Pulpmovies Cult Film Reviews
Francis Ford Coppolas first film and a little gem. This film was backed and produced by Roger Corman following Coppolas work for him as soundman on Young Racers.
The plot centres around the Halorans, a noble Irish family complete with a large and spooky castle, all of whom speak with American accents (which in some ways is a lot better than the mangled dialects we often have to put up with) who, every year, re-enact the funeral ceremony of Kathleen, the daughter and youngest member of the family who drowned seven years previously. The main players are the mother, three brothers and Louise (Luana Anders) the American wife of John (Peter Read), the oldest of the brothers.
Immediately after explaining to Louise that she cant inherit anything if he dies from his dodgy heart, John immediately has a heart attack and dies. Louise, being the loving and concerned wife she is, promptly disposes of the body and forges a letter to Johns mother explaining that he has been called away to New York and will miss have to miss the ceremony. Louise then sets about trying to get into the good books of Johns mother, Lady Haloran (Ethne Dunne), in order to convince her to change her will to give Louise a cut.
For some, slightly bizarre reason, Louise seems to think that the best way to do this is to convince Lady Haloran that the ghost of Kathleen is knocking around in the Halorans castle and wants to get in touch with the Mother. Unfortunately, someone, somewhere (okay, it isnt that hard to figure out) is a bit unstable and Louises meddling with Kathleens provokes the wrath of a mad-axeman. And the cast is reduced by one American
So the plot is pretty simple, full of holes and the dialogue is, in some places, truly awful and the film as a whole is a none too original homage to Psycho.
On the other hand, the film moves along a pretty good pace and has plenty of atmosphere - underscored by a tense and effective soundtrack and enhanced by the black and white photography. The acting, while disjointed at times, is generally pretty good - with special credit here going to Patrick Magee as one of the most bizarre doctors to grace celluloid, certainly the creepiest. The shocks are effective and, for their time, pretty gruesome.
If nothing else, the atmosphere of Dementia 13 make it a great late night movie.