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Dear Dead Delilah (1972) - Blu-ray Review

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Dear Dead Delilah (1972) - Blu-ray

4 beers

Gothic gooey gruesomeness prevails the censors!

Nashville country legend "Cowboy" Jack Clement might have never produced another feature film, but Dear Dead Delilah, his one and only, is truly unforgettable.  Few, before this Blu-ray release from the fine folks over at Vinegar Syndrome, were able to see the movie outside of random and regional television broadcasts.  That changes now.

For those unaccustomed with the slow-moving attitudes of the south, the ax murders at the center of his horror film won’t be enough to sustain your interest.  That’s a bummer, but I get it.  I really do.  The film takes its time with its details.  Outside of a search for money and some really gruesome murders, nothing much happens except for the slow destruction of an entire family line.  However, for those well versed in the literature of the landscape, Dear Dead Delilah just might be the recipe for the sun-brewed tea you’ve been craving. 

"William Faulkner would be proud of what the film achieves when it comes to southern friend family dysfunction.  Dear Dead Delilah delivers!"


At 97-minutes, this film, considering its subject matter, moves like molasses.  But, as a prototype of the Slashers to come, it also seems to be setting up a stage of sorts for things to come in B-movie land.  The film is directed by novelist John Farris (The Fury) and it shows with the amount of time it takes in building strong characters and establishing a rich and haunted environment.

The film begins with a shocking murder that gets us in the mood for more grisly antics.  There is a woman, face beaten in, staring at herself in the mirror, she’s talking to a corpse.  It is her mother.  We don’t hear any of her mother’s words, but the girl does.  And they aren’t nice.  Obviously, especially when the head is discovered, the girl is insane and responsible for the murder.  Soon enough, she is put away for a long, long while.

To her family, the decrepit Delilah Charles is a raving bitch.  She hates her entire family.  But she has something they want: money.  When she announces that she is going to die soon, a series of murders rocks the South Hall and, one by one, the lineage to the money is not-so carefully reduced.  There can only be one after all.

So, yeah, the chopping of the blade doesn’t happen again until much later.    But, wait for it, there is a scene involving a cutting with an ax that is beyond belief.  It happens in real time as a woman confronts a man and swings away at any limb close enough to reach.  And it isn’t the little girl doing any of it.  It is a couple and they, with all the cuts to prove it, are all about sex and violence.

The characters are rather interesting and, as they all want a piece of their matriarch’s pie, things get desperate really quickly.  The cast, featuring Agnes Moorehead (right before she passed away) as the aging queen of this money-grubbing family, is strong and includes Will Geer (The Waltons), Michael Ansara (Day of the Animals), Dennis Patrick (Dallas), Anne Meacham (The Gardener), Robert Gentry (All My Children), Elizabeth Eis (Dark Shadows), and an effectively bizarre performance from one-timer Patricia Carmichael as Luddy Dublin.

Dear Dead Delilah (1972) - Blu-ray

Dear Dead Delilah is steeped in southern Gothic traditions.  From its slow burn pacing to its sudden shocking violence, this horror film – with Moorehead (Bewitched) in the title role – is one involving (and very sick) low budget flick.  You might not flinch when the ax starts swinging, but you won’t forget the moment it happens.

William Faulkner would be proud of what the film achieves when it comes to southern friend family dysfunction.  Dear Dead Delilah delivers!

Dear Dead Delilah (1972) - Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
95 mins
Director
: John Farris
Writer:
John Farris
Cast:
Agnes Moorehead, Will Geer, Michael Ansara
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
You Pay For The Whole Seat - You Only Use The Edge!
Memorable Movie Quote: "How can I destroy people when they've already succeeded in destroying themselves?"
Theatrical Distributor:

Official Site:
Release Date:

DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 28, 2018
Synopsis: Back in 1943, Luddy viciously murdered her mother with an axe. 30 years later and freshly released from the state mental hospital, deemed ‘cured’ of her violent impulses, Luddy’s luck seems to be turning around, thanks to a chance encounter with the family of Delilah (Agnes Moorehead), the miserly matriarch of a large plantation estate. She quickly finds herself hired as Delilah’s housekeeper, but no sooner than her arrival at the cavernous and secluded mansion, grisly murders begin to take place. And worse, each time a new corpse is discovered, Luddy finds she is unable to recall her whereabouts at the time of the bloodshed. Could her old self be coming out, or is someone else trying to set her up for more sinister motives?

Dear Dead Delilah (1972) - Blu-ray

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome
Available on Blu-ray
- August 28, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

It’s not polished by any stretch of the imagination, but Vinegar Syndrome’s handling of Dear Dead Delilah is much appreciated.  The sleeve says that the film, presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, has been newly scanned and restored in 2K from the 35mm camera original.  Colors aren’t bold and the weather makes everything look warmer which, if you ask me, is a plus.  There’s few details in some of the suits, but the style is detailed.  Blood flows righteously through the smallest of wounds and, as a result, red is the color that looks the best.  A 1.0 DTS-HD MA track brings the film to life. 

Supplements:

Commentary:

• None

Special Features:

Want to know how Clint Eastwood was involved with this film?  Check out Farris’ interview!  A DVD copy of the film is also included.

• "Family Secrets: The Making of Dear Dead Delilah" - an interview with director John Farris

• Promotional still and article gallery

• Reversible cover artwork

• English SDH subtitles

Dear Dead Delilah (1972) - Blu-ray

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