Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beyond the Door (1972)

Title: Beyond the Door (aka The Devil Within Her) (1972)

Director: Ovidio G Asonitis


Italian Horror at one time was all about knock offs. By that I mean, they made cheaper, sleazier versions of American films. This happened with Jaws for example. The Italian version was known as Great White but it was the same basic premise. A giant shark terrorizing the shores. Even the poster was similar! So much so that Universal Studios sued the guys who made Great White for copyright infringement. Same thing happened with the film Ill be reviewing today, Beyond the Door. This film is so similar to Warner Brothers The Exorcist, that WB sued the asses of the makers of  Beyond the Door. They didn’t win because the court decided that WB had no copyrights over a certain moment in a film. As a consequence of WB loosing this lawsuit, a lot of cheap knock offs of The Exorcist emerged. But this was the first one.

Story is about this lady who becomes pregnant, but she's not just pregnant with any old baby. Her child is destined to be the child of Satan himself! In other words, shes expecting the antichrist! At the same time, her other to children start behaving like little devils themselves, doing all sorts of mischevious things, might make you wonder if they are not little antichrists themselves. But no, the one and only antichrist is the one thats on its way. Soon after she realizes that theres something weird about the baby shes carrying (she floats on top of her bed at night and sleep walks a lot) she tries to get the help of a priest, who has been tempted by the devil himself. Soon, she becomes possessed by the devil himself! Can she come out victorious from this? Or will she give birth to the devil child?

This movie was okay. I mean I can’t honestly bring myself to give it a great rating because it’s very boring at times. Characters talk the lamest bullshit just to fill the screen time with something and I honestly just hate it when that happens in a movie. And it happens a lot on this one! In accordance with Italian Horror Movie Rule #1, the dubbing is awful! So much sometimes that I couldn’t even understand what the hell they were saying. I had to guess what they were talking about by the one or two words that I did manage to understand. In accordance with Italian Horror Movie Rule #2 there are a lot of nonsensical moments on this film! Things that have no meaning or purpose whatsoever! At one point, the woman’s husband is walking aimlessly through the city and suddenly, this band of musicians’ walks up to him and starts playing their instruments as they walk with him, to piss him off or something. I didn’t get that! Why was that scene there? Who the hell knows! There are lots of scenes like that one on this movie, things happening and you have no idea why they happened. One scene has this bathroom towel catchning fire, and you end up thinking damn, the little kids are going to be burned alive! But the scene goes nowhere! We never even get to know what happened to the towel that caught fire! I was like “that’s just like a 70s Italian horror movie!”

But amongst the bull crap and the boring conversations there are some cool moments. There’s this cool scene in which all the toys inside of the kids room come to life. And the room trembles and shakes as if there was an earthquake going on…pretty cool moment. There’s lots of supernatural shenanigans going on through out the whole movie. As I watched this film, I kind of got the vibe that it might have partially influenced Spielberg to make Poltergeist, because there are a lot of moments in this film that are extremely similar to Poltergeist. Especially in that scene with the toys coming to life inside of the room. Only Spielberg had the money to do it better. And Tobe Hooper to direct it. But Im just inferring that. Could very well be what happened though.

There’s another moment in that very scene with the kids alone in the room which was sooo similar to another scene in The Amytiville Horror. It’s a scene where a little kid is talking with the invisible demon, and apparently the demon is sitting in the rocking chair and we see the rocking chair swinging back and forth. There’s a scene just like that one in The Amityville Horrror which was released just a few years after! So even though this movie was a blatant rip off of  The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby on itself, it could have actually influenced a couple of american horror films. Even another one of the great american horror films might have been influenced by this one: The Omen. There’s many scenes similar to The Omen as well, and as I watched it I was thinking to myself, wow this movie ripped off more movies then I thought! But then, upon doing some research I realize that most of the movies I thought this film was ripping off were actually released years AFTER this one! So this movie might have been more influential than I had originally thought.

Like I said, if you can stand some of the more boring moments, you’ll eventually get to the good stuff which is really whenever they turn the focus of the film on the possessed mother to be. Those are really the best moments. Juliet Mills plays Jessica, the possessed mom. She out does herself in some of the possession sequences where she floats around the room, and she’s about to give birth to the demon baby. That was such an original moment for me, the one truly awesome moment in the film. Unfortunately its all the way in the last 20 minutes of the movie. The flick is filled with cool sequences, not nearly as awesome as The Exorcist, but almost there. Yeah it rips off that film, but it does it so well! So I salute this movie only for that, cause it did a rip off, it knew it, but they did it well. Still, anyway you look at it, it’s a cheap version of William Friedkin’s awesome horror masterpiece.

I recommend you see this movie only out of curiosity. This movie came out in a time where religious themed horror films where the talk of the town and everyone was scared of demons and Satan and all that hoopla. Hence so many movies with similar subject matter during this decade. Examples of this are The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, Abby. And for everyone of these American films, there was a cheap Italian version to follow. Don’t believe me check out these other films: House of Exorcism, L’Anticristo, Holocaust 2000 and so forth. This film is good to watch, only to see what other films it might have influenced, and for the supernatural sequences, everything else is pretty dull and uneventful.

Rating: 2 ½ out of  5
Beyond The DoorRosemary's BabyThe Omen (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)Abby

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