Mini Review Day 05: Dementia 13 (1963)
So many great and legendary director’s got their start in the 60’s, it was a great era for cinema and easy to see why lot’s of names started in this time. One such name is Francis Ford Coppola, who made his official directorial debut with Dementia 13 (1963) with Producer Roger Corman. The film only took 9 days to shoot, however after Corman declared the footage unreleasable he brought in Jack Hill to film additional scenes. While not much was added to change the film, it very much feels like a Coppola film, Dementia 13 shows a lot of elements that the man would use through his career.
A simple story is told here, a family living in Ireland (the Haloran’s) have extra family staying in their large house. Eldest brother John (Peter Read) and his wife Louise (Luana Anders) are out on a row boat. While discussing the lack of inheritance he will receive in his will by his mother Lady Haloran (Eithne Dunne), John has a heart attack and dies. Louise in a panic throws her husband’s body overboard and prepares to just spin a story that he left to New York. Louise must deal with not only Lady Harloran, but her two brother-in-law’s Billy (Bart Patton) and Richard (William Campbell) along with Richard’s fiance Kane (Mary Mitchel). As Louise tries to win over Lady Haloran she learns of the more family history and plans to exploit things to her advantage, that is until something horrific takes place and buried secret’s will come out.
The film very much feels like an Italian giallo film than a straight up horror film, there is a mystery outlining the story and a dark figure hiding in the shadows. There are some psychological elements in the film and it plays out quite smart and unexpected. For a low budget film with a quick shoot and some behind the scene’s issues, watching the finished product you wouldn’t even guess it. The story might not be wholly original, the film sure does feel original in its own way. It is nicely shot and paced, well written and intriguing. The acting is very hit or miss with the stand out being Luana Anders, she is compelling and enjoyable to watch on screen.
Francis Ford Coppola showed a lot of raw talent with Dementia 13, seeing the early days of the man who would go on make The Godfather (1972) is a good experience. He made a solid film with this, branching out to make a film that simply wasn’t gore, blood and nudity, Coppola stood his ground with his vision even if it upset his Producer. The film is a memorable one, from the early days of a new bloom in cinema.
Mini Review Day 06: The Other (1972)
The 70’s were a turning point in horror cinema, with the decade producing some pure classics such as The Exorcist (1973), Jaws (1975), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Suspiria (1977) just to name a few. While The Other (1972) does not get named when lists are made of memorable films from the 70’s. It is a film that should be mentioned, because there is so much at play and the themes are layered. The film doesn’t just belong in the horror genre, it is a drama and mystery as well. This is just one aspect that made 70’s film so memorable, films not just placed in a single genre and exploring so much beneath the surface.
The Other is set in the 1930’s during a hot summer on a farm, it follows the life of 12 year old twins Niles (Chris Udvarnoky) and Holland (Martin Udvarnoky). They have lost their father, their mother Alexandra (Diana Muldaur) stays inside most of the time, their sister Torrie (Jenny Sullivan) and her husband Rider (John Ritter) are expecting a baby, a lot is happening around them. While they spend their days getting up to no good, mysterious things begin to happen, lot’s of accidents with no rhyme or reason. Ada (Uta Hagen) their grandmother keeps an eye on the boys, but suspects the accidents happening around them all might have something to do with them.
Lot’s of mystery surrounds the story of The Other, it’s visuals are very dreamlike and the story holds up throughout. The film was written in such a way that the audience must work out much of what happens early on. Not much is explained, there isn’t much exposition, you are dropped in on this farm and must work out what is happening. It isn’t clear really who the twins are, which people are their family and why do them seem so isolated? It is through clever visuals and cues that one can work out the details, a really nice touch that certainly makes it easy to pay attention. There are some twists and turns along the way, unfortunately they are predictable if you just watch for the clues. Even knowing what is going to happen does not ruin the experience, you are on a ride and want to see it unfold regardless of figuring out any twists.
The film is smartly shot, the cinematography is quite stunning, direction is very well handled and the acting from the leads is outstanding. The twins are the stars of the film, the twins who played them Chris and Martin Udvarnoky only acted in this film, and they deliver some of the best child performances. The twins had this amazing and engaging presence, they didn’t feel like they were just reading off a script, parts of the film require some intense performances and it is incredible to think they had not acted before. Uta Hagen is excellent as Ada, another wonderful screen presence who captures attention and brings us in. Diana Muldaur does not have much screen time, but she makes the most of what time she does have and leaves a lasting impact.
The theme’s that lay within the story, perhaps have where the most horror is. Grief is a big subject for The Other, and grief is shown in many different ways by different characters. Mental illness is another theme relevant to the story, however this one is in there in a very subtle way. This is a film well worth watching, and one that should be mentioned among the other bigger 70’s titles.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea