Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural – aka Lemora: The Lady Dracula and The Legendary Curse of Lemora – is a 1973 American horror film written and directed by Richard Blackburn, who also stars. Blackburn later gained fame as the co-writer of the Paul Bartel film Eating Raoul (1982).
During the Prohibition era, thirteen year-old Lila Lee (Cheryl Smith) is summoned by letter to visit her injured father, a gangster, before he dies. She runs away from the Reverend (Blackburn), who has raised her and in whose church she has become well known as a singer. Lila ends up taking a bus to the strange town of Astaroth, where people have the “Astaroth Look.”
En route, Lila is menaced in a swamp by a band of mindless living dead creatures who haunt the woods and town. She is rescued by a mysterious woman named Lemora (Lesley Gilb), who takes a fancy to her.
It seems Lemora is the one who called the girl to her, though whether to protect or to corrupt her remains to be seen. Lemora takes Lila to an old house, where she bathes the girl and tries to soothe her. Exploring, Lila discovers the truth: Lemora is a vampire who feeds upon children and is holding her father captive. She is also the unofficial queen of the Astaroth vampires…
Reviews [click links to read more]:
‘This film completely transcends its backyard production pedigree and manages to project a lush, unrelentingly sinister atmosphere. Thick with shabby Victorian moodiness, Lemora is simply an amazing feat of shoestring art direction by Sterling Franck, who infuses the film with a waking dream quality that ultimately gives the film its power to spellbind viewers.’ Paul Corupe, DVD Verdict
“Blackburn – who has made no other films – has spoken of Lemora as a cross between art and exploitation. Happily, art took precedence; the care taken with the direction, the music, the sets, the costumes, and everything else helps to make Lemora a unique horror experience.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
“Although the scenes with Lemora’s forest-dwelling zombies are fairly gruesome, the film is, above all, a work of oneiric suggestion and (incidentally) considerable eroticism…” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
“A surreal terror that boasts some inspired creativity, Lemora is a unique effort worth the viewer’s time thanks to its lush color palette, Smith’s spirited performance, a beautiful score and the overall moody vibe right out of a Grimm’s Fairy tale.” The Terror Trap.
“Despite crude production values, the film creates an frightening, hallucinatory mood. It also skirts the exploitation elements so common in the genre (note the subtitle)and deserves its strong cult following.” Mike Mayo, Videohound’s Horror Show
“Surrealistic vampire flick with arty overtones – some scenes pretentious as hell, others traditionally imitative of Dracula. A young girl’s odyssey through a nightmarish landscape is filled with grotesque people and maintains curiosity if you don’t take it literally.” John Stanley, Creature Features
“Lemora is on the low end of low budget (as the production quality reflects), but enchants viewers with its fairy-tale atmosphere and spooky, dreamlike story.” Adam Lukeman, Fangoria’s 101 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen
Cast and characters:
- The Reverend — Richard Blackburn
- Lila Lee — Cheryl Smith + Parasite; Laserblast; The Incredible Melting Man; Massacre at Central High; Phantom of the Paradise
- Alvin Lee — William Whitton + The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals
- The Ticket Man – Steve Johnson
- The Bus Driver — Hy Pyke + Vamp; Hack-O-Lantern; Slithis
- Lemora – Lesley Taplin [as Lesley Gilb]
- Solange – Maxine Ballantyne
- Unknown – Monty Pyke
- Young Man – Parker West