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The Old Woman:
[singing to Lila]
There was an old woman all skin and bones, Ooh-ooh-oooh-ooh-ooh. And she did weep and she did moan, Ooooh-ooh-oooh-ooh-ooh. She walked on through the streets of town. Ooooh-ooh-oooh-ooh-ooh. Where all the dead lay on the ground. Ooooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh. Then turned and to the parson said. Ooooh. Will I look like that when I am dead? Ooooh. The parson to the old woman said... BOO!
[Lila screams, the old laughs hysterically]
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This highlight of seventies horror cinema is a vibrant and lush Gothic fairytale story of a young girl's odyssey as she searches for her father in a world of vampires and demons that wont hesitate to take her innocence at any opportunity that they get. Richard Blackburn's film takes influence from a number of sources across both film and literature, but in spite of this; the writer-director has managed to mould together a tale that is both haunting and original. The story follows Lila Lee, the daughter of a notorious gangster who, after finding his wife in bed with another man, proceeds in blowing both her and her lover to bits. Shortly after her father had fled the town to avoid the law, Lila Lee receives a letter telling her that her father is on his deathbed and wants her to come and see him. Only thing is, this letter is signed 'Lemora'. The film plays out like an offbeat coming of age drama, with the innocent young Lila Lee learning that all is not as it seems, and that danger lurks around every corner. The supernatural elements serve brilliantly as a metaphor for the similar dangers in real life.
The acting in Lemora clearly isn't the most important aspect of the film, but there are still some notable performances on display. Cheryl Smith takes the lead role as the angelic Lila Lee, and completely looks the part as a bewildered young girl in the centre of a world she knows nothing about. The title role of 'Lemora' is taken by Lesley Gilb. This actress doesn't have a film credit to her name after this film, and it's not really surprising as despite looking the part; her performance is wooden in the extreme. Writer-director Richard Blackburn is surprisingly effective in his small role as a reverend. He completely convinces as the odd god fearing preacher. Really, though, it's the more aesthetic elements of the film that rule; and the atmosphere and the make-up are absolutely excellent. The nighttime filming helps to create a sense of danger at every turn, and brilliantly compliments the fear that the child at the centre of the story is feeling. The make-up is effectively done, but not overdone; which makes the monsters feel very real despite their otherwise otherworldly appearance. Lemora, despite it's low budget and inexperienced crew, is a surprisingly professionally done film. While most films released at this point in time relied on high body counts and gore levels to draw audiences; Richard Blackburn has put the focus on story and atmosphere, and that is why Lemora is the enduring, albeit lost, classic that it is today.
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