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An old Gothic cathedral, built over a mass grave, develops strange powers which trap a number of people inside with ghosts from a 12th Century massacre seeking to resurrect an ancient demon from the bowels of the Earth.
Feodor Chaliapin Jr.
It isn't hard to see why 'Lemora' was condemned by the Catholic film society. It's the story of a pubescent girl's fall from innocence and her sexual awakening, told in a 'fairytale for adults' manner. There are some amoral scenes to sit through with hints of lesbianism between the child and her vampire tutor that occasionally come across as sleazy, especially when the pubescent girl is given a bath by Lemora ('What an exciting figure you have').
Ambitiously set in the 1920s, a gangster brutally murders his wife and her lover before disappearing into the country. His thirteen-year-old daughter, Lila Lee (played by Cheryl Smith*) is cared for by the Reverend Mueller (director, Blackburn), who secretly houses sensuous feeling for his little choirgirl. Lila is delighted when she receives a letter from the mysterious Lemora, detailing her father's deteriorating condition. Lemora demands that Lila be present at her father's bed immediately. Lila's journey to Lemora's hidden cottage, through dense dark woods is constantly plagued; firstly, by lecherous older men, then a psychopathic bus-driver and then a group of fanged beasts who chase her from the bus. The seductive Lemora's house is filled with children, all of whom are part of her growing legion of vampires. The Reverend has decided to admit his sordid desires to Lila and begins to search for her. You'd think that was enough plot development, but after this point more twists follow, which might confuse some viewers.
'Lemora', a late night TV favourite, is considered to be one of the classic vampire films of the early seventies, opposite 'Count Yorga, Vampire' (Bob Kelljan, 1970). There strong sexual overtones and the corruption of innocence storyline were the prime reasons why the Catholic Film Board wanted this film banned for almost twenty years. Due to its lack of budget, (poor sound and sketchy cinematography) and European feel, the film often looks like a porn film which doesn't help matters concerning the sexual connotations, but they're never really presented in a exploitative manner.
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