Release Date(s)1987 (October 31, 2017)
Studio(s)Marvan Films (Severin Films/Intervision Corp)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: C+
The Canuxploitation rage throughout the 1980s and 1990s harbored a number of low budget schlockers, many shot on video, and all piled onto U.S. rental shelves with interesting or even outrageous VHS artwork. Underground writer/director B.D. Benedikt had a hand in a few of these titles, including the forgotten but not gone forever Beyond the Seventh Door starring Lazar Rockwood, a Yugoslavian-born actor who could be interpreted as the Tommy Wiseau of his day. In a plot reminiscent of films like Cube or Saw, which were on the horizon at the time of this film’s release, two people intent on stealing a rich man’s money are subjected to a number of rooms wherein they must solve puzzles in order to survive.
What you have to give the filmmakers for on Beyond the Seventh Door is creativity. While not technically a horror movie, they predicted a certain type of subgenre long before it ever existed. They also managed to get a couple of moments of genuine suspense squeezed into the film’s 77-minute running time. The odd, sometimes awkward performance of Rockwood, however, isn’t quite bizarre enough to combat the film’s extremely slow pace. A better title would have been “In Real Time: The Movie”, as much of it is excruciatingly drawn out. But, to its credit, it does a lot with a little, and some of the puzzles actually have some creativity built into them. To top it off, the film also comes with a twist ending, which I have to admit I wasn’t expecting at all.
Intervision Corp’s DVD presentation of Beyond the Seventh Door is VHS-sourced, although it appears to have been shot on film in some capacity, judging by the occasional speckling. That said, it’s a fine presentation with good color reproduction and contrast. A couple of times a brief, thin tape blip rolled up along the screen, but hardly interfered with the film at all. Otherwise, there was no warping or discoloration to be had. Most of Intervision’s shot-on-video DVD catalogue usually has an overt NTSC signal look to it, whereas this release does not. Take from that what you will. The audio is presented as an English 2.0 Dolby Digital track with no subtitle options. Like the video presentation, it’s pleasant as well with good dialogue reproduction, mild sound effects, and decent score heft, which is synth-driven. It’s also well-balanced without any real distortion, stretching, or other tape-related issues.
This release also comes with a couple of new extras, including an audio commentary with writer/director B.D. Benedikt and actor Lazar Rockwood, moderated by Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com, which covers some of the film’s production, even highlighting a scene that was ultimately cut out. Also included are two interview segments: Beyond Beyond the 7th Door, also with Benedikt, Rockwood, and Corupe, which speaks to each subject separately and covers what they’re doing nowadays (including a moment from Rockwood explaining to the interviewer about the process of acting that must be seen to be believed), and The King of Cayenne, which separately interviews Canadian writer and radio personality Jaymz Bee and video archivist Ed Conroy about street performer Ben Kerr, who appears in the film.
In complete honesty, your tolerance of Beyond the Seventh Door will entirely depend on the amount of patience that you can exercise to get through it. It’s an interesting film, to be sure, and I can see it reaching cult status amongst enthusiasts, but it’s more of an intriguing curiosity more than a lost gem. That said, Intervision Corp and Severin Films have presented the film in the best way possible on DVD with excellent cover art and attention-grabbing extras to boot.
- Tim Salmons