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The stern matriarch of a family that lives in a creepy mansion finds that a killer is hiding in the house, searching for a $500,000 fortune rumored to be hidden there and chopping off the heads of anyone who gets in the way. Written by
This is one of the truly great low-budget American semi-exploitation movies of the 70's, comparable (talking purely in terms of quality and shock-value) with other forgotten gems like for example "Blood and Lace", "The House that Vanished", "The Evictors" and "The Town that Dreaded Sundown". They don't necessarily revolve on common themes or substances, but they all feature a genuinely unsettling atmosphere and convoluted story lines you can't possibly predict. You continuously feel that anything can happen in this type of movies, from the most absurd plot twists to the totally unanticipated death of a pivot character. "Dear Dead Delilah" (that title alone!!) opens with a magnificently sinister sequence, supposedly taking place in a godforsaken Tennessee town in the mid-forties. We see how an eerie-looking teenage girl rebels vocally against her mother because she can't go on a date with a boy, but then the camera moves away from her room and we notice how chopped off body parts of the mother are spread around the hallway and the mother lies dead in the bathroom. Several years later the young teenager from the intro, Luddy, is released from the mental institution before the opening credits appear on screen. Almost naturally, you then expect the rest of the film to handle about the now matured woman reverting back to her old murderous habits, but that's exactly where the wicked imagination of 70's horror scriptwriters kicks in. Through a series of coincidental events, Luddy ends up working as a nurse in an environment that is even more demented as her own past. The crazed, wheelchair-bound spinster Delilah takes her into her mansion, just when there's a family reunion taking place to discuss Delilah's inheritance. The mean-spirited woman reveals the family fortune of nearly $500.000 is hidden somewhere on the estate, and this obviously generates a large-scaled treasure hunt as well as a sardonic killing spree. Delilah's greedy and troubled siblings are all looking for the fortune, but encounter an axe-wielding maniac rather than a pile of money. Probably not intended for the eyes of nowadays horror crowds, but "Dear Dead Delilah" is a gloriously nostalgic gem with delightfully insane character drawings, unusual suspense and most surprisingly outrageously gory make-up effects. The film is extremely bloody with, for example, an explicit decapitation and someone getting shot in the head. The cast is terrific, with Agnes Moorehead as the crazed matriarch on top, and the ambiance is just thoroughly creepy! Very much recommended!
Thank you, Mr. Vomitron, for your help in obtaining this purely gold gem.
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