to-be, who is the only ray of sunshine in this otherwise dark, gloomy place. Coppola offers some fine direction, and his story is full of nice creepy touches. This film was made for about the cost of the catering service in most modern day productions! It shows again, like in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, CARNIVAL OF SOULS, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, ETC., that money isn't everything in movie-making! Highly recommended...
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2011
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I first saw DEMENTIA 13 on late night TV back in the mid 1960s and the shadowy lighting, stark b&w photography, dissonant score, and brutal axe murders made quite an impression on me. It would be years before I would see the film again. I rented it from a Mom and Pop video store back in the early 1980s where it was on some bargain bin VHS label that touted it as Francis Ford Coppola's first film. The picture quality was not nearly as good as my old TV showing but it still remained a rather creepy film with stellar performances from Patrick Magee (of CLOCKWORK ORANGE fame) and the lovely and underrated Luana Anders whose facial expressions spoke volumes and whose late night swim was an adolescent's dream. Incidentally the reason she has dark panties during the swim (often pointed out as a goof) is that see through white panties would have been a no-no in 1963. Later on I would run across countless public domain copies of it but resisted buying one until now. I took a chance on this DVD version after reading some amazon reviews and am perfectly satisfied. It's not pristine but I think it's about as good as it's gonna get and the price is very good considering they'e throwing in a blu-ray along with it.
For those of you unfamiliar with the background story, here it is. Coppola was in Ireland in 1963 doing sound on Roger Corman's THE YOUNG RACERS when Corman gave him the opportunity to direct a low budget (estimates vary between $20,000 and $40,000) horror film using the same actors. Featuring several nearby outdoor locations and shooting interiors at the local Ardmore Studios, Coppola made this film in just a couple of weeks. It was released in America and did very well indeed while making money for American International Pictures overseas as well. The plot concerns a series of grisly axe murders commited during a family get together honoring the memory of a dead girl. Memorable scenes include an underwater grave, the murder of a local poacher, a nursery rhyme, and the aforementioned midnight swim. Regarding the DVD, the picture quality is quite good and the sound a tiny bit soft on occasion but clear overall. Too bad there are only Spanish subtitles. Along with HD Cinema Classics' other Filmgroup (Corman's shadow company) release THE TERROR, which was made the same year with a lot of the same technical people and also a victim of bad public domain copies, I'm glad to see these celebrated Corman "C" pictures finally receive their due.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2012
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Once upon a time, long before Francis Ford Coppola cemented his reputation as a Hollywood mover and shaker with "The Godfather" films and "Apocalypse Now", he was working as a sound tech on a low-budget Roger Corman picture called "The Young Racers". When the film came in under budget, Corman generously gave Coppola some of the leftover funds to direct his own movie. Reportedly cobbling together a script in three days and utilizing some of the cast and crew members from "The Young Racers", Coppola came up with the blood-drenched "Dementia 13" which played the drive-in movie circuit before becoming a staple of late-late night TV programming. After languishing for years in the public domain, the available print, a discordant, jarringly sucky copy secured by various hack-job, low-quality DVD production companies, faded into oblivion, an important but (for technical reasons) basically unwatchable milestone in the career of a world-class film director. Then, a number of decades later, somebody wisely recognized the significance of "Dementia 13", restored it, and gave it a proper release--only to have it quickly go out of print and head right back down the road to obscurity. Luckily for us, another company--Cultra--came to the rescue and "Dementia 13" has gotten yet another reprieve from filmdom's elephant's graveyard with this nicely done HD DVD/Blu-Ray combo. Restored "using elements from the original 35 millimeter print", this new release, while not perfect, is really quite good. Compared to the public domain version, this release is of near-Criterion quality. The only real flaw I found is some washed out imagery in the scenes filmed at night--and much of the movie was shot at night--but the restoration is such that I can overlook this.
Obviously influenced by Hitchcock's "Psycho", Coppola's horror mystery was filmed on location in Ireland, one of the shooting locales for "The Young Racers". The plot focuses on an extremely dysfunctional family who gather in a creepy Irish castle for a yearly memorial to a young girl who drowned. Neurosis, greed and subterfuge go full on with the unexpected arrival of an axe murderer, and it's up to the village doctor (?) to determine why key characters have suddenly gone missing.
At just over an hour long, "Dementia 13" is just the right length; there is no unnecessary exposition, no wasted scenes--it is a lean, mean little thriller with violence, gore and what passed for nudity onscreen in 1963. The acting is uniformly good, with Luana Anders giving a terrific performance as a conniving wife who's not above using superstition and suggestions of the supernatural to play on the emotions of her grieving, half-mad mother-in-law. Of equal note is Patrick Magee's performance as the village doctor, himself fairly mad, and not a little reminiscent of Marlon Brando during one of the "interesting" phases of his career. The rest of the cast acquit themselves nicely, and an atmosphere of dread is conveyed throughout the film, from the eerie opening credits, right through to the shock ending. There are some truly chilling scenes that are simpy unforgettable: Anders roaming the dark corridors of the castle at night, entering a room full of child's toys that suddenly seem to take on a life of their own; the mother stumbling across what appears to be the body of her long-dead daughter in a woodshed--that is, in short order, chopped to pieces by the axe-man; and the final scene where the identity of the killer is revealed. But it is Ander's midnight swim that is justly notorious: stripping down to bra and panties she dives down, makes a terrifying discovery at the bottom of the pond, only to resurface and come face-to-foot with something even worse--much worse. It's the scariest scene in a creepy, scary movie that is much better than its brief original run, and the subsequent inferior prints would have you believe. A classic of low-budget horror from a burgeoning artist in his youth.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is the best I have ever seen Dementia 13 on home video!
Cultra/Film Chest did a stellar job with the restoration of this classic gem of a film.
This is one of Francisc Ford Coppola's very first films.
This great combo set comes with BOTH a Blu-ray and a DVD.
Great job Cultra/Film Chest!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Francis Ford Coppola and Roger Corman are two names I would never have thought of putting together, but linked they are in the production of the highly enjoyable thriller Dementia 13. I was quite amazed to discover that Coppola got his start as an assistant to Corman, and this film, Coppola's directorial debut (the first he acknowledges, anyway), was actually filmed on the same set of the contemporary Corman production of The Terror. This really is Coppola's twenty thousand dollar baby, as he wrote as well as directed the film. I for one found it quite good. Although the killer is not that hard to identify, there were enough suspicions cast upon one or two other characters to keep me from putting all of my accusatory eggs in one basket before the climactic ending. There are also some twists and turns along the way that I didn't really see coming, and I was forced to change my whole outlook midway through the drama. Dementia 13 is not really scary or gruesome, but it does succeed in producing something akin to chills on one or two occasions. The murder weapon of choice is an axe, but the wielder of that axe is in no way very proficient; he can only succeed by hacking away maniacally until such time as he actually makes contact with the victim's body. He does have a natural talent for lifting a dead body by the hair and dragging it along behind him, though, which is always a plus on a mad killer's resume.
At the heart of this story is the tragic death of a little girl named Kathleen. Each year on the anniversary of her death, the grieving mother and her sons reenact the funeral service, which culminates in the mother's collapse. This particular year, two unwelcome guests reside in the family's ancient Irish castle, the greedy wife of the eldest son (who is unable to be there for reasons made quite obvious at the beginning of the movie) and the fiancé of another son. As individuals begin to mysteriously disappear from the castle grounds, almost everyone in the family becomes a potential suspect. The family doctor is yet another person to keep your eye on, as his behavior is questionable and suspicious at times. The deceased child Kathleen does haunt the family in a sense, and her appearance to an individual marks that person for certain axe-related death. I found this movie more and more compelling at it went along, and I quite enjoyed trying to figure out exactly who the killer actually was. The pace of the story was aided greatly by very effective background music, and Coppola definitely displayed the type of talent that would blossom into directorial greatness in his later career. If you enjoy a good who-dunnit movie, you will almost certainly get a big kick out of Dementia 13.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In the early sixties, two films were pivotal and paved the way to explore the last frontiers of the wounded mind, which meant a setback to the German Expressionism (As a matter of fact, Hitchcok was a big admirer of this genre). Those were Peeping Tom and Psycho. Two young filmmakers by then; Roman Polanski (Repulsion and Knife in the water) and Francis Ford Coppola accepted the challenge and undertook his first filmic projects.
An Irish and wealthy family keeps a secret. The death of Kathleen is like a huge shadow who covers the most hidden corners of the memories of all the family.
Remorse and sense of guilty are the basic elements of this good thriller that really got to create "a gothic atmosphere" .
It's important to cite another cult film from 1973 in the same vein: Nicholas Roeg's Don't look now.
An absolute cult movie all the way through.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Filmed at Ardmore Studios, Ireland, DEMENTIA 13 is notable mostly for being the debut film of Francis Ford Coppola. A grisly tale of murder, greed, and the power of the past, it is most notable for the performance of Luan Anders as an avaricious wife determined to lay her hands on the family fortune. Unfortunately she comes to a sticky end, as she is hacked to death by an ax-murderer. The film focuses on the dead hand of the past, that comes to haunt most of the main characters cooped up in the dusty corridors of Halloran Hall. Patrick Magee plays a sinister doctor, who finally understands the family's guilty secrets. The film is only 72 minutes long, and packs in a fair share of gory moments. Worth a look.