DVD review: 'Dementia 13'
And why not? Frugal filmmaker Corman had just wrapped a cheapie called “The Young Racers” under budget on location in Ireland and, hungry to cash in on the success of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” the way the equally tightfisted William Castle had with “Homicidal,” Corman decided to assign protégé Coppola the task of scripting and directing a shocker that in some way would involve the bloody murder of a half-naked young woman. It would be funded in part with leftover cash from the previous production, and proceeds from another producer who purchased the English rights to the film – $40,000 in all.
UCLA film school grad Coppola had served Corman well as an editor on “Battle Beyond the Sun” and dialogue director on “Tower of London” (both 1962), associate producer of “The Terror” and sound man on “The Young Racers” (both 1963). Coppola turned in a script almost overnight and ended up helming a fairly intriguing thriller called (inexplicably) “Dementia 13,“ about the greedy Louise Haloran (B-movie regular Luana Anders), who unintentionally causes her husband’s fatal heart attack, then schemes to have herself written into the will of her rich and crazy mother-in-law.
Shot in and around a spooky old Irish castle, and using much of the cast from “The Young Racers,” including William Campbell and Bart Patton as Louise’s weird brothers-in-law and Patrick Magee as the nosey family doctor, this gothic chiller included some impressively artful camera angles and an opening underwater sequence involving the sinking of a dead body and a diehard transistor radio that hinted at the Coppola genius that would develop in a few short years.
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