Dear Dead Delilah (1972)

dear dead delilah

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Greedy family gets hacked.

Delilah (Agnes Moorehead) is the matriarch of a large southern family who brings together the other members to tell them that her deceased husband’s gambling earnings of $600,000 is hidden somewhere on the premises. Desperate and greedy everyone goes on the hunt for it, but find they are being slaughtered one-by-one by an ax-wielding maniac.

As low budget horror movies go this one is about as poorly produced as you can get. This was John Farris’s first and so far last foray behind the camera. He is most famous for authoring ‘The Fury’, which was later made into a hit movie, but as a director he shows no visual ability. The scenes are poorly staged and the sets are illuminated by a bright unfiltered light that makes the center of every room in every scene look like it is under a spotlight. The scenes drone on with over-the-top characterizations of greedy family members and one-dimensional monotonous talk about money. The southern setting seems hooky almost like an amateurish attempt at Tennessee Williams. The scares and tension are non-existent and the film is an embarrassment to anyone having anything to do with it, which includes Bill Justis and his terrible music score.

It doesn’t help matters that the 1986 Embassy VHS issue of this film, which is as of this date the only source where this film can be seen, is terrible. The negative has a lot of scratches and the color is dark and faded making it look almost like someone’s forgotten home movie.

Moorehead, whose last film this was, is the one gem. She wears a brown wig and the only cast member who speaks in a Southern accent that sounds genuine. Her constant frowning facial expression is entertaining and helps enliven this otherwise poor excuse of a film with every scene that she is in.  She shares several scenes with Will Geer who plays her estate attorney. The two co-starred earlier that same year in an episode of ‘Bewitched’ where Geer played George Washington brought back to life by Esmerelda.

The film does boast some graphic murders that seem well ahead of its time in the grisly department. One of the best ones is when a female sitting in a wheelchair gets decapitated and the viewer sees her head lying on the ground next to her still quivering, blood spurting body. The opening sequence has a daughter speaking with her mother while the old lady has an ax sticking out of her head and her severed arm lying on the floor, which the daughter nonchalantly steps over like it is no big deal. The part near the end where a man gets shot through the back of his head and the bullet come out through his right eye socket is impressive as well.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: June 16, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated R

Director: John Farris

Studio: Southern Star Entertainment

Available: VHS

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