DEAR DEAD DELILAH (1972) Reviews and overview

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‘You pay for the whole seat – you only use the edge!’
Dear Dead Delilah is a 1972 American Southern Gothic horror film written and directed by author John Farris (Masters of Horror: ‘I Scream. You Scream. We All Scream for Ice Cream’; The Fury; When Michael Calls).

The movie stars Agnes Moorehead, Will Geer, Michael Ansara and Dennis Patrick.

Nashville: Back in 1943, Luddy viciously murdered her mother with an axe. Thirty years later and freshly released from the state mental hospital, deemed ‘cured’ of her violent impulses, Luddy’s luck seems to be turning around, thanks to a chance encounter with the family of Delilah (Agnes Moorehead), the miserly matriarch of a large plantation estate.

Luddy is hired as Delilah’s housekeeper, but no sooner than her arrival at the cavernous and secluded mansion, grisly murders begin to take place. And worse, each time a new corpse is discovered, Luddy finds she is unable to recall her whereabouts at the time of the bloodshed. Could her old self be coming out, or is someone else trying to set her up for more sinister motives?…


On August 28, 2018, Dear Dead Delilah was released by Vinegar Syndrome as a Blu-ray + DVD combo.


The movie had been newly restored from recently discovered 35mm vault elements, with bonus features:

  • Family Secrets: The Making of Dear Dead Delilah – an interview with director John Farris
  • Promotional still and article gallery
  • Reversible cover artwork
  • English SDH subtitles

” …the true strength of the film is Farris’ dialogue, with sniping siblings spitting bon mots at each other at an alarming rate […] Dear Dead Delilah is funny, which frankly caught me by surprise—I was expecting arch with the premise, but Farris chooses to play the film as Gothic soap opera with splashes of grue that come out of nowhere.” Daily Dead

“Moorehead, whose last film this was, is the one gem. She wears a brown wig and the only cast member who speaks in a Southern accent that sounds genuine. Her constant frowning facial expression is entertaining and helps enliven this otherwise poor excuse of a film with every scene that she is in […] The film does boast some graphic murders that seem well ahead of its time in the grisly department.” Scopophilia

“At times it has the cardboard drive-in vibe of S.F. Brownrigg (Don’t Look in the BasementDon’t Open the Door) but its flashes of dreamy surrealism and taste for broad soap opera theatrics also brings David Lynch to mind. It is a bit rough around the edges (me likey) but it truly accomplishes some striking moments of eerie weirdness. Best of all, the various deaths of the conniving family members are as strong as anything in Bay of Blood or Friday the 13th.” Kindertrauma

” …it’s cheap, uninspired, flaccidly directed, and what very few interesting ideas it has are poorly handled. It was another of those movies that came in the wake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane) in which an older actress graces a horror movie with her presence; in this case, Agnes Moorehead, who seems to be on autopilot here (it would be her last movie).” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“Director-writer John Farris spends a lot of time focusing on the family strife, but it is pretty apparent who is behind all of the killing when it all starts to go down (hint: when only certain characters know about another certain character’s criminal past, they just might be the killers).” Indiana Junkie and the Temple of Box Office Receipts

“One of the lower profile entries in the grand guignol cycle begun in the 1960s, Dear Dead Delilah is bloody fun all the way, boasting some wonderfully gory murders, and hammy acting all around. One gets the feeling Moorehead had a ball with this, her final film.” The Terror Trap

Choice dialogue:
Buffy: That’s a major point of incompatibility between us because I certainly wouldn’t think of drinking a Martini without an olive in it.
Delilah: “How can I destroy people when they’ve already succeeded in destroying themselves?”
Delilah: “There’s no hatred burns like the hatred of the chronically weak!”

Main cast and characters:
Agnes Moorehead … Delilah Charles – Frankenstein: the True StoryHush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte; The BatWill Geer … Roy Jurroe – Seconds
Michael Ansara  … Morgan Charles – The Manitou; Day of the Animals; It’s Alive
Dennis Patrick … Doctor Alonzo Charles – House of Dark Shadows; Dark Shadows TV series; The Time TravelersAnne Meacham … Grace Charles
Robert Gentry … Richard
Patricia Carmichael … Luddy Dublin
Elizabeth Eis … Ellen – Dark Shadows TV series
Ruth Baker … Buffy
Ann Gibbs … Young Luddy
John Marriott … Marshall
William Kerwin  … Burke (uncredited) – Playgirl Killer; writer of Love Goddesses of Blood Island and co-writer of Sting of Death

Filming locations:
Nashville, Tennessee

Technical details:
1 hour 35 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Mono

Film Facts:
Bette Davis was apparently considered to play Delilah.


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