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.