Saturday, October 24, 2020

Ten Days of Terror!: Shock/Beyond the Door II

Films: Shock/Beyond the Door II
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on the new internet machine.

Beyond the Door was a movie that was clearly designed to attract the same audience as The Exorcist. The plot was similar in a lot of ways, but it was a cheap knock off, about as scary as one of my chihuahuas. A few years later, we got Beyond the Door II, which was so exploitative that the only thing it had in common with the first movie was the child actor. In truth, the movie was also released as Shock, so it’s not entirely a cashgrab.

We’re going to be focused on Dora Baldini (Daria Nicolodi), who has moved back into her old house with her son Marco (David Colin Jr.) and her new husband Bruno (John Steiner). It turns out this is a house she lived in before, with her first husband, Carlo (Nicola Salerno). While Dora was pregnant with Marco, Carlo became abusive and addicted to heroin, and was thought to have committed suicide when his boat was found abandoned and adrift. Dora ended up in an asylum, treated with electroshock therapy. It’s seven years later, Carlo has been declared legally dead after being missing for seven years. And now, with her shattered memory, she has returned remarried.

Of course, things start off crazy right away. Marco starts acting strangely immediately and also seems to be constantly drawn to the basement. Dora starts having strange experiences as well, and seems to think that Marco is behind some of them. Things really go off the rails when Marco accuses Dora of killing her former husband, which triggers a memory of her killing him with a boxcutter after he forces her to take LSD and heroin. As things continue spiraling out of control, Dora becomes convinced that Marco is being possessed by the spirit of her dead husband.

Shock (honestly, the much more appropriate name for this) is a Mario Bava film, which means that it’s going to be pretty to look at, have a few really visually interesting moments, and not make a great deal of sense. There are some really good surprise moments. As Dora’s sanity continues to spiral out of control and the link between her dead husband, current husband, and son continue to connect and splinter, there is one absolute peach of a shot. Marco sees his mother and runs to her, but as he does, he turns into his dead father. It’s a seamless switch made essentially by having the kid run just out of the frame of the camera and replacing him with the other actor, but it looks great and is incredibly effective.

The rest of this, though, is very much a giallo. There’s a lot of red paint used to represent blood, a funky soundtrack, and things that happen that don’t always make a lot or any sense. It has very much the sense of feeling like a film designed to make a quick buck. In Mario Bava’s defense, the Beyond the Door II name was given to the movie for its American release in an attempt to capitalize on the first Beyond the Door movie. For as much as Bava dealt with exploitation film, that one wasn’t his fault.

The real problem with this is that there simply isn’t a great deal to say about it. There are weird psychological moments that might (and probably do, based on the ending) have some supernatural connection. Dora has a lot of very odd dreams that don’t make sense, but do put us in the position of not always knowing if she is really dreaming. And the ending comes completely out of nowhere.

I know that Italian horror films are something that a lot of people really like, but I really struggle with the appeal. They’re pretty and they often have great soundtracks, but they make about as much sense as a flavored suppository.

Why to watch Beyond the Door II/Shock: A few very inventive moments.
Why not to watch: It makes as much sense as most Mario Bava films.


  1. I think I'd want to see this in its original form as I haven't seen anything or little by Mario Bava.

    1. Bay of Blood is really influential--there are scenes lifted shot-for-shot from it for the first Friday the 13th. Blood and Black Lace doesn't make a ton of sense, but it's gorgeously shot.

      Black Sunday has one of the greatest horror movie openings ever.