Beyond the Door (1974)

R   |    |  Horror

Beyond the Door (1974) Poster

Juliet Mills plays a young pregnant woman in San Francisco who is going to have the devil's baby during her strange possession. Richard Johnson shows up to help her... but what does he really want?


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6 September 2014 | drownnnsoda
| Unabashed ripoff that is otherwise a visually interesting, borderline surrealist film
Oy vey, what a doozy we have here. "Beyond the Door" (also known as "Chi sei" and "The Devil Within Her") has Juliet Mills as a San Francisco woman who becomes pregnant with a Devil child, which puts a hamper on her otherwise bourgeois West coast existence. She also becomes apparently possessed, and does a lot of really wacky and scary stuff.

A low budget, unabashed riff on "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby," "Beyond the Door" is one of the weirdest offerings in the possession horror sub genre of the 1970s, and despite its unashamed ripping off of about every possession film up to that point, there are still moments of technical flair and genuine creepiness here. An Italian production, the film was directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis, who at times seems to be tapping into surrealism with the moody and at times disorienting camera-work; as some other reviewers have said, there are things about this film that are very much dreamlike. Take for example, the first five minutes: we have a sea of candles appear on screen, with overhead narration by none other than Satan himself; the camera pans to the right, as Juliet Mills inexplicably stands amidst the candles in a white nightgown, wearing a brainwave monitor. Three minutes later, we have a random montage of Mills grocery shopping in the bay area set to a hokey funk track by Sid Wayne. Surrealist horror, or funk rock music video? I don't even know, nor do I want to begin answering that.

The film suffers tremendously from godawful dubbing, and Mills' foul-mouthed children who look about ten but talk like nineteen-year-olds bring some terribly laughable lines, while the bulk of the dialogue between the family is utterly brainless chatter. Despite all silliness, the real treat of this film lies in the execution of the possession scenes which, despite their derivation, are really well-done and at times genuinely scary. Juliet Mills does a commendable job with the script and is convincingly frightening as she transforms into a complete monster. There are some surprisingly out-there twists in the script that will leave you scratching your head, but also work in favor of the "surrealist horror" train of thought on the film (funk rock music video is still a solid choice though, just for the opening credits alone).

Overall, "Beyond the Door" is a divisive film because it has moments of acute technical success and truly spooky moments, but it's also horribly dubbed, generally badly acted, and the plot is a rehash of the decade's earlier possession films with some absurd twists thrown in for good measure. As I said before, it is worth a watch for Mills' possession alone, and for the borderline surrealist filmmaking on display, but the undertone of utter silliness rarely escapes the screen. 6/10.

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