SHOCK aka BEYOND THE DOOR II (1977) Reviews and Arrow Blu-ray news

 

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Mario Bava‘s 1977 Italian film Shock will be released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on January 17th 2022.

The film has been newly restored in 2K from the original 35mm camera negative with both Italian and English credit sequences. It includes restored lossless mono Italian (with newly-translated English subtitles) and English audio. Special features:

Audio commentary by Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark author Tim Lucas (new)
Interview with co-writer/uncredited co-director Lamberto Bava (new)
Interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti (new)
Interview with critic Alberto Farina (new)
The Devil Pulls the Strings – Video essay by critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (new)
Shock! Horror!: The Stylistic Diversity of Mario Bava – Video appreciation by critic Stephen Thrower (new)
Italian theatrical trailer
Four Beyond the Door II TV spots
Image gallery
New cover artwork by Christopher Shy, with the original poster on the reverse side.
A slipcover featuring the alternate US title, Beyond the Door II.

Meanwhile, here’s our previous coverage of the movie:

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‘A new look at the face of evil’

Shock is a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Mario Bava (Baron Blood; Lisa and the DevilKill, Baby… Kill!; Blood and Black Lace; Black Sunday) from a screenplay co-written by Lamberto Bava (also uncredited co-director, Demons), Gianfranco Barberi [as Francesco Barbieri] (A Bay of Blood), Alessandro Parenzo [as Paolo Brigenti] and Dardano Sacchetti (The Beyond). Produced by Turi Vasile (Day of the Cobra; Killer Fish).

The Laser Film production stars Daria Nicolodi (Tenebrae; Deep Red), John Steiner (Tenebrae), David Colin, Jr. (Beyond the Door) and Ivan Rassimov (Man from Deep River).

The soundtrack score was composed by prog-rock band Libra.

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Plot:

Dora Baldini (Daria Nicolodi), her son Marco (David Colin Jr.) and her second husband Bruno Baldini (John Steiner) move into Dora’s former home, from her first marriage, after she is released from a mental institution following the mysterious death of her abusive first husband.

With Bruno away as a commercial airline pilot, Dora is left along with her troubled son Marco and her shattered memory of the events of her husband’s death, caused by extensive electroshock treatment she received while institutionalised. Her insanity grows when she believes that her son has become possessed by the ghost of his deceased father…

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For its US release, Film Ventures International retitled the film Beyond the Door II, under the guise of it being a sequel to Ovidio G. Assonitis‘ 1974 film Chi sei?, which was titled Beyond the Door for its stateside release. The only connection between the two films was the fact that they both starred child actor David Colin Jr.

For its UK cinema release, Shock was paired with The Blood Spattered Bride with an early 80s video release following on Vampix.

Reviews:

” …Shock is remarkably restrained in the bloodletting department. In fact, some of the most disquieting moments are entirely bloodless: the finding of the ceramic hand; the mutilation of a doll; Daria Nicolodi’s hair writhing like Medusa’s snakes; and surely only Mario Bava could make a slinky so disturbing. The film’s recurrent hand imagery is brilliantly used, and is as fascinating as is it repulsive.” And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

” …very stylish and creepy, with terrific prowling camera work, a good story, and a few segues into gothic horror territory […] With several bouts of twists and shocks lining the last twenty-five minutes, there’s definitely an exceptional payoff at the end that always leaves this viewer satisfied, and Nicolodi is a fantastic lead.” At the Mansion of Madness

Shock is a slow-burning horror film crossed with a distressing psychological study of the effects of domestic abuse, trauma and guilt on one woman’s mental health. It benefits from a limited cast, a truly striking performance from Daria Nicolodi, moody location and compelling storytelling. A fitting final film from one of the most influential, imaginative genre directors in the history of horror and fantasy cinema.” Behind the Couch

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Bava was always the master of ingenious camera effects, and he and Spagnoli created some stunning moments, most famously the gag that The Prodigy paid homage to last year […] It’s stunning, and a fast reminder that even near the end, no one could compose a shot like Bava.” Daily Dead

“Though not completely flawless, Shock is an offbeat and genuinely suspenseful psychological thriller with more than enough interesting touches and genuine scares to make it worth watching… and (no pun intended) a truly shocking finale!” Digital Retribution

“A queasy kind of horror it’s conjured up from the boy’s precocious displays, whether lying on top of his mother on the lawn or gloating over her as he takes as she takes a shower.… Moments like this are masterfully contrived, and the same applies to a couple of shock appearances from the deceased Carlo and the barnstorming climax […] but other scenes are less persuasive. A laughing piano lit in one of Dora’s nightmares was an effect best left unattempted…” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema

Buy Euro GothicAmazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

” …lacks the imaginative visual style of prior Bava films, the director knows his way around a suspense sequence, so the picture does an okay job of conveying Dora’s paranoia. There’s also a fun twist at the end, somewhat in the vein of Edgar Allan Poe. That said, the movie is rushed and superficial.” Every ’70s Movie

Shock is a disappointingly uneven film, a collection of imaginative ideas that somehow fails to develop into an involving narrative. Though written and co-directed by Lamberto Bava, the elder filmmaker’s cinematic obsessions are readily apparent […] but the work is curiously unpolished. The camera movements (all storyboarded, as usual, by Mario Bava) are well-orchestrated but Alberto Spagnoli’s lighting is flat, lacking the sinuous beauty that one normally associates with Bava’s work.” Troy Howarth, The Haunted World of Mario Bava

A claustrophobic gut punch that drags the viewer straight down into the mind of a woman going mad, the film features a few bloody concessions to the ’70s horror market but also remains a beautifully crafted, psychologically devastating little chamber piece, not to mention a strangely appropriate final feature for the maestro.” Mondo Digital

“The film contains some wonderfully psychedelic and mind-bending flashback scenes brought on the latent effects of LSD and the damage done by the electroshock.  As Marco grows darker and meaner Dora grows delirious and demented culminating in one heck of a rough ending.” The Scariest Things

” …the story, predictable and uninspired, lets it down. Fortunately, Nicolodi’s panicky histrionics keep the excitement level high: never mind the reassurances of Bruno or her psychiatrist, we know that she’s not making it up. What we don’t know is the reason for the haunting, although you probably have a good idea. The film may be patchy, but when it’s at its best it’s very effective indeed…” The Spinning Image

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Some rather unsubtle product placement for J&B whisky!

” …the main reason that this film works is because of Daria Nicolodi. Bava was never known for being a great director of actors but, for this film, he managed to capture one of the best performances in the history of horror cinema. In the role of Dora, Nicolodi is like an exposed nerve. It’s impossible not to sympathize with her…” Through the Shattered Lens

Shock contains all the stylish sequences we’ve come to expect […] as well as a handful of disturbingly graphic sequences. Although this may not appeal to all horror fans due to its slow-moving nature, Nicolodi is in fine form and the finale is a perfectly orchestrated buildup to individual insanity.” The Terror Trap

“While the flick may have several weaknesses, it does have an undeniable hypnotic charm that holds your attention even when things are getting particularly slow going.  The gore, when it comes, is solid […]  Shock may not be the swan song you would hope for from the master but it still has its fair share of memorable moments…” The Video Vacuum

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Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

“For once, Bava’s vivid imagery and wild camerawork are used to describe complex emotional reality, not physical or narrative reality, and so his techniques are much more effective. Many fans consider this to be Bava’s best and I agree, though Black Sunday is hard to top.” Mike Mayo, Videohound’s Horror Show book

Buy DVD: Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com

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Cast and characters:

Daria Nicolodi … Dora Baldini
John Steiner … Bruno Baldini
David Colin Jr. … Marco
Ivan Rassimov … Doctor Aldo Spidini
Lamberto Bava … Mover / Airplane Passenger (uncredited)
Paul Costello … Obnoxious man at party (uncredited)
Nicola Salerno … Carlo (uncredited)

Technical credits:

95 minutes
Eastmancolor
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Mono – Westrex Sound System

Notes:

Shock was Mario Bava’s last film. He died of a heart attack in April 1980.

Beyond the Door III aka Amok Train came along in 1989 but has no connection with the original or this film beyond its title. A sequel with a genuine link to the original, Beyond the Door: Embryo, will be released in 2022.

More Italian movies

Watch the Italian trailer on YouTube

Japanese trailer:

Soundtrack score:

Suggested double-bill:

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‘Suddenly she could see into the future… and saw her own murder…’

The Psychic is a 1977 Italian mystery film about a clairvoyant woman who discovers a skeleton in a wall in an old villa owned by her husband. Becoming obsessed, she tries to find the truth about what happened to the twenty-five-year-old female victim. Also known as Seven Notes in Black and Murder to the Tune of the Seven Black Notes

Directed by Lucio Fulci (House By the Cemetery; The Beyond; The Black Cat; Zombie Flesh Eaters) from a story and screenplay co-written with Roberto Gianviti and Dardano Sacchetti. Produced [uncredited] by Franco Cuccu. The soundtrack score was composed by Franco Bixio, Fabio Frizzi and Vince Tempera.

The Cinecompany production stars Jennifer O’Neill, Gabriele Ferzetti, Marc Porel, Gianni Garko, Evelyn Stewart and Jenny Tamburi.

New Blu-ray release:

In the UK, Shameless will release The Psychic on Blu-ray on August 9, 2021.

Touching Fate: A new exclusive interview of Antonella Fulci about ‘The Psychic’
Daddy Dearest: An interview with Antonella Fulci about her father Lucio Fulci
The restoration process for The Psychic – showing different stages
Escape from Doom: An interview with writer Dardano Sacchetti on working with Fulci
Behind the Wall: An interview with Fabio Frizzi on scoring The Psychic (the music later used by Tarantino)

Plot:

In October 1959, in Dover, England, a woman commits suicide by leaping from a cliff. At the same time, her daughter Virginia, living in Florence, Italy, sees her mother’s death in a vision.

In the present day, an adult Virginia (Jennifer O’Neill) lives near Rome, Italy and has married a rich Italian businessman Francesco Ducci (Gianni Garko). Ducci leaves on a business trip, and as Virginia drives herself away from the airport after seeing him off, experiences more visions: she sees an old woman murdered, a wall being torn down and a letter hidden beneath a statue.

Virginia plans to renovate an abandoned mansion her husband has purchased but notices that the building resembles one she has seen in her visions. She tears down a wall in one room, finding a skeleton behind the plaster. Assuming the skeleton is that of the woman in her vision, Virginia contacts the police; however, they do not believe her story and charge Ducci with the killing…

Reviews:

“Fulci called this film mechanical, correctly alluding to the closed nature of the narrative. For all its pleasures The Psychic keeps its audience at bay with a highly selective, manipulative disclosure of information. We may think our ability to guess the villain’s identity makes us active participants in the diegetic process, but we are in fact kept very much in the dark about salient features of the plot. […] Despite such restrictions, however, this elegantly constructed murder mystery confirms Fulci as a director of skill and sophistication, more than able to deal with complex narratives…” Stephen Thrower, Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci, FAB Press, 2018 (revised expanded edition)

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Buy Beyond TerrorAmazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

“It builds its story from disparate elements and said story remains unambiguous despite the ambiguity upon which it’s constructed […] The most ludicrous visual we get is of a dummy having its plastic head bashed repeatedly off a cliffside. The film’s weakest point, ironically enough, is O’Neill.” The Gentlemen’s Blog to Midnite Cinema

” …an extremely well-made effort in which the director manages to restrain himself considerably in terms of brutality and blood, yet still come up with something which is very chilling and even downright harrowing in its final act. It’s probably a film that many critics would praise very highly if it were better known and not from a director chiefly associated with gruesome horror movies.” Horror Cult Films

“In Fulci’s hands, the film is slow and dull. He characteristically has little interest in plot and the film plods along at an indifferent pace – it takes Jennifer O’Neill more than half the film to work out that she is having a vision of something that has yet to happen rather than of the past, for instance. Everything arrives at an abrupt and downbeat ending that the film has borrowed from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat (1843).” Moria

“With a moody score by Fulci regular Fabio Frizzi and some beautiful framing by Fulci’s go-to cameraman Sergio Salvati, The Psychic makes for a dreamlike sensory experience. But unlike many Italian genre movies of the period, The Psychic is a rarity in boasting a plot that actually makes sense and is easy to keep track of.” The Movie Waffler

The Psychic is an amazing film from maestro, Lucio Fulci. I can’t think of another giallo quite like it and although it’s not up to the standards of a Lizard in a Woman’s Skin or Tenebre, it still conjures up copious amounts of mystery and suspense. […]. There’s so much exposition that the film inevitably shows a lack of characterization, but giallo fans surely won’t mind that whatsoever.” Oh, the Horror!

The image of striking past the surface layers of a room are easy to comprehend (if no less effective) metaphors for the need for characters to tear down or look past the walls of perception […] Jennifer O’Neill at first appears wooden in her performance but this sense of aloof self-interest is organic to the character…” SGM

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“The only downside is the lack of bodily destruction might turn the “Fulci gorehounds” off. The cinematography is outstanding, probably some of Fulci’s best. Fans of Lizard in a Woman’s Skin will greatly enjoy this, but like I said, I doubt the more gore hungry viewers will be entertained. As for me, I found it to be a little long and drawn out, but it kept my interest the whole time.” Sins of Cinema

“Despite Fulci’s criticism that it suffers from a mechanical narrative, the story and structure of the film is immensely satisfying. The use of fragmented visions assailing the heroine harkens back to the traumatic event that haunts the deranged killer in Mario Bava’s Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970), and Fulci’s stylistic use of sharp zoom-ins to her eyes conveys a sense of entering into the character’s frame-of-mind.” Troy Howarth, Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films, Midnight Marquee Press, 2015

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Buy Splintered Visions: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

“Bewilderment, fortitude, courage and when the script demands, extreme fright: O’Neill meets each challenge, turning her emotions on and off like a tap and when those visions and flashbacks occur, it’s almost as if a gun had gone off directly behind her. The script – a collaboration between Fulci, Roberto Gianviti and Dardano Sacchetti – must have been a joy to work with…” The Spinning Image

“More of a mystery-thriller (and quite restrained for goremeister Lucio), there are some neat twists in this modest (and surprisingly coherent) effort.” The Terror Trap

“Visually, the film uses some great locations to their best advantage and the slow pace results in a foreboding tone that makes everything (and everyone) seem a little more sinister. There is a great score that repeats throughout the film and reveals itself at all the right moments. I am not used to seeing Fulci focus so much on plot and characters in a movie…” The Video Graveyard

Choice dialogue:

Francesco Ducci: “Darling, why don’t you forget this ugly story?”

Gloria Ducci: “I’ve had fifty-six lovers and haven’t killed even one of them.”

Virginia Ducci: “Would you, just for once, shut your spoiled foul mouth?”

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Cast and characters:

Jennifer O’Neill … Virginia Ducci
Gabriele Ferzetti … Emilio Rospini
Marc Porel … Luca Fattori
Gianni Garko … Francesco Ducci
Evelyn Stewart … Gloria Ducci
Jenny Tamburi … Bruna
Fabrizio Jovine … Commissioner D’Elia
Riccardo Parisio Perrotti … Melli
Loredana Savelli … Giovanna Rospini
Salvatore Puntillo … Second Cab Driver
Bruno Corazzari … Canevari
Vito Passeri … Caretaker
Franco Angrisano … First Cab Driver (as Francesco Angrisano)
Veronica Michielini … Giuliana Casati
Paolo Pacino … Inspector Russi
Fausta Avelli … Virginia as a Girl
Elizabeth Turner … Virginia’s Mother
Ugo D’Alessio … Art Gallery Owner
Luigi Diberti … Judge

Technical details:

97 minutes
Telecolor
Audio: Mono
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

Fun facts:

The Tamil-language Indian film Nooravathu Naal (1984) is apparently an unofficial remake. Nooravathu Naal was then remade twice, as Aayiram Kannukal (1986) and 100 Days (1991).

In the early 1990s, American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino announced that he would be directing a remake with Bridget Fonda in the lead role. The project failed to come to fruition, however, Tarantino later used the titular seven-note theme song in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003).

Trailer:

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