Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: William Campbell, Luana Anders, Bart Patton, Mary Mitchel, Patrick Magee, Eithne Dunne, Peter Read, Karl Schanzer, Ron Perry, Derry O'Donavan, Barbara Dowling
Written by: Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Hill
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 75
Date: 09/25/1963
IMDB

Dementia 13 (1963)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Castle Hassle

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After making a couple of nudies, and doing some patch-up work for Roger Corman, Francis Ford Coppola made his feature directing debut with this low-budget horror film. It was intended as kind of ripoff of Psycho, but it has its own merits.

When her husband drowns in a lake, Louise (Luana Anders) realizes that she won't get his family's inheritance unless she does something about it, so she forges a note, pretends that he has been called away on business, and tries to set the situation right. Unfortunately, John's sister Kathleen also drowned several years earlier, and it's time for the family's annual ritual, a tribute to her death. This brings up several ghosts for everyone, as well as an axe-wielding maniac.

Like his later Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), it's an intriguing example of style over substance. Set in an honest-to-goodness Irish castle, Coppola makes the most of the moody grounds and ancient walls, even despite his tiny budget and shooting schedule.

HD Cinema Classics has released a public domain Blu-Ray edition, which claims to have been transferred from 35mm elements. It looks pretty good, but not great; at least it's matted in widescreen for the first time. It comes with a trailer.

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