Archive for the ‘Cinemashame’ Tag

Dementia 13 (1963) Revisited on Blu-ray   3 comments

I wrote a review of Dementia 13 a while back, but that was based on seeing a fairly grainy version on YouTube. Last fall, the lovely people at Film Detective sent me a Blu-ray of the fun horror gem. I had some dumb technical issues so I’m just watching it now. Sorry, Film Detective. I didn’t forget you.


“People get so dramatic when they’re not invited to the wedding.”

Dementia 13 was made in 1963, in black and white, for $40,000. Francis Ford Coppola filmed it, with Roger Corman’s blessing, around the set of The Young Racers, also starring William Campbell and Luana Anders. It’s just 75 minutes long and it’s a terrific little thriller. It’s not a perfect film, but it moves along and the acting is good, especially from Patrick Magee, who plays—surprise—a sinister doctor.


“Oh hi.”

Since I first watched and wrote about this film, I’ve seen it a few times, but it’s never looked this good. The Blu-ray version is crisp and clear and I managed to see more details of Dementia 13 in this viewing than I ever have. It’s a real treat to see a film you like in the best possible way. Director of photography, Charles Hanawalt, uses a lot of natural and dim lighting. That makes sense considering the modern Gothic setting. It also means that in the past, I’ve had to strain to catch details. Not this time.

I enjoyed actually seeing Dementia 13 after all this time. If you’re a fan, the Blu-ray is a must.

Psst…below is my review of Dementia 13, with a few additions.

borg

Fishy fishy in the brook
Daddy’s caught you on a hook
-Nursery rhyme

As John Haloran rows across the lake on his family’s Irish estate, he teases his wife Louise (Luana Anders). If he drops dead, Louise will inherit none of the Haloran wealth. Pro tip: Never annoy your wife in a rowboat…if you have a bad heart. The always resourceful Louise dumps John overboard, packs his suitcase, and tells the family he went to New York on business. She’ll stay at the Haloran castle and get to know them while John’s away. Psst…it’ll be a while. It doesn’t take long for Louise to see just how nutty the Halorans are. Richard (William Campbell) solders bad art and scowls. Billy (Bart Patton) walks around in a fog telling people about his dreams. Lady Haloran, fixated on death and grief, holds funerals to commemorate a funeral. Creepy Doctor Caleb (Patrick Magee) tells everyone they’re doing it wrong in a ‘Get into my van. I have candy.’ kind of way.

creepy
“…and then I crushed its head.”

They’re a fun bunch.

funeral
Weeeeee!

Louise, ever the multitasker, figures she’ll push the already dotty Lady Haloran over the edge using a few props from the nursery while insinuating herself into the family and the will. Her simple plan runs into a snag, however and then the fun really starts.

monkey
If you see this you have gone too far.

Francis Ford Coppola (yes that one), wrote and directed Dementia 13 with some tweaks by Jack Hill (The Bees, Coffy). Coppola gives the film a creepy quality by using odd camera angles and off-kilter close-ups and filming so much of it at night. The look reminded me of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). Even the dim day shots look dismal and give the black and white film an eerie atmosphere.

spy
Eavesdropping on the funeral.

What’s missing is dialogue and character development. What dialogue there is works, but the characters need more to say to help us get to know them. More realistic conversations might also decrease the tendency toward exposition. Also, for a film set in Ireland, I found the lack of Irish accents from almost all the lead characters somewhat baffling. According to articles on the making of Dementia 13, producer Roger Corman assigned Coppola to make a gory version of Psycho on the cheap so he dashed off a script and went into production. In spite of this and the fact that this marked Coppola’s non-porn directorial debut, it’s a good gothic horror film with a creative plot and some genuinely scary moments. The nifty chamber music by Ronald Stein enhanced the mood as well. I understand why this has become such a cult favorite and I’m glad I finally saw it.

Thanks again to the folks at Film Detective.

Fun fact: Early on in the film, Louise discusses Richard’s girlfriend saying, “You can tell she’s an American girl, raised on promises.” Sound familiar? It’s pretty close to the first lines of the Tom Petty tune, “American Girl”, released in 1976. I can’t find definitive information to link the song lyrics to the film, but it’s a neat tidbit.

quality
A sure sign of quality

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Check out cinemashame.wordpress.com for more horrific reviews and @cinemashame on twitter.

I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

October 2, 2014

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The Innocents (1961) 31 Days of Horror   2 comments

innocent

Michael Redgrave hires Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) to act as governess to two lonely children on a sprawling estate in the English countryside. Kerr bonds instantly with the little girl, Flora (Pamela Franklin) and her strangely sophisticated brother Miles (Martin Stephens). The mansion and grounds are beautiful and Miss Giddens adores children so it’s like Mary Poppins, right? Wrong. As time goes on the loneliness of the manor and Miss Giddens’ repressed nature play tricks with her mind…or do they? Is Miss Giddens losing her grip on reality or are the images of the children’s dead governess and her lover real?

kerr

The Innocents, based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James and directed by Jack Clayton (Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Great Gatsby) blurs the lines between reality and imagination. Is Giddens’ repressed spinster a source of salvation or doom? Are the children innocent and imaginative or conniving and evil? Filmed by director of photography Freddie Francis (The Elephant Man, Dune) in glorious black and white, The Innocents plays with perception and perspective. Images thrust into the foreground catch your eye, then recede as a shadowy form in the background gains clarity.

spookyyy

If you turned off the sound, which adds an eerie aspect as well, you could still watch and enjoy the film’s spooky atmosphere. Wonderful performances by Deborah Kerr, Franklin, an underused Michael Redgrave, and the über creepy Martin Stephens of Village of the Damned fame make this a top-notch psychological horror film on the same plane as The Haunting. The Innocents just made it onto my yearly Halloween watch list. Terrific film.

shadow

I wrote this for the @cinemashame 31 Days of Horror Shame-a-thon. Check out @thirtyhertzrumble.com for more eerie reviews. I am @echidnabot on twitter.

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Eyes Without a Face (1960) 31 Days of Horror   2 comments

postereyes

Louise (Alida Valli) drives down a dark deserted road while eerie carnival music plays in the background. She pulls over, opens the trunk, drags a large package along the ground, and throws it into the river. In the next scene, Dr. Génessier (Pierre Brasseur) speaks at a surgical conference on the transferring of body parts from one animal to another. Sounds great so far, right? I mean, you have to love a film that starts out with a body dump and a lecture on organ grafting. After his speech, the doctor heads to the morgue to identify his daughter, Christiane and the party really starts. Despondent and incredibly quiet, dad returns home to see…Christiane. Yeah, it’s that kind of film.

french

I remember having insult fights as a kid and saying dopey things like, “You should go to the store and buy a new face!” The writers of Eyes Without a Face take that to the next level. The French Dr. Mengele and his henchwoman Louise lure young girls to his country home and use them for spare parts. It’s pretty nasty.

chloro
Does this rag smell like chloroform?

Director Georges Franju, who made a name for himself filming horse slaughterhouses interspersed with children playing does creepy well. The film looks beautiful. Pierre Brasseur, as the not so good doctor, goes about his dirty business with a charmless, blank expression as if he understands the depths he has reached, but feels compelled to go deeper. Alida Valli also knows she is doing terrible things, but continues because of her loyalty to the doctor. The spooky prize in Eyes Without a Face goes to Edith Scob as Christiane.

chris
A face? Pour moi?

Her face obscured for the majority of the film, she still manages to exude an alien je ne sais quoi. Christiane moves slowly and seems to float. Her dancer’s body stands erect despite her character’s tenuous grasp on reality. She too knows she’s part of something evil, but can only relate to the collection of dogs her father has collected to experiment on.

woof
You understand me.

I was snake fascinated by Eyes Without a Face, but I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it. The disturbing plot combined with the disturbing characters, and the disturbing surgical scenes make for a genuinely…you guessed it…disturbing film.


You want my what?

Moody circus music by Maurice Jarre (The Longest Day, Sundays and Cybele) added to the overall ghoulishness. As usual, I’m glad I saw Eyes Without a Face. I’ll remember it the way I remember the face of the odd guy I run into at the dry cleaners who I watch out of the corner of my eye in case the police ask me about him later. If you’re into that, you’ll love this movie. You might also like the short included on the Criterion DVD. Called Le Sang des Betes (Blood of the Beasts) it’s a documentary about French slaughterhouses. I managed about four minutes of random images before they started offing horses and I moved on with my life. Anyway, Les Yeux Sans Visage, as they say in Paris, is a film you’ll remember, but may wish to forget.

bird

I wrote this for the 31 Days of Horror Challenge on cinemashame.wordpress.com
Look for more horror reviews on thirtyhertzrumble.com

I’m @echidabot on twitter.

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October 7, 2014

Suspiria (1977)   Leave a comment

sus

American Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) travels to Germany to enroll in Joan Bennett’s snooty ballet school. Run by Alida Valli, who looks like she might be hiding there to avoid prosecution for war crimes, the school seems to favor gossip and whispering over dance.

alida
“Quit being blind!”

Right away, things at the school go awry. Students die in ghastly ways, maggots appear, and Suzy passes out after a nasty dizzy spell…with blood. As she recuperates, Suzy starts to suspect the ballet academy serves as a front for a more nefarious institution.

face
So much for orientation.

Dario Argento directed Suspiria and wrote the screenplay along with Daria Nicolodi and based it on Thomas De Quincey’s book. The spare dialogue and simple plot strewn with narrative distractions is just the canvas Argento uses to paint his story. If not for the appropriately jarring music by Goblin, you could easily turn off the sound and just watch this bizarre and colorful film. Don’t turn off the sound though. The soundtrack is amazing.

redredred

Argento, cinematographer Luciano Tovoli, and production designer Guiseppe Bassan use richly hued sets and brightly-colored lights and lenses to paint each scene a different color. In one scene, Udo Kier wears a grass green blazer the identical shade as the building behind him. Douglas Sirk would be proud.

udo
Did you two plan this?

I enjoyed Suspiria. While the acting is fine, but not special, the visuals paired with the Tubular Bells-ish music, and gruesome, creative deaths make it a blast to watch. The spooky Rosemary’s Baby atmosphere contributed to the mood of trippy paranoia. I’ve wanted to see this cult favorite for a long time and I’m glad I finally did.

rrr
Sleepover in the redrum, I mean red room!

I wrote this piece a few years ago, but saw the film at the Coolidge Corner Theatre just last night (October 17, 2017). If you get the chance, see this on the big screen with the Goblin tunes blaring.

I originally wrote this for the 31 Days of Horror Challenge on cinemashame.wordpress.com
@cinemashame and @thirtyhertzrumble on twitter are also playing. Check out the other horror reviews on their sites. I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

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31 Days of Horror 2014   Leave a comment

skully

I love Halloween. I decorate every room in my house and fill my yard with skeletons, gravestones, and disembodied heads. I am the only one in my neighborhood who does it. I know I’m not the only one though. Many adults with kids get a kick out of Halloween. They love seeing the cute costumes and the reaction of their children to spooky decorations. Well, my kid is seventeen and I’m still doing it. For years I made her costumes and helped her make invitations to her yearly Halloween party. Did I do it because I’m a good mom? Possibly. I think it might be because I love making skull cookies and punch with an ice hand floating in it. I love using toilet paper dowels and glow sticks to fill my bushes with glowing eyes. I also love horror movies. I’m a big fan of psychological and atmospheric horror, but I welcome gore as well.

ting

This year, I plan on watching a horror film every day in October. I will write a little something about each film. I won’t write tomes, just short posts consisting of impressions or highlights of each film. I’ll post links on twitter and use the #31DaysofHorror

twice told tales axe

Since I’m planning to watch some horror films I’ve never seen before, I’ll post here on prowlerneedsajump.wordpress.com and on cinemashame.wordpress.com throughout the month.

I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

Here are my proposed #31DaysofHorror
I will watch them in no particular order. I reserve the right of substitution based on TCM’s schedule. 🙂

1-Eyes Without a Face (1960) **
2-Torture Garden (1967)
3-The Man Who Cheated Death (1959) **
4-Homicidal (1961)
5-The Uninvited (1944)
6-The Savage Bees (1976) **
7-In the Mouth of Madness (1994) **
8-Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) **
9-The Cat and the Canary (1939) * **
10-The Creature From the Black Lagoon 3D (1954) *
11-The Thing (1982) *
12-Poltergeist (1982) *
13-Suspiria (1977) **
14-The Innocents (1961) **
15-The Fog (1980) **
16-C.H.U.D. (1984)
17-Tales From the Crypt (1972)
18-Vault of Horror (1973) **
19-Kill, Baby Kill (1966) **
20-The Deadly Bees (1966) **
21-Equinox (1970) **
22-The Legend of Hell House (1973) **
23-Mark of the Devil (1970) **
24-Dawn of the Dead (1978)
25-Wolf Creek 2 (2013) **
26-The Devil’s Rain (1975) **
27-Carnival of Souls (1962) **
28-Terror Out of the Sky (1978) **
29-Dementia 13 (1963) **
30-Berberian Sound Studio (2012) **
31-Black Sunday (1960) **

I’ll probably watch some old favorites like The Shining, Freaks, The Dead Zone, and The Haunting. I watch The Haunting every Halloween. I love that old house.

* In the theatre
** First watch

yipes

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Posted September 30, 2014 by Kerry Fristoe in 31 Days of Horror, Lists

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