Dementia 13 (1963)

“The Most Terrifying Screen Experience of Your Life! A Brand New Concept in Motion Picture Shock!” A low-budget, atmospheric horror film produced by Roger Corman and released by American International Pictures, Dementia 13 served as Francis Ford Coppola’s mainstream directorial debut (he had directed two nudie films, The Bellboy and the Playgirls and Tonight for Sure, in 1962). In addition to assuming directorial duties, Coppola wrote the script for Dementia 13. Filmed in Ireland in nine days on a budget of approximately $40,000, Dementia 13 starred William Campbell, Luana Anders and Patrick Magee. Corman instructed Coppola to make a cheap imitation of Psycho, complete with gothic atmosphere and an axe-wielding maniac. According to Coppola, “Roger wanted to make Dementia 13 cheaply. He wanted it to be homicidal, sort of a copy of Psycho. You know, gothic and psychological, with some kind of terrible knife killing scene thrown in. So I wrote the script to order.” Reviews for Dementia 13 were somewhat mixed; however critics like Danny Peary of the Guide for the Film Fanatic pointed out positive aspects amid the somewhat bewildering storyline: “I find this film hopelessly confusing . . . However, I think the horror sequences are very exciting. The nocturnal scene in which Anders strips to her bra and panties and swims in the lake, only to find a body below and the axe murderer waiting for her above, is extremely well done.” In the “University” episode of The Sopranos (2001), Meadow and Noah can be seen watching Dementia 13.

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