Lila Lee (the late, great Venus of the drive-in CHERYL “RAINBEAUX” SMITH) is as pure as the driven snow. In spite of, or perhaps because of, her estranged father’s gangster reputation, she is revered as a living angel by the church congregation she sings for. One day she receives a mysterious letter inviting her to come to the town of Astaroth. Her father is said to be ill and longing for her forgiveness. Sneaking away from her obviously smitten Reverend guardian (Director RICHARD BLACKBURN), she stows away in the back of a car and begins a journey that threatens the corruption of her body and soul at every turn. The letter was in fact a rouse designed by Lemora (LESLIE GILB), a powerful Vampiric woman who, like most others who encounter Lila, is bent on possessing her. Archetypal creatures; Beast men, grizzled hags and eerie giggling munchkins abound in this shoe-string budgeted, Southern gothic fairy tale obsessed with the destruction of innocence. With its indigo blacks and exuberant jolts of color LEMORA resembles a children’s minimalist stage play production when it’s not echoing masterworks like NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and even the forthcoming SUSPIRIA. It’s occasional amateurishness may prevent some viewers from becoming completely engaged, but if you give in to its lyrical logic, it’s a hauntingly singular experience. This PG-rated oddity centering on the sexualization of a 13-year-old is certainly one of the most unusual vampire films ever made. (CHERYL SMITH’s real life submission to the Dionysian path through heroin addiction adds yet another layer to the already fraught with allegory film.) Ignored and even rallied against upon its release, LEMORA has sown a reputation and a feverish fan base over the decades. At once childish and yet alarmingly sophisticated, this is one quietly effective mood piece that may might not scare you senseless but might just invade your dreams.
I’ve never seen this, though I definitely need to. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it.