08 February 2021

Beyond The Door

It’s safe to say Juliet Mills, who played the wholesome limey nanny of the 1970 ABC sitcom Nanny And The Professor, never kissed any of her three adolescent charges in that show the way she kisses her character Jessica’s son in Beyond The Door:
Beyond The Door is a 1975 Italian horror movie. . .so, yeah, it looks and sounds cheap, has the type of *huh?* script that invites the viewer to question it in nearly scene (example: Jessica, her husband and two pre-teen children live in a posh San Francisco apartment, and the Satanic attack they endure provokes such NOISE, furniture and other objects crashing around in rooms shaking with earthquake force, ear-splitting demonic laughter, children wailing, husband and wife screaming. . .but none of the neighbors ever bother to step out into the hallway to see what the fuck is going on in the madhouse that has become apartment 1508, or to ask them if they could tell Satan to please keep it down a little, people are trying to sleep and have to go to work in the morning!), poorly dubbed and poorly culturally translated (example: the greaseballs who made this flick try to capture ‘70s SanFran Americana by having Jessica’s 10 year old daughter speak in an absurdly foul-mouthed Manson-girl hippie-ese).

The film is an obvious rip-off of both Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, the convoluted plot as follows: Jessica is taken to a Satanic ceremony where she watches a nude girl writhe on an altar while listening to the whispers of the mysterious Dimitri, who we later learn has sold his soul to Satan. Jessica, sadly for the audience, runs away before being raped. Years later Jessica is living happily in San Francisco with her milquetoast husband and two brat kids when she learns she is pregnant. The pregnancy proceeds at hyper-speed with hyper-pain, which alarms Jessica’s doctor. . .but, not so much. Anyway, the baby, surprise!, is Satan’s, and Satan tells Dimitri if he goes to Frisco and makes sure the baby is born, he will extend his life. Why would powerful Satan need Dimitri’s help? It turns out he don’t, he just wants to fuck with Dimitri one last time before taking his soul.  Hey, Satan wants to have a few kicks, too!  Meanwhile, Jessica suffers all sorts of Linda Blair-type indignities while carrying Satan’s child. And. . .that’s pretty much it.

Yet despite the film’s ample limitations, I liked it back in 1975 when I first saw it, and I liked it last night when I watched it again for the first time in 46 years on Shudder. The film has a couple original creepy effects and enough random bizarre moments (Jessica’s simpering husband is hounded by a demonic trio of negro San Francisco street musicians, Jessica’s son gobbles green pea soup straight from the can, her daughter carries around multiple copies of Erich Segal’s Love Story) and interesting experimental shots and abrupt cuts to keep it in the mildly amusing *good* bad horror movie category.

And yet the highlight remains, at least for the boomer crowd, seeing Juliet Mills (looking like a proto Kirsten Dunst) playing a projectile vomiting whore of Satan. I watched Mills as the goody-goody Nanny when I was ten, and then at age 15 I see her floating in the air, face disfigured, legs spread-eagle, begging Dimitri to reach up and rip Satan’s baby from her snatch?? Pretty trippy back then, and throwback trippy, now! 

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