Shock (1977) - aka "Beyond the Door II": The great Italian director Mario Bava's last film is a strange and ultimately sad film that mixes murder and ghosts and possession to give a unique take on a horror film. Bruno (John Steiner) and Dora Baldini (Daria Nicolodi) move back into the house where Dora's first husband Carlo committed suicide seven years before by sailing out into the ocean never to be seen again. Coming with them is Dora's son Marco (David Colin Jr.) who is also seven years old so never met his father. Its a beautiful house but the boy seems more drawn to the creepy cellar early in the film. Bruno is supportive of Dora who is very nervous about moving back to the house. She had a nervous breakdown after Carlo's (Nicola Salerno) death and spent time in an asylum. So this is probably not the best place for her but she is making the best of it because Bruno has insisted. So early on you think this may be a story about learning what happened to Carlo and when strange things happen the viewer is left wondering if it is just Dora's mind slipping. We also learn that Bruno is an airline pilot so there will be times when just Dora and Marco at at the house.
It does not take long for the ghostly shenanigans to start, as the couple make love in the living room we get a shot of Marco seemingly in a trance chanting "pigs, pigs, pigs". The couple never see this so when Bruno heads off for a couple days away at work We see that Dora and Marco get some creepy. Marco makes his swing in the yard move from inside the house and we see a creepy dead hand touching Dora in her sleep. It does not take long for things to start going bad between Mother and Son. At a dinner party the kid says to his mother "Mama, I have to kill you." which really puts Dora on notice. Then later she finds a razor blade between the keys of her piano and discovers that her son has stolen and shredded a pair of her panties, yes things are sort of weird. The film plays the line that maybe something is up with the kid, while also implying that Dora could be losing her mind.
There are a couple of wonderfully frightful dream sequences in this film and each time the director does not let the viewer know that is what they are when they begin. There is also this mix of supernatural bleeding through from the dream world to the real world. The first has Dora threatened by a box cutter that is floating in the air, it cuts her nightgown and when she wakes screaming we see her nightgown is still cut. A great little piece of foreshadowing for the upcoming climax. Its this crossing of supernatural and reality that makes Dora's anxiety so believable. There is something going on and it definitely is not just in her head. Marco is surely possessed at times and seems to be trying to hurt his Mother, when he is in a trance furniture moves on its own, pictures fall from the walls and doors lock and unlock on their own. Marco does this bigger thing where he pins Bruno's picture to his swing, and when he pushes it we have cuts to Bruno in his plane losing control of it. Only when Dora stops the swing does Bruno get control back in flight. This really is the start of the third act where all the crazy shit comes together for a big reveal.
When the climax comes and it does with a hysteric spree, the plot twists and turns through screams bumps and hallucinations in a swirl of confusion. The answer to whether Carlo killed himself is answered as well as whether or not Dora did it. The last few scenes push us the tension so high the audience has to hold their breath to get to the end. It can't be said that this is a great movie, its not. What is it is a competent supernatural thriller with some cool tricks in the camera work, some unexpected plot twists and real ghosts.
Daria Nicolodi who was coupled with Dario Argento and the parents of Fiore and Asia Argento was co-writer of the script for Susperia (1977) an Argento classic. She claims that the story was inspired by real life experiences of her grandmother. "She went to study piano at an acclaimed music academy said Dora "And discovered that it was a front for the study of black magic."
This was Bava's last film and a good part of it was directed by the assistant director his son Lamberto Bava, who went on to have a good career in film also. In genre he is responsible for directing a couple of my favorites Demons and Demons 2.
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter
is dedicated to following and being followed by
people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them
follow me back. This film
being older who knows if anyone associated is on twitter. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a
promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs
but hey its an experiment. I am now following over 100 people while the
followers is only 15 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow
just anyone back. :)