Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Beyond the Door III (1989)

... aka: Amok Train
... aka: Dark Train
... aka: Death Train
... aka: Evil Train
... aka: Train, The
... aka: Winds of Evil

Directed by:
Jeff Kwitny

Seven L.A. coeds take a "once in a lifetime" trip to Yugoslavia to witness an ancient Balkan rite. Among them is the unsullied Beverly (Mary Kohnert) who has bad premonitions about the trip and the "sign of the pagan virgin" birthmark on her stomach. After arriving overseas, some evil Serbian residents in a small town they are staying at attack them. Beverly is felt up while sleeping by a white-eyed toothless old woman who cackles, "Virgin!" The survivors board a possessed train and are slaughtered en route to delivering Beverly to her destiny. Watchable and interesting in spots, with good cinematography and location work, but also horribly acted (I mean horribly acted), senseless and irritating. To make matters worse, most of the gore scenes have been carelessly trimmed out of the U.S. release (at least the VHS release; I haven't seen the DVD), resulting in some jagged editing cuts. On the plus side, there's an excellent steel beam decapitation (plus some other fairly good gore effects), a decent ending and Savina Gersak is fun in the film's sole standout performance as a cigar chomping stowaway. Name value star Bo Svenson is miscast as a Serbian professor, but does a fair job with his role (and accent).

Despite the title, this film has nothing to do with the other Beyond the Door films as they've all just been re-titled for American distribution. The first (made in 1974) was a standard Exorcist rip-off with Juliet Mills going the Linda Blair route, the second (made in 1977) was a Mario Bava possession shocker better known as Shock and starring Daria Nicolodi as mother to a child who seems to be possessed by the spirit of her dead husband. This one was originally called either Amok Train or just The Train and was re-named. Not surprisingly, Ovidio G. Assonitis (who was partially responsible for The Curse non-"series" of films, as well) was the executive producer.


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