Run, little girl! Innocence is in peril tonight!
With a tag line like that how could you not love Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural. Sometimes films appear on my Netflix Queue and I have no idea how they got there. Such is the case with this 1973 film directed by Richard Blackburn. And despite what the Netflix envelope says, this film is not as salacious as it sounds. It is vaguely disturbing and weird however, with dark undercurrents that give you an "ick" feeling long after the film has ended.
Cheryl Smith (who was 17 at the time of filming) plays 13 year old Lila Lee, a young girl whose gangster Father just killed her Mother. Lila is taken in by a church, whose parishioners are all women, and whose Reverend (played by Blackburn) obviously has some issues. Lila receives a mysterious letter one night from a woman who claims to be taking care of her dying Father. He wants to see Lila one more time, so Lila sneaks away from the church to find him. Thus begins her descent into adulthood/hell.
This film really is about the loss of innocence. Every step of the way Lila is thrust into an adult world of leering men, violence, sex, zombies, and Lesbian Vampires. It is not as great as it sounds. This is a slow moving film, with lots of running around in the dark and bad make-up. Lesley Gilb, as Lemora, the Vampire Queen, is a saving grace. Her performance is very strange. Is she good or evil? Is she a "mother" figure or a predator? She glides through the film as if she was given no clear direction but it works! The film also looks great. It is a period piece, set during prohibition, and it feels very authentic. The ending is a little disjointed, as is the rest of the film, but it is worth checking out. It is a PG rated horror film, but it is not at all for children.