• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Dementia 13

TITLE: Dementia 13

YEAR: 1963

GENRE: Horror and Drama

According to legend, the great Roger Corman was in a quandary in 1962: he had two films that needed his attention at the same time on different continents. One was his adaptation of the Edgar Allen Poe classic story “The Raven” which had legends Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, and Hazel Court signed on as leads, and the other was a low budget independent horror rip-off of Psycho which would be filmed in the same locale as his previous film The Young Racers. Corman resolved the problem by giving the writer of the horror concept (and one of Corman’s trusted sound engineers) a budget of $22,000, one experienced assistant director, and a handful of actors from his last production to allow the young upstart to create his own production. That production turned into Dementia 13, which ended up being one of the most creative and well made fright fests of the 1960’s.

Louise Halloran (played by Luana Anders) is a money-grubbing witch on wheels that sees her fortune fleeting away when her sick husband John (Peter Read) dies from a massive coronary. Grieving over the lost money, Louise does what any inheritance loving widow would do: dispose of her husband’s body and make it appear as if he is on a business trip in Europe. Louise makes a trip to Europe to the Halloran castle to collect her share of a recent inheritance. While there she discovers the unfortunate death of one of the Halloran family—a sister who drowned seven years previous—and has to involve herself in a bizarre ritual that the family holds annually in her honor. Nobody discusses the sister’s untimely demise including the family doctor Justin Caleb (Patrick Magee). When a mysterious killer arrives swinging some big gardening tools the family is finally forced to face their sins of the past.

This film was definitely inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, but Dementia 13 has its own unique touch and quality works to allow it to stand proud on its own. The opening scene of Louise disposing of her husband’s body is especially stylish when the radio playing terrible jazz music floats down onto John’s bug-eyed body. The underwater photography in certain scenes is especially crisp, and there are numerous camera angles below and above the surface throughout to add to the suspense level. The combination of the quality acting and camera work adds to the anticipation which makes the subsequent kills more entertaining and genuinely scary. The murders are especially graphic considering the time frame and a couple are fairly bloody in nature. The deceased sister’s room is beyond creepy with some weird toys including a butcher using a cleaver on a chopping block. Magee is especially good as the creepy doctor, and the rest of the thespians do an acceptable job considering this film was shot in less than a week. The final identity of the killer was also fairly unexpected and Dementia 13 could be considered to have a quality twist ending.

The two people left in control of Dementia 13 tuned out to be a couple of the most influential directors of the 1970’s: the assistant director was Jack Hill, which later became instrumental in the blaxploitation films of the era including Coffy and Foxy Brown as well as the horror classic Spider Baby; and the director/writer was Francis Ford Coppola who ten years later graced the world with The Godfather and later its sequels. Dementia 13 is the perfect example on how a small budget film can rise above its limitations and still create a quality end product through the power of a superior script and inventive cinematography. If you decide to go out and actually buy Dementia 13 make sure to know which print you are receiving as this film is in the public domain and the versions vary wildly in quality. No matter what, make sure to rent Dementia 13 as it is a worthy example of 1960’s horror that still stands up today.

* * * 1/2

–Mark

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