Okay. So this is a case where the Italian movie industry decided to cash in on a successful horror movie by giving two completely unrelated films the sequel title treatment and creating a “franchise.” I don’t care that Shock and Amok Train are NOT actually sequels to Beyond the Door. For the sake of this blog, I fully intend to treat them as a splendid bogus trilogy.
BEYOND THE DOOR (1974)
Often trashed because it’s an Exorcist rip-off, this one should be applauded for ripping it off better than any of the dozens of possession movies that have come out in the past decade. Beyond the Door has genuine creepy and disturbing scenes. The trailer for this movie fucked me up when I was five-years-old! Yeah. I’m talking about the vertical levitation scene.
Beyond the Door is really The Exorcist meets Rosemary’s Baby. Okay, some parts suck. The devil’s narration that opens the film is kind of laughable. And the dialogue of the children is also laughable, but mostly because of the dubbed voices…I think.
Our vulgar demonized be-otch this time is Juliet Mills, best known for 3 things: playing the nanny in The Nanny and the Professor, playing the witch in the cheesy supernatural soap opera Passions, and playing the cougar to Maxwell Caulfield before it was trendy.
The plot is simple; the devil wants her unborn baby. The dream-like opening is pretty scandalous. A naked woman is symbolically crucified and her face turns into the face of Jesus, making him a sort of she-male. After that, Beyond the Door succeeds wonderfully in capturing the grit and eeriness of the bedroom scenes in The Exorcist. There are even possessed toys. But Juliet’s shenanigans are what really mess with your head. These are motion visuals that won’t soon leave your traumatized mind.
Seriously, if you get off on the demonic moments of The Exorcist, you really must let Beyond the Door possess your soul. And keep an ear out for the pea soup in-joke. At least, I think it’s an in-joke.
BEYOND THE DOOR II (1977)
Shock, directed by Italian horror master Mario Bava, gets the distinction of being marketed as Beyond the Door II. In a way, the title works perfectly. Instead of the mom being possessed, this time, it appears her son has a demon in him. This kid is super creepy and his mother seems to be going mad. Is there a ghost? Is her son possessed? Is she possessed?
From beginning to end, this is classic Italian horror in style, atmosphere, and eeriness. It’s seriously like a mind trip as disturbing segments bombard us, like a demon hand that keeps popping up, a floating razor blade, and a metamorphosis of a boy into his father.
This freaky movie is hindered by one aspect—the abundance of sexual interest of the little boy in his mother. It’s really gross, from the boy pinning his mother to the ground and essentially dry humping her, to him lurking around her bedroom and bathroom and stealing her underwear. WTF? The fact that you finally “get it” when the truth is revealed doesn’t make up for having to endure very uncomfortable scenes between a very young actor and an adult woman. Ew…fricking…ew!
BEYOND THE DOOR III (1989)
It took them over a decade to come up with a movie that they decided fit the Beyond the Door bill. And the movie they came up with? Amok Train. AMOK TRAIN. Seems like the title says it all, huh?
A bunch of students go on a train trip, there’s some evil professor, satanic rituals, the need for a virgin, a lead girl (and hence, a virgin)…and then the movie tailspins into utter chaos and confusion. Basically, it’s a movie about a killer train. Awesome. Super gore and a gaggle of witches are the main reasons to watch this one.