seen online via YouTube
LAMBs in the Director's Chair is an ongoing event in which LAMB bloggers discuss the work and career of a given director. The current subject is Francis Ford Coppola. The complete list of posts for this event will go up January 11-13 at the LAMB site.
So I watched Dementia 13 trying to see if I could detect any signs of the greatness to come from director Francis Ford Coppola. As first features go, it's not all that memorable. Compared to the first films of Coppola's peers, it's dramatically different. I mean, if you look at Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets, Steven Spielberg's Duel, and George Lucas' THX 1138, you can see pretty clearly the paths they were headed down. Nothing in Dementia 13 made me think, oh, yeah, this is the same guy who would go on to direct the Godfather trilogy.
The film is a murder mystery, produced by Roger Corman (it's amazing how many successful careers he helped launch), but it's not that hard to figure out who the killer is, and the most interesting character (in my opinion) gets killed halfway into the story. The killer uses an axe, but when the scene depicted in the poster takes place, the editing makes it difficult to see where the girl is getting chopped up, or even if she's getting chopped up. It doesn't seem like discretionary violence, either; a later scene shows someone's head getting chopped off, so Coppola isn't shying away from gore.
Like I said, this film isn't all that memorable. It's not until Coppola's next feature, You're A Big Boy Now, that we start to notice indications of a future master at work. Still, I'd never seen Dementia 13 before, and wanted to give it a look.
I've always liked Coppola. Besides Dementia 13, I've seen the first two Godfather films, You're A Big Boy Now, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, The Outsiders, The Cotton Club, Peggy Sue Got Married, Captain EO (What? It counts, too), Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Jack. I remember reading a rumor awhile ago that there was talk of a fourth Godfather movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, and while that does sound more than a little intriguing, I doubt that's gonna happen. His recent stuff hasn't exactly found a wide audience - he seems to have gone the indie route - but it would be wonderful if he directed one more big hit film.