Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973)

Synopsis:

In the 1920s, in a small Southern American town, Lila (Cheryl Smith, Caged Heat), an innocent 13-year-old girl, gets word that her father, who went into hiding after killing her mother, is dying and wants to see her. But nothing is what it seems …

Reaction & Thoughts:

Directed by Richard Blackburn from an original screenplay by Blackburn and
Robert Fern, Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (also known as Lemora: Lady Dracula) is a coming-of-age allegory disguised as a horror movie. The film twists horror tropes to fashion a mosaic of pre-puberty blues — Lila’s strange journey through the netherworld will, figuratively and literally, turn her into a woman.

The film uses vampirism as a metaphor for sexual awakening. Lila not only has to fight her newly discovered sexuality, but also the idea that she might inadvertently have done something to provoke sexual attention. Lemora (Lesley Gilb), a sort of vampire queen, is presented as a mentor — Obi-Wan with fangs! — who attempts to guide Lila through her transition from human to vampire, from girl to woman.

There is an intriguing lesbian subtext here. Lila constantly rejects men’s unwanted sexual advances. All male figures in the film objectify her. Although a creature of the netherworld, Lemora is kind, patience, even helpful. Lemora sees Lila as a potential mate, but the vampire’s feelings for the girl are shown as benign. This is a rare instance of homosexuality presented as less problematic than heterosexuality.

Lemora also deals with the subject of religion in an unorthodox manner. The movie makes an interesting connection between Christians and Satanists. They are interchangeable, the film argues. In a really great montage near the end, you see how both ends of the spectrum operate in identical manner.

Lemora looks fantastic despite the very small budget. The entire film takes place at night, and Robert Caramico’s (The Daring Dobermans and Eaten Alive) stylish and moody cinematography is excellent — you clearly don’t need much money to create something visually entrancing.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural seems something the Grimm Brothers would have written — a superbly done, allegorical fairy tale for adults. The film plays like a nightmare. The narrative is pretty straightforward, but the film relies heavily on complex images. Overall this is a great little fantasy film with much artistry. Color, 85 minutes, Rated PG.

P.S. This is part of my annual October Horror Movie Challenge.

13 responses to “Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973)

  1. Vampirism in films works best as a metaphor for identifiable issues, certainly sexuality, which also particularly worked for Let Me In and The Moth Diaries. It’s interesting when such a vampire film may be more satisfying than the blockbuster appeals for The Lost Boys and Twilight. I always find that the most dramatic vampire stories, even with all the traditional horror aspects of Dracula and Lemora, are the most attractive. Lemora has its message and was another reason why horror film classics of the early 70s could break astonishingly new ground.

    Liked by 2 people

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