BY BENOIT BLACK
Starring Julia Campanelli, Channing Pickett and Steve Polites
Directed by Richard LeMay
Written by Dan DeFilippo and Justin Smith
With every horror title in existence seemingly up for grabs to be remade, it’s no surprise that someone set their sights on this relatively obscure number, which has the distinction of being Francis Ford Coppola’s first horror movie. Said source material, originally released in 1963 and co-written by the director and Jack (Spider Baby) Hill, does not really evoke the grandeur of Apocalypse Now or Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but Dementia 13 survives as a tense little shocker for its day, in the mold of Les Diaboliques and, to a lesser extent, Psycho, released just two years prior.
The movie, like its remake, starts off with an untimely death on a rowboat, but whereas the original movie poses this as an accident, the remake spills the beans right off and takes the opportunity to deliver some early onscreen violence. Turns out the late John Haloran’s girlfriend Louise is after her part of the family fortune, only this family has a few secrets, not the least which is a secret murder of their own. When a masked axe wielder shows up to take down cast members one by one, it’s anyone’s guess who the real target might be and what the motivation.
Remake director Richard LaMay does an admirable job of setting the film in a remote, gothic mansion which he lovingly caresses with a camera mounted on a drone. He also manages a small but effective nod to Coppola’s Dracula via a shadow hand that reaches for the heroine from the side of the frame. Still, all the great visuals in the world aren’t going to save a movie marred by terrible acting. Julia Campanelli does an admirable job of chewing scenery as the Holoran matriarch Gloria, but the rest of the cast phones in some pretty tepid reactions to the homicidal goings on. The result? Only those who suffer from dementia will believe a single frame of this lifeless whodunit.
DEMENTIA 13 is released on Friday Oct 6 and on VOD on Oct 10.