Dementia 13 (1963)

dementia 13 poster 1963 movie francis ford coppla
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

First Coppola

Story is all over the place and low budget

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Dementia 13

Studio:  American International Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense/B-Movies

Release Date(s):  September 25, 1963

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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Gross pond scum!!!

Louise Haloran (Luana Anders) wants her husband’s inheritance but unfortunately kills him when she pushes him to a heart attack…now, she must convince the family that he is still alive while driving his mother Lady Haloran (Eithne Dunne) to death.  Using the childhood death of one of her children named Kathleen, Louise has a plan…but plans have a way of changing when a serial killer is revealed to be stalking the family’s castle.

Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Dementia 13 (originally called The Haunted and the Hunted in the United Kingdom) is generally considered Coppola’s first real film.  The movie was originally simply titled Dementia, but a 1955 movie of that same title caused the “13” to be added (Coppola has said it was picked by producer Roger Corman in the hopes that it would play on the 13th of each month).  The movie was critically panned when it was originally released as part of a double bill with Corman’s X, The Man with X-Ray Eyes.  It is now in public domain and easily found online.

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Swimming with dolls at night…a recipe for death!

Dementia 13 is one of those movies that the description seems a lot better than the actual movie.  The picture was meant to be a Psycho rip off and was rushed into production (like many of Corman’s movies).  Despite all of this, it does have some moments.

The movie does follow Psycho’s format.  While it starts out appearing to be about Luana Anders’ character, she is quickly dispatched by the axe murderer, and it then becomes a mystery of who the axe murderer is, how Kathleen died, and solving the crime.  The movie has two different runtimes because Corman wanted the feature longer and an additional scene with a doctor testing the audience for the mental ability to handle the film’s violence was part of the trailer and sometimes added as added as a prologue (the D-13 test)…this scene isn’t always available on all versions.

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This doctor cures…with a gun!!!!

For what it is, the acting isn’t too bad for the film.  The script is pretty rough and the actors struggled more with this than the actual acting.  The movie’s biggest star is probably Patrick Magee (from stage and later Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon) who steps in as the doctor who helps wrap up the story and give it direction.

Dementia 13 also looks pretty good.  Corman notoriously gave his directors very little to work with budget wise and Coppola does make Dementia 13 atmospheric.  There are some nice underwater scenes in the lake and the murder of Louise is also pretty shocking.  The movie does show a lot of potential for what Coppola was capable of doing.

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Nice axe…can I have it?

With a whole bunch of additions, tweaks, and things like the prologue, Dementia 13 comes off as a mess.  Corman inserted himself in the movie and Coppola was forced to bow to him in changing the movie and making it more sensational, so I can’t blame Coppola for all the mistakes of Dementia 13.  If you are a Coppola fan, you should see it just to see where the director began.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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