BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Dementia 13 - Director’s Cut: Vestron Video Collector’s Series (1963)

Dementia 13 - Director’s Cut: Vestron Video Collector’s Series

The umbrellas.  The Flowers.  And Mother’s collapse.  Every year, it is the same thing.  Welcome to the cruel and keyed-in paranoia of Dementia 13.  If the headaches brought about by this dysfunctional family don’t get you, the axe murderer just might.

"With a 4K restoration overseen by Coppola himself, this is the version to be seen, studied, and appreciated"


For the first time ever, Dementia 13 is back in writer/director Francis Ford Coppola’s hands and, thankfully, he wants to share his tale of gothic terror with appreciative audiences. Who hasn’t been haunted by the image of Luana Anders being dragged across the ground?  I know it has fueled many of my nightmares.  

This black-and-white horror film, Coppola’s first film, shines again thanks to Vestron Video Collector’s Series’ overall handling, complete with new digital 4K restoration and a new introduction from Coppola himself.  This is a film for the demented; a film for anyone who would do anything for just a bit of inheritance; a film for anyone feeling a bit haunted by past events and people.

Starring William Campbell, Patrick Magee, and Luana Anders, Dementia 13 is so much more than a Psycho wannabe, which is where its roots lay intertwined.  Roger Corman wanted Coppola to cash in on the crazy.  Coppola gave him that a whole lot more and Corman wasn't sure he could get asses in seats.  

This is a movie that oozes with atmosphere and confidence as it concerns itself with one rich mother’s will against the backdrop of frail sanity and ghost stories.  Louise wants in on the goods, but when an argument in a boat leads to her husband’s (played by Peter Reed) sudden death, she starts scheming quickly in order to secure her place in his rich mother’s will.  It is a beginning which hits hard as Louise makes her desires known, damn the consequences.

If the shocking and stark opening isn’t enough to get you hooked into the macabre horror on display, the next few minutes - as a body is dumped in the water, a statue is compared to the devil, and unhinged brothers are introduced (all before an annual graveyard ceremony) - certainly will.  Something is going on in this family.  

Louise, writing to her mother-in-law, Lady Haloran (Eithene Dunne), makes herself comfortable in her dead husband’s family home, a castle in Ireland.  She thinks this con job is going to be a breeze as she makes sure to get her spot in the will.  Just play ball with whatever they need.Dementia 13 - Director’s Cut: Vestron Video Collector’s Series

Unfortunately, she’s in for the shock of a lifetime.  There’s a wildness stalking the grounds and no one is safe once the axe is raised overhead.

When her husband’s brothers, Billy and Richard, don’t warm up to her presence at the castle, she begins to wonder just what is up with the family.  And what is it about the deceased sister, Kathleen, who died years earlier, that has everyone on edge?  Lady Haloran faints - just like she doesn every year - at her grave during the ceremony and, finding no other way to woo the family over, decides to play psychic to a very disturbed Lady Haloran. 

Produced by Roger Corman with money leftover from The Young Racers and sold with the idea of a naked woman swimming in a pond with a girl’s toys tethered together as she breaks the surface only face an axe murderer swinging at her face, Coppola’s film - when completed - was initially rushed off to be reshot and re-edited by Jack Hill.  It was a salvage job as Corman couldn’t get behind what Coppola had assembled, which - upon finishing this digitally restored print - seems unfathomable.  

Everything works to create something eerie, stark, and quite memorable.  The resulting opinion is that Coppola is on fire here and what flows through this absolutely BONKERS family provides audiences with a very unique film.  Consider the tone and the atmosphere as Louise discovers a perfectly preserved corpse at the bottom of the pond where Kathleen drowned!  And the strangeness yet to come is certainly on point.

Dementia 13 is now available on blu-ray thanks to the Vestron Video Collector’s Series.  With a 4K restoration overseen by Coppola himself, this is the version to be seen, studied, and appreciated.

4/5 beers

 

Dementia 13 - Director’s Cut: Vestron Video Collector’s Series

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Vestron Video
Available on Blu-ray
- September 21, 2021
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Rather than come clean about her husband's abrupt death, a gold digger (Luana Anders) heads to his Irish ancestral family castle to make sure that her spot in the will of his eccentric noblewoman mother (Eithne Dunne) is secure. As she becomes steeped in the strange obsessions of her dysfunctional in-laws, the homestead finds itself stalked by an ax-wielding killer. This is a moody early career effort from Francis Ford Coppola.

Video:

Presented in a full frame 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Vestron Video’s effort in presenting a 4K 1080p restoration is not wasted.  The depth is stunning.  They have done a good job in cleaning up the old film print and adding wonderful contrast and much-need depth to the black and white film. Film grain is intact and so are the thick, thick shadows.  The pond scene looks especially nice, and so too do all the swings of the axe.   The film looks better than ever.

Audio:

The gothic drippings delight in a solid DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Fans get a good feature length commentary from Francis Ford Coppola.

Special Features:

Included on the blu-ray disc are three short featurettes that contain some behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews and discussions pertaining to certain aspects of the film's making.

  • Hitting the Mark (04:34) - Wilson, Hathaway, and other cast and crew sit down to discuss the origins of the film and how they handled the gender switch.
  • Comedy Class (05:50) - Wilson, Hathaway, and others discuss the chemistry displayed between the two leads and what went into the development of the characters.
  • Con Artists (06:31) - The film's director, co-writers, and various cast and crew speak to what went into the film's costuming.

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars


Film Details

Dementia 13 - Director’s Cut: Vestron Video Collector’s Series

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
71 mins
Director
: Francis Ford Coppola
Writer:
Francis Ford Coppola
Cast:
William Campbell; Luana Anders; Bart Patton
Genre
: Horror | Thriller
Tagline:
Pretense is not acceptable at Haloran Castle!.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Mother, I don't care what tragedy hangs over this family. I want to get married. I'm engaged to be married. I'm going to get married."
Theatrical Distributor:
American International Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
1963
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 21, 2021.
Synopsis: A widow deceives her late husband's mother and brothers into thinking he's still alive when she attends the yearly memorial to his drowned sister, hoping to secure his inheritance. But her cunning is no match for the demented, axe-wielding thing roaming the grounds of the family's Irish estate in this cult favorite featuring Patrick Magee, Luana Anders, William Campbell, and Bart Patton.

Art

Dementia 13 - Director’s Cut: Vestron Video Collector’s Series

 

Movie Reviews

Our Tweets

 

You are here: Home Home Video BADass B-Movies Dementia 13 - Director’s Cut: Vestron Video Collector’s Series (1963)
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Letterboxd
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes