Blu-ray Review: Beyond the Door (1974)

May 28, 2020

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Five minutes into Beyond the Door you get narration from ol’ Satan himself, Jesus with tits n’ bush, a basic premise that manages to combine The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, a funk song about the devil (which the musicians are told isn’t as good as their fap sessions), and a kid drinking mother fuckin’ Campbell’s soup straight from the mother fuckin’ can like a mother fuckin’ boss. I feel like “5 skulling” this bad bitch right here and now, but there is so very, very much more…

Anyhow, Jessica (Juliet Mills) and her music producer beau Robert (Gabriele Lavia)… a man that loves reading about fish fucking and whom the children lovingly refer to as “asshole”… have found themselves with a new baby on the way, even though Jess is on the pill.

Speaking of that finicky fetus, it’s growing at an accelerated rate and Jess is lossing her ever-lovin’ mind in various and sundry violent ways! Meanwhile that soup enthusiast tyke Ken (David Colin Jr.) whom I mentioned earlier begins befriending some not-so-imaginary, flan flingin’ friends, much to the chagrin of his hip-lingo slingin’ sis Gail (Barbara Fiorini).

Soon Jessica is going through all of the classic stages of Regan; we get gravelly voiced threats, green vomit, rotten teeth… a real Greatest (S)Hits collection of all of your top favorites of 1973. Will our harried heroine make it out of this preternatural pickle with her soul intact… and what role does her ex Dimitri (Richard Johnson) have to play in this demonic deviltry?

There’s a reason that I absolutely adore Italian knock-offs of famous Hollywood fright-flicks. While decidedly lower on the rung as far as glossy filmmaking is concerned, these films bring so much full-on bombast and pure “What in the fuck?”, that they are utterly irresistible… and Beyond the Door may be the greatest example of that I’ve ever set my eerie eyeballs on!

If The Exorcist was an Evil Kinevel stunt-spectacular, then Beyond the Door is the neighborhood prepubescent badass that lays his friends down and launches his Huffy Pro-Thunder over them… both are amazing to watch, but the latter just has that underdog, completely out-of-their mind bravado that makes you say “holy shit” on repeat with a smile on your putrid puss 666 miles wide!

Along with that aesthetic, this film works so well because of the completely “all-in” performance from  Juliet Mills who chews up the scenery with as much relish as Ken sucking down a can of pea soup… which is to say a whole hell of a lot!

To be sure there are some rather fan-fucking-tastic sequences in this fright flick, including an “all hell breaking loose” sequence in the children’s room involving possessed dolls, tremors, and the above-mentioned flying dessert, also while cruder from a technical standpoint than it’s famous counterpart, Mills’ head-spinning sequence is creepy as shit, and there’s all manner of psychotic visuals and gross-out gags that will surely satisfy horror hounds salivating for some supernatural spaghetti!

While the main feature is the main draw here in my not-so-humble opinion, our freaky friends at Arrow Video have packed this Blu-ray release with a staggering amount of bonus material!

First we get an introduction to the film from Mills, followed by interviews with writer/director Ovidio G. Assonitis (in English), cinematographer/co-writer Roberto D’Ettore Piazzoli, composer Franco Micalizzi, camera operator Maurizio Maggi, and an audio interview with Gabriele Lavia (all in Italian with handy-dandy subtitles).

Following that we get an archival featurette discussing the film and it’s production on it’s 35th anniversary (it’s 46 years old as of this writing), an archival interview with actor Johnson, a collection of trailers and TV spots, a series of alternate opening titles, and an image gallery.

Next up is a dreadful duo of audio commentaries; one an archival chat featuring Assonitis (who has a remarkable memory of the film’s production, and plenty of entertaining stories to tell of the same), Euro-horror historian Nathaniel Thompson, and Code Red Releasing’s Lee Christian, and the other a lively archival conversation featuring Mills, filmmaker Scott Spiegel, film scholar Darren Gross and a returning Christian.

And all of that is on Disc One!

Disc Two brings us the slightly truncated U.S. Theatrical Version of the film, interviews with Mills and Lavia, and best of all; an in-depth, nearly ninety minute long documentary on the history of Italy’s devil flick sub-genre that is worth the price of admission alone I tell ya!

The whole horrible hootenanny comes in a beastly box featuring newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach, a reversible fold-out poster, and one hell (pun intended) of a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by genre film expert John Martin and film historian Alessio di Rocco.

Outrageous, insane, and at times down-right ridiculous; Assonitis’ Beyond the Door is one of the greatest Exorcistploitation flicks there is, and while it can be seen as derivative it’s a whole unholy host of dynamite deviltry!

 

 

 

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