• Beyond The Seventh Door



    Released by: Intervision Picture Corp.
    Released on: October 17th, 2017.
    Director: B.D. Benedikt
    Cast: Lazar Rockwood, Bonnie Beck, Gary Freedman
    Year: 1987
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    The Movie:

    When we first meet the mullety denim demon that is Boris (Lazar Rockwood – who has the BEST name ever), he’s just been let out of prison. Like JUST been let out, we see him leave and then make his way to a café where he meets up with his pretty ex-girlfriend Wendy (Bonnie Beck). She’s not all together that happy to see him. They had a past once, but his penchant for bungling attempted robberies seems to keep landing him in the clink and she’s done with him. Or is she? Soon enough he’s convinced her to help him plan the robbery of boss, Lord Breston (Gary Freedman). He’s a wheelchair bound man who lives inside a castle – and since he likes to dress Wendy up in skimpy outfits and put his hands on her, she doesn’t really feel so much loyalty to the old pervert

    Before you know it, it’s nightfall and not wanting to waste any time, Boris and Wendy make their way to Breston’s castle. She gets them in, and he then manages to get through the lock on the door of an entrance that leads them into the bowels of the building. It’s here, Boris figures, that they’ll find his treasure. Once they make their way in, however, they find themselves locked in. It’s then that they hear Breston’s voice over the speakers that have been conveniently placed around the building. He tells them that the whole area is rigged with traps and in order to make it out alive, they’ll have to figure out the traps laid in each of the six rooms that lay ahead. If they can do this, they’ll get his treasure… or find out what lies behind the titular seventh door.

    What an odd film. Despite some creepy moments and genuinely cool atmosphere at times, this isn’t a horror film no matter how much the cover art might want you to think it is. There are moments where you wonder if it is going to head into Saw-type territory, but nope, it doesn’t happen. Instead, it’s a bit of a heist film mixed in with an unusual amount of puzzle solving shenanigans that preface Cube, another Canadian cult film made a few decades later. There’s a good amount of suspense here to make up for the fact that there’s really no character development at all, while the director’s admitted arthouse intentions manage to shine through occasionally despite the fact that this was made on the cheap using a camcorder.

    The film has a few things working in its favor. The first? Location, location, location. Using famous Toronto landmark Casa Loma (which has also popped up in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, X-Men and the mighty Strange Brew – and which served as the location use for that completely fucking shitty terrible fucking awful Rocky Horror Picture Show remake that was on TV last year – fuck that movie) to effectively convince us that we really are heading into a castle, Benedikt is then able to use different – and extremely effective – locations for the different rooms where the action plays out. True story about Casa Loma. When I lived in Toronto years ago my apartment was just two blocks away. One night, while out with some friends, I tried to pick up a girl by telling her that I lived in Casa Loma. She didn't believe me and it didn't work. At any rate, the movie is well edited enough that you’re never really aware that locations are changed frequently, and the puzzles that pose the challenges to our two characters are quite clever as well.

    The other big things? The cast. Bonnie Beck, who made her debut in the Toronto lensed AIDS/HIV themed slasher City In Panic, is genuinely good here. She emotes well, she’s attractive, she has rang – yeah, she does just fine. But Lazar Rockwood? My goodness gracious, what a strange performance. The man could best be described as Tommy Wiseau’s Canuckleheaded older brother. He shows here the same lack of awareness that made The Room so strangely watchable. Rockwood never goes as over the top but he’s definitely operating on the same astral plane. As Boris he’s just eminently watchable. His work here is odd in the best possible way – not specifically bad, just unique, and very strange, much like the movie itself.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Intervision brings Beyond The Seventh Door to DVD in a 1.33.1 fullframe transfer. The movie was shot on and edited on tape and as such, it looks like a VHS tape. As such, you need to keep your expectations in check given the source, but the image quality here is more than watchable. It’s soft, sure, but colors are okay and outside of the fact that it looks like a tape there aren’t really any issues here.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language Dolby Digital Mono track, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided here. Sound quality is okay, not great, but okay. Subtitles would have come in handy in a few spots but that didn’t happen. Thankfully most of the time the dialogue is clear enough and the track is properly balanced.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary featuring writer/director BD Benedikt, actor Lazar Rockwood and moderator Paul Corupe (of Canuxploitation.com). Lots of background information here from both participants, with Benedikt explaining what he did before making this movie, how he came to direct the film and how he and Rockwood got to know one another. Rockwood chimes in throughout, talking about how he got into acting, working with Benedikt who basically wrote the part for him, and how he got along with his co-star. There’s also talk here about the Toronto locations that were used, specifically Case Loma, as well as the shooting and editing of the picture, it’s distribution, other locations that doubled for the interiors of the castle exterior and quite a bit more. There are moments where the two quiet down a bit but Corupe manages to bring them back into the conversation any time this happens and the end result is a pretty interesting track that covers a lot of ground.

    Corupe, Benedikt and Lazar Rockwood also show up in an interview segment entitled Beyond Beyond The Seventh Door, which runs just under twenty-two minutes in length. This covers some of the same ground as the commentary track does but Benedikt specifically talks about what he’s been up to since the movie was made and details his attempts at a writing career. Rockwood offers up some rather interesting thoughts on the acting profession while Corupe discusses how he came to know the film and develop an appreciation for it. In The King of Cayenne: An Appreciation Of Legendary Toronto Eccentric Ben Kerr we spend nine minutes learning about Kerr, who passed away in 2005, a strange man with an affinity for street performance and singing who has a small part in the picture. An outspoken advocate for the health benefits of cayenne pepper, he led an interesting life to be sure.

    The Final Word:

    Note even close to the horror film that the cover art makes you think it is, Beyond The Seventh Door is nevertheless a fascinatingly odd thriller with some genuinely creative set pieces made all the more interesting by Lazar Rockwood’s otherworldly performance. Intervision Picture Corp. brings this genuine oddity to DVD in pretty nice shape and with some decent extras features that are both interesting and entertaining.





























    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      Now we're having a chance to see what if Tommy Wiseau were starred in Vincenzo Natali's Cube