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Beyond the Cheese...,
This review is from: Beyond the Door [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Beyond the Door is a great Satanic possession film from 1974. It probably isn't a must-see for all horror fans, but those that enjoy cheesy Italian horror films in this particular sub-genre should definitely give it a look. Though it sometimes has an unintentionally funny feel to it, it has a great atmosphere, a few nice scares and enough gross-out puke to give The Exorcist a run for its money! and it was really well made despite the low budget, unlike the other Italian knock off films that were made during this period. Beyond the Door was directed by prolific Italian producer Ovidio G. Assonitis who other notable films as a director include Who Saw Her Die?, Tentacles and Madhouse. Feeling very much like a mix of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, Beyond the Door (aka Chi Sei? and The Devil Within Her) tells the story of Jessica Barrett (Juliet Mills), a seemingly happy `70s housewife with two young kids and husband Robert (Gabriele Lavia) who is a successful music producer. Things take a turn for the worse when Jessica discovers she is pregnant. When Robert finds her in the bathroom puking up blood, Jessica swears that the baby is trying to kill her. She begins hearing strange, guttural voices and laughter and acting strangely. Upon visiting the doctor, she is shocked to find out that the fetus is developing at an accelerated rate and as we soon find out, she is also demonically possessed. Even though Beyond the Door has been called a "rip-off" of earlier horror flicks, I still found it to be an enjoyable film and worth seeing.
One thing that makes it such a treat is the crazy kid characters. The little boy, Ken (David Colin Jr.) loves to say curse words and his older sister, Gail (Barbara Fiorini), loves to talk like an adult (with some hilarious 70's dialogue) and has fifteen copies of the same book she always lugs around with her. I'm not really sure what the point of making these kids so weird was, but I thought it was amusing. Performance wise Juliet Mills is mesmerizing as she gives it her all in every scene. Cast in the role of Jessica Barrett's husband Robert is an Italian actor named Gabriele Lavia who would go onto work with Dario Argento in two films Deep Red and Inferno. Another performance of note is Richard Johnson who horror fans might recognise from Lucio Fulci's Zombie 2. Overall all the cast were good in their respective roles with no performance standing out as weak or forgettable. Besides the quirky characters, the narrative of the story flowed pretty normally, some reviewers were complaining about the film being confusing but then again they had the older cut version while this edition from Code Red was completely uncut and is probably the best way to watch this film. The film was presented in anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film's original aspect ratio. This Progressive flagged transfer from Code Red looks flawless with vivid colors especially reds and razor sharp detail throughout.
Extras for this release include a T.V. spot for the film, an English language trailer for the film and trailers for other Code Red titles. Also included with this release is an extensive image gallery that contains lobby cards, posters, stills, VHS box art and other promotional images. The image gallery plays like a featurette with the brilliant music from the film playing in the background. Other extras for this release include an interview with Richard Johnson titled An Englishman in Italy and a making of featurette titled Beyond the Door: Thirty Five Years Later which includes interviews with Ovidio G. Assonitis, Juliette Mills, Richard Johnson and Alex Rebar. The main extras for this release are two audio commentaries. The first audio commentary is with actress Juliette Mills, producer of Hostel Scott Spiegel, film critic Darren Gross. The second audio commentary is with director Ovidio G. Assonitis and film critic Nathaniel Thompson. Overall Beyond the Door gets a definitive DVD release from Code Red that stands out as one of their best DVD release to date, highly recommended.