Dementia 13, 1963. 8/10

“If I die, there’s nothing in it for you!” Richard (William Campbell) tells his rather unloved wife Louise (Luana Anders). But die he does. Louise gratuitously implicates herself in his husband’s death. Why push him overboard if he’s already died? Nothing much more is heard of him; she gets away by merely letting on that he’s “away on business.”

Upon meeting up with his family at their cool Irish castle, she discovers that it’s haunted (and sporting, conveniently, a portrait of the deceased sister Kathleen). Thanks to some quick flashbacks we see that Billy Haloran (Bart Patton) has somewhat thoughtlessly tossed his younger sister in the pond seven years previous. Thanks to the matriarch Lady Haloran (Eithne Dunne), time has stopped for family relationships. Kind of throws some unlucky charms into the John Haloran (Peter Read) and Kane (Mary Mitchell) romance. The family busies itself with re-enactments of Kathleen’s funeral.

Not without cunning, Louise starts encouraging Lady H.’s hopes about the presence of Kathleen; that is, if she can drive the old lady nuts, she stands to gain financially, we suppose, assuming she can insinuate herself into the family a little further. Nothing like a visit to the dead child’s bedroom–with its creepily animated toys still at work.

Not to be outdone, the powers that be have arranged the actual Kathleen’s on the bottom of the pond when Louise ventures there to plant evidence of the girl’s presence. So much for Louise. Meanwhile, a local is poaching along, running afoul of the ax-murderer; happening upon Kathleen’s (?) corpse is a capital offense, it seems.

The macabre scenes keep frothing up. Lady H. opens Kathleen’s crypt/playhouse, and a doll stroller comes tootling right out. Inside: Kathleen (?) having a tea party. But that rather destructive ax-murderer spoils the fun. Draining the pond seems like a good idea: they find Kathleen’s ‘shrine’. They’re way behind the eight-ball, however, thinking, not only that Louise is still alive, but that she’s up to some pilfering of family heirlooms and such.

But it’s really the corpse (?) that’s getting around. Dr. Caleb (Patrick Magee) gets Billy into a fugue state, but what we see instead is the Robert and Kane wedding party. Caleb, kill-joy that he is tells Kane “I’m not sure where Richard is, or, indeed, what he is.” Well, finally locating Louise and Kathleen (?) gives him the idea to use the alleged Kathleen as bait, so to speak, to flush out the killer. Good idea, or, at least, it works.

Billy ends up where his drama began, in the pond’s muck. It’s not much of a surprise, as he’s clearly the nutty one, and not merely a terse, eccentric, anti-social type like his brother. I was actually hoping that Caleb would be the culprit–he sort of has the outsider’s envy gnawing away at him.

In many ways, I feel that Dementia 13 compares favorably with the somewhat similar Psycho. The plot in Dementia, although it’s got holes, is much more integrated than the somewhat disjointed situation in Psycho (the scenes before and after Novak’s encountering Anthony Perkins almost seem like two different movies). The opening sequence in Dementia is over with quickly, and almost everything else happens in and around the very spooky castle.

But the premise of a psychologically-damaged guy (Patton even sort of looks like Perkins) who will stop at nothing to keep things anchored in the past–to the extent of macabre rituals, not to mention murders–loosely link the two movies.

Dementia 13 is the sort of horror movie that would look black, white, and gray–even in color. Not to be missed for horror fans. 8/10.

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