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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Steve's Church-less Movie Of The Week ...

Yoinked from wikipedia and ...

"Dementia 13 is a 1963 horror thriller released by American International Pictures, starring William Campbell, Patrick Magee, and Luana Anders. The film was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Roger Corman. Although Coppola had been involved in at least two nudie films previously, Dementia 13 served as his first mainstream 'legitimate' directorial effort.

The plot follows a scheming young woman who, after having inadvertently caused the heart attack death of her husband, attempts to have herself written into her rich mother-in-law's will. She pays a surprise visit to her late husband's family castle in Ireland, but her plans become permanently interrupted by an axe-wielding lunatic who begins to stalk and murderously hack away at members of the family.

Although he was given total directorial freedom during production, Coppola found himself fighting with Corman after the film was completed when the producer declared the movie unreleasable and demanded several changes be made.

American International Pictures, the legendary exploitation studio run by Roger Corman, is famous not just for the speed of its productions (Little Shop of Horrors was wrapped after two days and one night of shooting), or its casts of aging stars and up-and-comers equally desperate for work (The Terror paired Jack Nicholson and Boris Karloff), but for the directors who yelled 'Cut!' for the first time while working inside Corman's speed machine. Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante and John Sayles are just a few of the future auteurs who got their start slaving for Corman; Dementia 13 was Francis Ford Coppola's turn.

Corman offered Coppola the chance to direct a low-budget horror movie in Ireland with funds left over from Corman's recently completed The Young Racers, on which Coppola had worked as a sound technician. The producer wanted a cheap Psycho-copy, complete with gothic atmosphere and brutal killings, and Coppola quickly wrote a screenplay in accordance with Corman's requirements. The majority of the American actors in the cast were friends of Coppola’s from UCLA, and many of them paid their own way to Ireland for the opportunity to appear in a film. Most of the Irish cast members were from the Abbey Theatre and were paid strictly minimum wage salaries. Eithne Dunne received approximately $600 for her performance. Cast and crew lived together in a farm house located outside of Dublin.

At the risk of sounding overly-dismissive, this is not a film that stands up well next to The Godfather -- or even Jack. Despite promising Corman that his movie would make audiences 'sick,' Coppola turned in a Gothic black-and-white flick that is heavy on mood and light on blood, a fact that Corman addressed by hiring Jack Hill (Spider Baby) to shoot the movie's most grisly scene, the decapitation.

The speed in which the screenplay was completed resulted in unrealistic, “stilted” dialogue that Campbell recalled as being very difficult for the actors to speak. If you think that the story of the script being written in two days is an exaggeration, a quick listen to the dialogue will disabuse you of that notion. In fact, you might wonder if it's possible to write lines this wooden and unnatural in two lifetimes, let alone two days.

Corman also complained the film was too short, and insisted that it be padded by at least five minutes. Gary Kurtz, one of Corman's assistants at the time, recalled, 'So we shot this stupid prologue that had nothing to do with the rest of the movie. It was some guy who was supposed to be a psychiatrist, sitting in his office and giving the audience a test to see if they were mentally fit to see the picture. The movie was actually released with that prologue.' This cheap William Castle-style gimmick also included a 'D-13 Test' handout given to theater patrons that was ostensibly devised by a 'medical expert' to weed out psychologically unfit people from viewing the film.

However, the filmed five-minute prologue featuring the test has not been included on any of the numerous available home video versions of the title. While the laserdisc version is still around, rumor has it that the actual print of the movie has disappeared. Since that, the inability by Corman and others to locate the original print and the closing of the American International Studios (the original distributors), the movie is in the public domain in the United States.

Dementia 13 was ultimately released in 1963 at the bottom of a double-bill with Corman's X: The Man with the X-Ray Eye. Because of its rushed production and a somewhat incomprehensible screenplay, reviews of Dementia 13 have been mixed.

This stylish, stiff Psycho rip-off is typical of the debut work that the other great directors did for Roger Corman. Hampered by tight budgets, short shooting schedules and Corman's demands that they deliver the goods to audiences hungry for blood and boobs, these movies feel far more like Roger Corman films than anyone else's. But if you look between the cracks, you'll see in Dementia 13 -- as well as in the works of every other debut director in Corman's stable -- very small signs of the genius that was to come."

Steve's Snacks Of The Week:






My Wife's Ample Tits

... and now ONCE AGAIN Steve and this blog are both PROUD to present today's Church-less Movie of the Week in its entirety absolutely FREE!

A few ground rules first, though. There's absolutely no talking in Steve's Theater and all talkers will be fisted mercilessly. No cell phones or African-American berries in the theater. And please dispose of trash in its proper receptacle.

And be sure to dim your headlights (where applicable).

Enjoy the show, y'all!

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