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Dementia 13 [Blu-ray]
(Francis Ford Coppola, 1963)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: American International Pictures (AIP)
Video: HD Cinema Classics
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 18,518,870,625 bytes
Feature Size: 17,633,212,416 bytes
Video Bitrate: 29.25 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 26th, 2011
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
• Trailer (1:52)
•Restoration Demo (1:06)
2nd disc - DVD of the film
Postcard/poster of the film
Description: Future film-making legend Francis Ford Coppola makes his big-screen directorial debut with this cult horror classic, available for the first time in spectacular High-Definition Blu-Ray. Following the abrupt death of her husband from a heart attack, the scheming Louise Haloran (Luanda Anders) travels to her in-laws estate in Ireland, only to find herself trapped in a creepy, decrepit castle with her ex-husband s demented family. Upon arrival, she is introduced to a pair of maladjusted brothers (William Campbell, Bart Patton) and a distraught mother-in-law (Eithne Dunn), still grieving for the daughter she lost in a drowning accident many years earlier. When a mysterious axe-wielding psychopath enters the fray, leaving blood-spattered corpses in his wake, the family s doctor (Patrick Magee) takes it upon himself to try to get to the bottom of things--before it s too late! The making of Dementia 13, meanwhile, is a tale unto itself. An aspiring film-maker fresh out of UCLA, Coppola found work under the tutelage of B-movie legend Roger Corman, doing sound, editing and various other tasks. After finishing a film called The Young Racers under budget, Corman opted to use the leftover funds to finance a low-budget thriller to cash in on the success of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Coppola quickly delivered a script to Corman s liking, promising plenty of nudity and gore. Corman gave him the green light. Despite the meager budget, Coppola made the most of his resources, re-purposing both sets and actors from The Young Racers, while employing the sort of creative lighting, camera angles, and storytelling that reveals an early glimpse at the great filmmaking that would follow with such titles as Apocalypse Now and The Godfather trilogy.
Francis Ford Coppola was still a graduate student at UCLA film school when he was hired by low-budget producer and director Roger Corman to write a new story and dialogue around a Russian science-fiction movie Corman had acquired, Nebo Zowet (1959). Coppola worked for six months on the script for Battle Beyond the Sun (1963) and received $250 for the job. Corman continued to call on Coppola for assistant assignments, and when he asked if the student was adept at recording sound, Coppola exaggerated his abilities and became the recording engineer for Corman's The Young Racers (1963). The film was shot in Liverpool, England and starred William Campbell and Luana Anders. Whenever Corman had access to elaborate settings or a particular cast (and especially if he had paid for travel expenses), he was fond of squeezing an entire extra feature film out of the experience. In a trip to Puerto Rico to shoot Battle of Blood Island (1960) and The Last Woman on Earth (1960), for example, Corman and his troupe practically improvised a third film while on location, Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961). When Corman saw that he had twenty thousand dollars left from his budget for The Young Racers, he told Coppola that if he could come up with an idea for a film that could be shot quickly in Ireland, he could direct it.Excerpt from TMN located HERE
A young Francis Coppola was given the job of directing this moody low-budget chiller after begging producer Roger Corman... for the opportunity to reuse the sets for another film which Corman was shooting in Ireland. The story centers on the dysfunctional Haloran family, who live in a state of perpetual sorrow in a spooky Irish castle. Still mourning the death of her young daughter Kathleen -- who drowned in the lake seven years ago -- Lady Haloran (Ethne Dunn) tortures herself regularly by visiting the girl's grave (when she's not shrieking and collapsing in anguish every five minutes). When daughter-in-law Louise Haloran (Luana Anders) loses her husband to a heart attack, she manages to conceal the body for fear of being cut out of Lady Haloran's will. To further complicate matters, a mysterious interloper begins prowling the grounds with an axe to grind... a very big axe. This enjoyable, quirky psycho-thriller is enlivened by Coppola's inventive camera setups, atmospheric locations and Patrick Magee's over-the-top performance as the leering family doctor. Despite some ragged editing (probably not Coppola's doing), this has relatively high production values for a spare-change Corman project.Excerpt from Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Once again HD Cinema Classics looks to have taken out all the grain from the image as they did with the Blu-rays of The Stranger, Kansas City Confidential and The Terror. It's not so much that the plasticized, waxy, soft 1.78:1 visuals look bad (they are very clean and smooth) - they just look more like video than film. Actually this may have less of the DNR-look than some of their other efforts. There is occasional contrast boosting but you can easily expect that this digital process implemented, in 1080P, improves upon all the SD DVD editions (this is a public domain film). The image is somewhat inconsistent with the beginning being quite poor and it starts improving though beyond the credits. The Blu-ray captures can speak for themselves. Perhaps I am being too picky - it gave me a decent presentation if I stopped seeking flaws at every scene change. Even the best print of Dementia 13 can't be in pristine condition. This is single-layered but the shortish film has a high bitrate and without looking a gift-horse in the mouth - this is as good as it is likely to get for this Coppola/Corman creation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
HD Cinema Classics are going to have to get into lossless audio if they are going to continue - we get the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 bump and a flatter, but perhaps more true, 2.0 channel stereo track. Both are pretty weak with no substance - and tinny, echo'ed dialogue. There are only optional Spanish subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Extras : A split-screen restoration demo that doesn't impress with its comparative quality and a trailer are all we get - but to be fair the price doesn't reflect a bevy of supplements. This bare-bones status has been a standard so far for HD Cinema Classics' adventures into the new format. There is a second disc DVD of the feature and a postcard of a poster of the film. How about a commentary? with the director? Wouldn't that be cool?
May 3rd, 2011
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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