• Beyond The Door III (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: October 29th, 2019.
    Director: Jeff Kwitney
    Cast: Mary Kohnert, Bo Svenson, Victoria Zinny, Savina Gersak, Sarah Conway Ciminera, William Geiger
    Year: 1989
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Beyond The Door III – Movie Review:

    Beyond The Door III, directed by Jeff Kwitney for producer Ovidio Assonitis in 1989 and also known as Amok Train, opens with a sequence in which a group of robed cult members conduct an arcane ritual. From here, we cut to the Los Angeles of 1989 where we meet mild mannered college girl Beverly Putnic (Mary Kohnert). She’s part of a group of students that are going to go to Yugoslavia as part of their school’s cultural exchange program and, while there, witness a passion play that is, of course, far more than it seems.

    Beverly’s weirdo mother (Victoria Zinny) let’s her daughter know that she’s actually got roots in that part of the world – her father immigrated from there years ago, and Beverly is looking forward to exploring this aspect of her life. Shortly after, mommy dearest is done away with and Beverly and her fellow students, under the guidance of Professor Andromolek (Bo Svenson), wind up in a creepy village in a remote part of the country where – much to their surprise – the locals try to kill them off! Not everyone makes it out alive, but most of them do by hopping on a train that conveniently arrives just in time to whisk them off to safety – except it isn’t really safety at all! See, someone’s got plans for Beverly, and those plans involve tying the knot with ol’ Scratch himself! Before you know it there’s witchy stuff going on all over the place, the train itself has become possessed and a bunch of people die!

    This one is pretty bonkers, but it makes for a really fun watch, particularly if you’ve got an appreciation for horror movies set on trains (Is trainsploitation a thing? It should be). A sequel in name only to the 1974 possession film that Assonitis co-directed with Robert Barrett, it’s a genuinely bizarre mix of bloody murder set pieces, weird occultists, kooky plot elements that come out of left field and genuinely awesome cinematography from Adolfo Bartoli. In fact, due in no small part to Bartoli’s important contributions to the visuals here, the movie winds up being pretty atmospheric in spots, even when things are going crazy in terms of the narrative. The production values aren’t perfect, mind you – the use of miniature trains is clearly just that, and it is never even close to convincing – but there’s a definite sense of visual style to all of this that is, at the very least, quite admirable. Carlo Maria Cordio synth-heavy score is also noteworthy and, well, unique.

    The performances are all over the place, but Bo Svenson is his generally reliable self here and Mary Kohnert, who popped up on a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, is decent enough as the female lead.

    Beyond The Door III – Blu-ray Review:

    Beyond The Door III arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and taken from a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative. It’s a great transfer of what could have been some tricky material, given the scenes with a lot of fog and smoke in them and the frequently dark interiors used for the shoot. Thankfully, the picture quality here delivers. Detail is strong throughout and colors look great. There are no problems with noticeable compression nor are there any issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement – this looks like film. Skin tones are fine, contrast looks good, black levels are nice and deep. This is a pretty substantial improvement over the older Media Blasters DVD release – you’d expect it to be, of course, but the picture quality here is impressive.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track, which comes with optional English subtitles, is also strong. The score in particular gets a really strong boost over the older DVD mix, it has a lot more power behind it as do the sound effects. Dialogue stays clear and crisp and the levels are properly balanced. No issues here at all.

    The extras from the aforementioned DVD are no carried over to this Blu-ray release but Vinegar Syndrome has included a few exclusive supplements of their own, starting with Running Amok, a forty-minute video interview with director Jeff Kwitny that see him speaking about working at New Horizons, getting in touch with producer Assonitis and various projects he collaborated on with him, directing the slasher movie Iced in 1988 and then a year later working on Beyond The Door III. He talks about what it was like shooting on location in Yugoslavia in the late eighties and how dicey the political climate was at the time, what the different crew members he worked with were able to bring to the film and more. Also included her is A Long Walk to Yugoslavia, which is a great twenty-two-minute video interview with actor Bo Svenson. He speaks about how he enjoyed working on the film, his memories of working with the other cast members on the shoot, his thoughts on Kwitney as a director, and, as the title suggest, what it was like working in Yugoslavia on this picture. The third and final interview spends seven-minutes with cinematographer Adolfo Bartoli who speaks about his own relationship with Assonitis¸ doing second unit work for him and then becoming a cinematographer based on how those projects turned out, and then going on to work on a whole bunch of Full Moon films for Charles Band. All three of these interviews are well-done and quite interesting and they shed a lot of welcome light on the history of this decidedly odd film and those who made it.

    As to the packaging, we get some nice reversible cover artwork that’s worth pointing out. If you purchase the disc directly from Vinegar Syndrome (which you can do here), the first 2000 copies come with a very nice limited edition slipcover from Earl Kesller Jr (which has embossed nipples – is that a first?). As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie taken from the same restoration and featuring extras identical to those found on the Blu-ray disc.

    Beyond The Door III – The Final Word:

    Beyond The Door III is pretty bonkers stuff but it’s nothing if not entertaining and you’ve got to appreciate the cinematography and creative murder set pieces that highlight the picture. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release presents the film uncut and in great shape with some nice extra features accompanying the movie itself. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Beyond The Door III Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      Embossed Nipples would be a great band name.
    1. Scott's Avatar
      Scott -
      For some reason I always think this is a Filmirage production. It has all the symptoms. I like it. My favorite part is when (to quote wiki) "two students who escaped the train are eventually run over by it in a swamp as it jumps off its tracks and then returns to those same tracks undamaged and unslowed." Nutty film.