The opening credits flash as drums beat, voices shriek, two dozen Haitian men and women dig a grave in the middle of the road. The working bodies collectively part as a carriage carrying two Americans, Neil Parker (John Harron) and his fiancé Madeleine Short (Madge Bellamy), meanders down the unpaved rode. Startled and confused, the two recent expatriates seek an explanation from their driver. He informs them that they have just driven through a funeral, explaining that gravediggers chose the middle of the busy road as the final resting place for the body so no one would dig up the body to perform voodoo rituals upon it. A pair of piercing eyes, belonging to the one and only Bela Lugosi, flash on the screen. Victor Halperin’s White Zombie has begun.
Dementia 13 is Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature film, made for the great Roger Corman a full ten years before The Godfather. His talent is evident right away with a very moody opening scene involving a woman and her husband arguing in a rowboat at night. When the man has a heart attack, the woman dumps the body into the water, along with his transistor radio — which continues to play as it sinks to the bottom. This leads to an excellent animated credit sequence. Continue reading Review: Dementia 13