Dementia 13: Coppola’s First Full-Length Feature

Would the 1963 hor­ror film Demen­tia 13 be remem­bered today with­out the sub­se­quent achieve­ments of its young direc­tor, Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la? It’s hard to say. Con­tem­po­raries seem to have thought oth­er­wise: The New York Times review­er described the film’s direc­tion as “stol­id” and its cast as “unlucky,” and the pro­duc­er, B‑Movie king Roger Cor­man, furi­ous­ly took the reins from his pro­tege the minute he saw the first cut.

But Demen­tia 13 was still the first full-length fea­ture of a man who would go on to direct three of the great­est films ever made, and so it’s tempt­ing (and fun) to scour Demen­tia 13 for ear­ly man­i­fes­ta­tions of genius. Watch it and judge for your­self — and look out for the dolls.

Cop­po­la’s film appears in the Noir, Thriller and Hor­ror sec­tion of our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online, along with oth­er Roger Cor­man movies. The Inter­net Archive hosts an alter­nate ver­sion of the film as well.

Sheer­ly Avni is a San Fran­cis­co-based arts and cul­ture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Week­ly, Moth­er Jones, and many oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low her on twit­ter at @sheerly.

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