Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Frozen Alive is OK, but Dementia 13 is an underrated classic
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 12/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Francis Ford Coppola and Roger Corman are two names I would never have thought of putting together, but linked they are in the production of the highly enjoyable thriller Dementia 13. I was quite amazed to discover that Coppola got his start as an assistant to Corman, and this film, Coppola's directorial debut (the first he acknowledges, anyway), was actually filmed on the same set of the contemporary Corman production of The Terror. This really is Coppola's twenty thousand dollar baby, as he wrote as well as directed the film. I for one found it quite good. Although the killer is not that hard to identify, there were enough suspicions cast upon one or two other characters to keep me from putting all of my accusatory eggs in one basket before the climactic ending. There are also some twists and turns along the way that I didn't really see coming, and I was forced to change my whole outlook midway through the drama. Dementia 13 is not really scary or gruesome, but it does succeed in producing something akin to chills on one or two occasions. The murder weapon of choice is an axe, but the wielder of that axe is in no way very proficient; he can only succeed by hacking away maniacally until such time as he actually makes contact with the victim's body. He does have a natural talent for lifting a dead body by the hair and dragging it along behind him, though, which is always a plus on a mad killer's resume.
At the heart of this story is the tragic death of a little girl named Kathleen. Each year on the anniversary of her death, the grieving mother and her sons reenact the funeral service, which culminates in the mother's collapse. This particular year, two unwelcome guests reside in the family's ancient Irish castle, the greedy wife of the eldest son (who is unable to be there for reasons made quite obvious at the beginning of the movie) and the fiancé of another son. As individuals begin to mysteriously disappear from the castle grounds, almost everyone in the family becomes a potential suspect. The family doctor is yet another person to keep your eye on, as his behavior is questionable and suspicious at times. The deceased child Kathleen does haunt the family in a sense, and her appearance to an individual marks that person for certain axe-related death. I found this movie more and more compelling at it went along, and I quite enjoyed trying to figure out exactly who the killer actually was. The pace of the story was aided greatly by very effective background music, and Coppola definitely displayed the type of talent that would blossom into directorial greatness in his later career. If you enjoy a good who-dunnit movie, you will almost certainly get a big kick out of Dementia 13.
Frozen Alive isn't what I would call a riveting science fiction thriller. Sometimes it seems that the film itself is in suspended animation, as it takes forever to get to the real science fiction part of the whole story - namely, the freezing and unfreezing of a human being.
Dr. Frank Overton (Mark Stevens) and Dr. Helen Wieland (Marianne Koch) are pioneers in the art of cryogenic freezing. They've already managed to put monkeys in suspended animation and bring them back with no ill effects. The natural next step for them is the freezing of a human being - but, as you can imagine, not everyone is thrilled with that proposition, including the guy holding the money strings. Dr. Overton ultimately decides that the experiment must be done before the request is officially denied - and he offers up himself as the guinea pig. The backdrop to all of this is a sort of love triangle involving Helen, Frank, and Joan, Frank's complete lush of a wife. Actually, let's make it a square because Joan has something going on with another guy, too. Now, Frank and Helen are just colleagues (although Helen is a little sweet on the guy), but Joan is jealous. She gets drunk, gets her hands on a gun, and - well, she dies. It looks like murder, so the police are anxious to talk to her husband - but by then he's snoozing at about 80 degrees below freezing. There's a nice little moral dilemma for Helen at the very end, which makes the ending a little more interesting than I expected. Notice I said interesting, not exciting or particularly entertaining.
The main problem with this science fiction film is the fact that it really doesn't look or feel like a science fiction film until the very end. There's just way too much of Joan's philandering and drunken antics and not enough of machines that go ping."