EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|LEMORA: A CHILD'S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL (aka: LEMORA, LADY DRACULA) (director/writer: Richard Blackburn; screenwriter: Robert Fern; cinematographer: Robert Caramico; editor: Pieter S. Hubbard; music: Dan Neufeld; cast: Lesley Gilb (Lemora), Cheryl Smith (Lila Lee), William Whitton (Alvin Lee), Richard Blackburn (Reverend Mueller), Hy Pyke (The Bus Driver), Maxine Ballantyne (The Old Woman), Steve Johnson (The Ticket Seller), Parker West (The Young Man); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Robert Fern; Synapse Films; 1973)|
and intelligently accomplished work."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
UCLA grads Richard Blackburn
and Robert Fern team up to make their first and only film a special
one. Blackburn directs, cowrites and stars; his amigo Fern cowrites and
produces. The shoestring
budgeted horror pic is an unjustly ignored film that deserves some
nibbles from viewers who crave a Freudian-like sly look at so-called
childhood innocence being dissected and those willing to see a
compromised film that mixes art and exploitation to look at how
children view the supernatural. The bizarre ambitious dream odyssey
story line keeps things strangely ambiguous, as it plays up childhood
fears in a world of untrustworthy adults and like Laughton's Night of
the Hunter is a haunting and intelligently accomplished work. It's a
weird cult classic, banned for some twenty years by the Catholic Film
Board (like there's no dark side to their priesthood!), that adds its
hearty bloodied lyrical voice to the modern-day vampire flicks that
choose to see things from the child's POV.
A bank robber (William Whitton) kills his
unfaithful wife and her lover. He escapes the law, but is captured by a
mysterious cult group in a nearby abandoned town called Asteroth and is
turned into a grotesque-looking vampire by the cult group's matriarchal
leader, Lemora (Lesley Gilb, her only film role). The killer's estranged sweet
13-year-old daughter, Lila Lee (Cheryl 'Rainbeaux'
Smith), lives with the local Baptist reverend (Richard Blackburn), the lecherous hypocrite, in the
Depression-era South. The sermonizing about Good and Evil religious
leader becomes her guardian and promotes her in his church to counter
any malicious gossip about her being no good because she's the daughter
of a gangster and declares that she's an angel despite being raised by
a devil, and he takes pleasure to advertise in front of the church that
she sings so angel-like in the choir.
three years go by Lila receives a letter from Lemora, who calls herself a fellow Christian.
Lemora says her dad is dying and asked to see her so that she can
forgive him. Told not to tell anyone where she's going, the
good-hearted Lila sneaks out at night from the reverend's house and
embarks on a frightening bus ride to take an adventure on the dark
side. At the creepy mansion run by the black-clad Lemora, the girl
encounters the terrifying "woods people" and a group of lost crazed
orphan children raised by Lemora as the undead and a witch-like elderly
cackling servant (Maxine
Ballantyne). Seduced with baths
and drink by the motherly Lemora, who ironically is more a mother to
her than her real one, the innocent girl is lured into discovering her
great danger as she's trapped in the mansion by the crafty vampire,
Lila soon realizes she must escape Lemora's clutches or suffer the fate
of the undead.
a B-film with visuals not up to par with the slicker made modern genre
pics and not as luminously photographed as those classic German
Expressionist films like The
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (blame
it on the limited budget), but it has the intelligence of a Val Lewton
horror pic and it sets an eerie gothic atmosphere and not even a great early classic horror pic like
Dreyer’s “Vampyr” has more going for it on the psychological and sexual
REVIEWED ON 9/3/2010 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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