Dementia 13: Director’s Cut (Vestron Video Collector’s Series) – Blu-ray Review

Dementia 13

It’s always curious to see the first films from legendary directors. Some are great (THX-1138), while some are not so great. Unfortunately for Coppola fans, Dementia 13 falls under the latter. It’s not entirely his fault, though. Coppola, a young budding director and working under Roger Corman, was looking for a chance to get his big break. Coppola pitched this Psycho ripoff idea to Corman, and he greenlit the project. However, the production of the film moved at a rapid pace. Coppola didn’t even finish the script by the time he landed in Ireland. Coppola’s friend Al Locatelli (the film’s art director) helped Coppola write the final screenplay in three days. The speedy script resulted in unrealistic, “stilted” dialogue. All of that is evident in the movie, as the entire film felt uneven.

Nevertheless, there’s a definite look and aesthetic that is downright sinister. Coppola’s use of darkness (a tactic he used to hide the low-budget look of the movie) is effective as a visual tool for a horror movie. Also, Coppola owes a lot to Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho. Not only is Dementia 13 ripping off Psycho, but Coppola closely follows the “Hitchcock rule” as well. He closes in tightly on his subjects constantly, which occurs in Psycho often. At the same time, you can see the influence Dementia 13 has on The Godfather. The genres couldn’t be any more different, but Coppola follows similar themes, specifically the family drama and the power struggle between the family.

While Dementia 13 is not Francis Ford Coppola’s best, he, at least, got a chance to show the world what he really could do. However, he wasn’t able to showcase his full filmmaking skills due to the overbearing Roger Corman. The film, nevertheless, remains a fascinating part of his filmography. Thankfully, he got away from Corman and later made such masterpieces as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now

Movie Rating: 3/5 atoms

Dementia 13 - William Campbell

Video

Dementia 13 hits Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-AVC with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Darkness is a major aspect of the film. Thus, the blacks are inky. Not to mention, the whites are cleaner and brighter. When it comes to the grays, they seem a tad more varied, heightening depth, dimension, and textures in the process. The picture is stunning for its age. Since Dementia 13 takes a lot of inspiration from Hitchcock, the movie is packed with extreme close-ups, and they are remarkably displayed here. Individual pores, hair follicles, various skin textures, and facial blemishes are all sharp. There are bits of dust and scratches found in the picture, but they’re few and far between. The same can be applied to the flickering film as well. Despite all that, this is probably the best that Dementia 13 has ever looked.

Video Rating: 4/5 atoms

Dementia 13 - Luana Anders

Audio

Dementia 13 hits Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and the original Mono DTS-HD Master Audio track. This review will reflect Dementia 13‘s 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Although it’s being listed as a 5.1 mix, it really sounds like a 3.1 audio mix since most of the action occurs in the front three channels. For the most part, the rear channels mostly accentuate Ronald Stein’s score and not much else. The dialogue sounds a bit lo-fi, but it still sounds clear and audible throughout. Either way, you’re better off listening to the mono mix of the film.

Audio Rating: 2/5 atoms

Dementia 13 - Mary Mitchel

Special Features

Dementia 13‘s Blu-ray disc has the following special features on Blu-ray disc:

  • Introduction by Francis Ford Coppola
  • Audio Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola
  • Prologue (Dementia 13 Test)

The Introduction by Coppola gives viewers a minor glimpse into the history of the movie and why he wanted to do a director’s cut of the film. The Introduction by Coppola gives viewers a minor glimpse into the history of the movie and why he wanted to do a director’s cut of the movie. The audio commentary is a bit of an intriguing feature. It feels more like a retrospective about the production of the film than anything else. Some you may know and some that you might not have known. Closer to the midway point of the movie, there were times where Coppola would be completely silent. Either way, you’ll get into the mindset of Coppola’s thinking when you listen to his commentary. It’s not the most insightful piece of commentary, but it is informational.

The prologue has quite an interesting backstory. Since producer Roger Corman thought the film was too short, he hired director Monte Hellman to direct a corny William Castle-style gimmick to add to the film. In the prologue, a “psychiatrist” (clearly reading off of cue cards) gives audiences a test to see if they are mentally fit to see Dementia 13. This prologue gave Corman the padding he wanted for the film. Of course, since this is the director’s cut, the prologue was cut from the film. However, you can watch it in all of its gimmicky glory here.

Special Features Rating: 2.5/5 atoms


Overall, Dementia 13 feels like a Psycho remake done by Francis Ford Coppola. The story beats and characters all feel familiar to Hitchcock’s classic. Nevertheless, fans of the cult classic will love the remaster that Coppola put together for this film. The picture looks great, but the audio mix is very front-loaded. The bonus features are all quality features, but the release could’ve added more than the audio commentary or the prologue. 

Overall Rating: 3/5 atoms

Dementia 13: Director’s Cut hits stores on September 21st.

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1714 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.

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