Strange and fantastic tales of the 20th century is a look back at the strangest, most memorable, and most off-center films of the 20th century. From horror that turns heads to eccentric sci-fi, this column examines the films that will leave a lasting impression for centuries to come.
It is a difficult task to impress the in-laws. It’s even more difficult when you’re a gold digger and the family you got married to has tons of issues and dark secrets. Mourning, greed and ghosts set the tone for Francis (Ford) Coppola’s 1963 horror thriller Dementia 13. Produced by Roger Corman, this week’s weird and fantastic twentieth century tale is about an old movie remade by Blu-ray. Put on our deer stalker hat and solve the mystery of Dementia 13.
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A bickering couple takes an irritated boat ride. John Haloran goads his wife Louise that if he dies, she will never get a dime of his family heirloom. Well, he gets totally angry because he’s having a heart attack and dies. Louise quickly goes into survival mode and hides the evidence of her death and makes John look like he’s gone on business. If they can’t find a body, he’s not dead and she’s still legally his wife.
Louise is skillfully played by Luana Anders. Louise is greedy and devious and although she is not a murderer, she is manipulative and takes on Lady Haloran, her stepmother. Lady Haloran mourns her daughter Kathleen, who drowned as a child for seven years. Louise decides to use Lady Haloran’s mental state to her advantage, but is prevented from doing so by an unknown attacker wielding an ax.
This sets in motion a new mystery which in turn deconstructs the secrets of the past. There is a Gothic castle, a ghost child, secret passages, and a person stalking the estate. There is a young lady and her angry fiancé. The elements of a Gothic story are presented in Dementia 13 which ends its story in just over an hour. This black and white film is rich in suspense and atmosphere. While not a long movie, it is complete in its storytelling and the construction of its characters. Dementia 13 focuses on the crippling effects of grief and childhood trauma. It is stylish and makes efficient use of lighting and atmosphere.
Before there was even a whisper of The Godfather, there was Dementia 13. Find out and see how some of Coppola’s style is present in this first work. Catch your favorite parasitic partner and see if your sensitivity can handle the history of Dementia 13.
Dementia 13: Director’s Cut is available on Blu-ray and digital on September 21
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