Director – Richard LeMay, Screenplay – Dan De Filippo & Justin Smith, Based on the 1963 Film Written by Francis Ford Coppola, Producer – Dan De Filippo, Photography – Paul Niccolls, Music – Adonis Tsilimparis, Visual Effects Supervisor – Wayne Harrison Jr., Visual Effects – Black Special Effects (Supervisor – Mr. Dead), Production Design – John El Manahi. Production Company – Pipeline Entertainment
Channing Pickett (Rose Haloran), Julia Campanelli (Gloria Haloran), Steve Polites (Dale), Ana Isabelle (Louise), Marianne Noscheze (Billy Haloran), Ben Van Barkum (Kane), Christian Ryan (John Haloran), Roland Sands (Arthur), Donal Brophy (Ray), Leif Stenert (Wood), Jay William Thomas (Perry)
John Haloran has arrived at the Haloran family castle with his newlywed wife Louise. Upset at the way he beats her, she follows John out onto the lake, shoots him and then throws the body overboard. As the rest of the Haloran family arrive for memorial celebration of the death of the daughter Kathleen, Louise maintains the pretence that John is still alive. The matriarch Gloria talks to the spirit of Kathleen as though she is still there. At the same time, a black hooded figure is stalking the castle, killing members of the family with an axe. Spooky phenomena begin to happen, which may be the ghost of Kathleen. At the same time, three thugs invade the home, imprisoning the family, determined to force them to hand over their inheritance.
Dementia 13 (1963) was the second-ever film from the young then unknown Francis Ford Coppola made for B-movie legend Roger Corman. The film has become over-acclaimed in subsequent years when in fact it is no more than an average psycho-thriller of the era that was being made in the wake of Psycho (1960) and shot on the cheap. It has moments of style that sit it above many of its contemporaries but in truth if it did not have the Coppola name on it it likely would not be remembered today.
The original film exists in the public domain and has been remade here. The plot generally stays close to the original involving the family gathering at the ancestral home to mourn the dead sister Kathleen, the hooded figure eliminating family members and the opening where the husband is killed on the lake and the body thrown into the water. What this version doesn’t have is the family castle located in Ireland, which here becomes a castle somewhat improbably located in rural America (which just looks like an ordinary large estate). Added to the mix are appearances of the ghostly Kathleen (whereas the original was a strictly mundane psycho-thriller) and a plot in the latter half where the family are subject to a home invasion.
Newcomer director Richard LeMay lacks any of the style that Francis Ford Coppola demonstrated in the original. Certainly, the opening scenes do a beautiful job of photographing the country estate and offers some promise. However, LeMay’s lack of overall competence is no more evident than during the next scene where he flubs the original’s most memorable set-piece – the scene of the wife murdering her husband on the lake and the body and still-blaring radio sinking down into the water. The addition of the various ghostly hauntings come out as singularly tepid and uninteresting, while the home invasion element could easily have been written out for all that it fails to elevate the tension level of the film anywhat.