Sunday, July 5

Some quick thoughts on Beyond the Door (1974)

A.K.A. Chi sei? / The Devil Within Her

I was certainly expecting a more straight forward Exorcist rip-off than this. If one wants to call the film that, it's a rip-off by way of a considerable dose of Rosemary's Baby and The Omen. The only real demonic green pea-spittin' aspect is a (blatant) riff on the classic finale from Friedkin's film for the climax here. Besides that, I find it hard to dismiss the work of Assonitis and cast as only that. There are much worse offenders in the "aping trends" category.

Time is taken to flesh out the plight of the female lead's quickened devil semen pregnancy, her gradual possession, and the impact on her family. Though perhaps a little too much time as the story wants to hammer home what's obvious to the viewer from the start while mostly glossing over a few important points. Forgivable enough taking everything into account. Juliet Mills and Richard Johnson turn in sold performances, but the post dubbing of Gabriele Lavia as Mills' on-screen husband makes for a mechanical presence. Assonitis' direction is measured, manages some creepy scenes (like Mills floating out of her bedroom), and never feels quick to wrap merely to time a cash-in. I loved the atmospheric use of voice-over and imposing two shots over each other at certain times throughout. Franco Micalizzi classes up the joint with a layered score that's appropriately upbeat or gloomy depending on the mood.

Code Red did a fine job with the dense supplemental material including two commentaries (this Best Buy exclusive 2-DVD set has a shitty VHS-sourced theatrical version as well), but the transfer is no great shakes. Assonitis seems to have went with a soft focus here, but the picture looks far too hazy despite that. The presence of edge enhancement and subtle interlace artifacts also just further harms the image quality.


venoms5 said...

Hi, Jason. When I bought the Code Red disc, it was the first time I'd seen the film having been curious about it for a number of years. After finally seeing it, I was a bit disappointed in the film and found it to be quite boring although things did pick up considerably towards the end. Even still, I didn't see what the (minor) fuss was about in regards to this movie.

Hopefully, a second viewing will prove beneficial. The features alone were excellent and everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves on the picture. Hopefully, Code Red will be able to continue putting out quality discs of films whose quality doesn't always match the level of effort put into the extras.

Anonymous said...

Really liked this one (check out my review). It's unfortunate that the scenes ripping off the Exorcist/Rosemary's Baby/The Omen are so blatant because the rest of the film is really creepy. Also love the "animated" puke scene.

Jayson Kennedy said...

Yeah, it sorta fell as an in-betweener with me. Though the film certainly deserved a DVD release.

Anonymous said...

Beyond the Door is awesome. The concept of Richard Johnson being suspended in time is profound and the conversation between the family doctor and a strange woman who lives in a boathouse talking about the supernatural is interesting. The best scene is when the childrens dolls and toys come to life. The remake to Beyond the Door has been made. Its not known when it will come out. The music is awesome and there is plenty of atmosphere in the original Beyond the Door. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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