Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973)

The low-budget horror flick Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural has a decent reputation, and it’s not hard to see why genre fans might find things in the picture to admire. The story, a dreamlike fable about a young girl (Cheryl Smith) who stumbles into the lair of a lesbian vampire/witch/whatever (Lesley Taplin) while looking for her father, is filled with potent psychosexual signifiers. With this much bubbling below the surface of the story, Lemora should go somewhere. And for some viewers, perhaps it does, but from my perspective, the picture takes so long to make its point—meandering through repetitive comin’-at-ya monster scares and trudging through long dialogue scenes performed weakly by an amateurish cast—that the journey isn’t worth the destination. Why doesn’t the young girl flee once she realizes she’s surrounded by weirdos? What does the monster woman want with her young guest? And why is the whole area surrounding the monster woman’s lair inhabited by lesser beasties? Don’t look for satisfying answers, since they aren’t forthcoming. It doesn’t help that most of the prints available on the marketplace have a grubby, public-domain quality to them, making the picture’s dark cinematography difficult to parse. Furthermore, there’s something half-hearted and pointless about a quasi-eroticized horror flick that’s rated PG: Although restraint is always commendable, particularly in a genre rife with bad taste, Lemora seems like it wants to bust out of its fairy-tale shell and get into really nasty areas, but the film never makes the leap into truly transgressive territory. Instead, the movie is overly tame, a problem exacerbated by slow pacing. One can’t help but admire what Lemora is trying to be, but director and co-writer Richard Blackburn simply doesn’t have the skill to realize those possibilities. Nice try.

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural: LAME

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