Challenge Week 23: Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural

The whole time I was watching this, I couldn’t help comparing it in my head to Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, another film about a young innocent running into a bunch of alternately alluring and frightening vampires – both films are kind of dreamy and definitely cut from the same cloth.

Lemora is the vampire here, a beautiful but cold woman who spirits young Lila Lee away from her Baptist church in search of her bank robber father. Lila’s totally pure, a fact the Baptist pastor goes to great lengths to establish, despite her father’s sordid activity (oh yeah, her father also killed her mother). But can purity stand against ancient evil?

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There are some noticeably low-budget aspects to the film, in the acting of some of the supporting folks (though I will say two leading ladies are quite solid in their roles, and the less-solid acting actually serves to heighten the tone of the film, which makes it work anyway), the lighting, and the grotesque but shaggy makeup on the vampires (except Lemora, of course) and on the mindless beast-men that are everywhere due to some disease running rampant that only vampires are immune to. But the film is surprisingly effective anyway – rather than let budget limitations show up poor sound, for example, a really in-your-face and creepy sound design takes over, turning unrealistic sounds into heightened, nightmarish ones.

The last half hour grew a little tedious as Lila Lee’s running away from the beast-men and the vampires and trying to escape Lemora’s clutches, but the first section of the film is a nicely pitched oddity – never quite reaching the heartbreaking beauty of some scenes in Valerie, but also remaining at least narratively comprehensible while Valerie gets pretty surreal at times. Note that I don’t necessarily think narrative comprehensibility trumps surrealism – in fact, I would rank Valerie higher, but Lemora is a more accessible and consistent film.

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Stats and stuff…

1973, USA
directed by Richard Blackburn, written by Richard Blackburn and Robert Fern
starring Lesley Taplin, Cheryl Smith

I’m ranking all my Challenge films on Flickchart (as I do all the films I see), a movie-ranking website that asks you to choose your favorite between two movies until it builds a ranked list of your favorites. Just for fun, I will average out the rankings and keep a running tally of whose recommendations rank the highest. When you add a film to Flickchart, it pits it against films already on your chart to see where it should fall. Here’s how Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural entered my chart:

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural > The Talented Mr. Ripley
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural < The Journey of Natty Gann
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural > Redline
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural < The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural > Picnic at Hanging Rock
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural < The Fortune Cookie
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural < Young and Innocent
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural < The Seventh Seal
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural > Kawasaki’s Rose
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural < Duck Soup
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural < Lady of Burlesque
Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural < The Mask of Dimitrios

Final ranking #1248 out of 3655 films on my chart (66%)

It is now my #48 Coming of Age film, my #20 Gothic film, my #39 Monster Film, my #23 Supernatural Horror, my #6 Vampire Film, and my #13 film of 2014.

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural was recommended by Chad Hoolihan, a friend from the Flickcharters group on Facebook. Averaging together this #1248 ranking with my #1754 ranking of his other film, The Hole, gives Chad an average ranking of 1501.

A few more screenshots…

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