How did you first get connected with Francis Coppola?
ROGER CORMAN: I hired Francis out of the UCLA film school as an editor. I had bought the American rights to two Russian science fiction films, which had wonderful special effects, but they were filled with outrageous anti-American propaganda. And so I hired Francis to re-edit those films, and delete the anti-American propaganda. And then he went along and worked with me on several films as my assistant, and particularly on a Grand Prix Formula One race car picture, called The Young Racers, in which we traveled from track to track.
Francis and our key grip built racks and various compartments into a Volkswagen microbus, so that the microbus was actually a traveling small studio. We used that, with a crew of six or seven professionals, and then we would hire local people.
When the picture was finished, I had to go back to do a picture in the United States, but it occurred to me we had efficiently functioning crew and everything in microbus, so we could stay and do another picture.
We were finishing at the British Grand Prix, which that year was at Liverpool, but the problem was that British labor laws were very difficult. We only had permits to work in and around the track. But I knew that the Irish labor laws were looser. So I said to Francis, 'If you can come up with an idea for a horror script, you can take the microbus and several of the crew and just put it on a ferry and go across the Irish sea and shoot there.'
He came up with a very interesting idea for Dementia 13, and he contacted some people he'd been with at the UCLA film school and they flew over to Dublin and everybody lived in a big house there while he shot the picture.
It was a very interesting psychological suspense story. We took one idea from Hitchcock, which was that the leading lady would die early in the film, just as she did in Psycho. I always thought that was great, because nobody ever expects the leading lady to die halfway through the film!