Dear Dead Delilah - Dear Dead Delilah(Blu Ray/ DVD) [Vinegar Syndrome - 2018]Dear Dead Delilah was US horror writer John Farris one & only foray into directing. The 1972 film is an often overtly talky southern fried murder mystery, with elements of proto-slasher & old hag horror. From Vinegar Syndrome here we have a recent duel Blu Ray & DVD issue of the film.
The film's plot tells of the Charles family- a dysfunctional once rich southern brood- who are controlled by wheelchair-bound matriarch Delilah(Agnes Moorehead), who was given control to their dwindled country estate by her dead father. Delilah announcers to her two brothers & two sisters, that she will give all the remaining money & property to the state when she dies, which she claims will be any day- so fairly soon we get a lot of family arguing & soapy banter, interlaced with the occasion axe bound murder. Into this situation comes middle-aged Luddy(Patricia Carmichael) a Tubby, pale & rather simple looking women, who has just been released from a 20-year sentence for killing her mother, with you guessed it an Axe. So who is killing off the family one-by-one- is it the seemingly slow Luddy, one of the family, or is it the vengeful ghost of the family’s father?.
The films a decidedly uneven affair- it starts off in a fairly intriguing & unsettling manner, as we get a flashback to when the young Luddy killed her mother- we see the clearly deranged young women walking past her mothers hacked off arm, before chatting to her dead mom in the kitchen. Then we fast forward twenty years to Luddy getting out of the correctional facility - she gets on a bus, and this great & buoyant bluegrass tune with female la-las kicks in as the credits roll, which feature Luddy’s drawings of her dismembered mother. As the credits end, she gets off the bus, walks into a park & starts drawing- this time it's a series of sketches of a football match taking place in front of her, with a few of the participants heads chopped off. Fairly soon she gets knocked over, and we meet the youngest son of the Charles family- who promptly takes Luddy back to the families estate. From here we slip into often very over-long & not very interesting dialogue-based scenes, soapy bitch-ness, and a very light peppering of gory murder, which does increase towards the end of the film. The creepy Luddy isn’t really developed enough; we get no more of the bluegrass music, and worse of all it often slips into almost soapy TV movie bland-ness. It’s such a pity the script couldn’t have been tighter-up, as there are some fairly impressive proto- slasher killings here with limbs & heads hacked off, and a shotgun to the face killing.
As we’ve come to expect from Vinegar Syndrome the new 2k scan of the film, is vibrate & crisp- nicely enhancing both the spurting reds & 1970’s colour pallet. Extras wise we get a twenty-minute interview with Farris- this finds him discussing the films shooting near Nashville, the cast, etc- this has some interesting enough titbits of info, though Farris is not the most animated of subjects. Other than this we get a promotional still & article gallery, as well as a reversible sleeve.
In conclusion, I think if you go into this expecting mostly a talky 70’s murder mystery, with fleeting elements of slasher & horror elements- then you may get something from Dear Dead Delilah- but personally, I found it a little to tame, with not enough sleaze or oddness in place.Roger Batty