Beyond the Seventh Door, 1987 – ★★★★

I was put onto this film by a friend who caught it totally at random and immediatley knew it would be my kind of party….and man oh man, she was NOT wrong.

Beyond the Seventh door is a…strange STRANGE canuxsploitation flick that seemingly had it’s biggest circulation on cable TV in the late 80’s and early 90’s, it was shot on film, edited on tape and as such is often mixed in with the SOV subgenre. Though i’d argue this is more filmic than a lot of the SOV fodder thats out there.

The plots ultra simple, a guy named Boris gets released from a stint in prison for robbery, he meets back up with an old flame called Wendy who wants nothing to do with him, promising that he’s changed his ways and that he’s getting out of the business after just ONE last job.

He wants Wendy to act as an insider at her place of work, a castle owned by a certain ‘Lord Breston’. Breston has apparently been maintaining and protecting a HUGE fortune in treasure within his family for the best part of 200 years, and Boris wants Wendy to give him an ‘In’ late at night so that he can find the treasure and quit his life of crime, taking Wendy with him so they can start anew as multi multi multi millionairs.

What Boris didnt back on is that ‘Lord Breston’ has hidden the tresure at the end of a series of trap filled puzzle rooms, and in order to secure the fortune, they’ll have to work together with little to no hints in order to solve all 6 rooms (and the final seventh puzzle) to escape with the treasure…and their lives.

and, I cant in good faith say that this is a particularly well made film, but what it lacks in technical and written ability it more than makes up for in little eccentric flourishes that really helped keep me on board.

The scripts SUPER basic. The whole film runs to only 76 minutes and at least 15 minutes of that is titles and credits or our cast slowly wandering around set spaces or just…emoting to camera. each new scene is best described as ‘They walk into a room and the entrance closes up behind them, they’re given a puzzle, they say ‘WE CANT SOLVE THIS!’…they try to solve it and fail (nearly dying in the process), they try again and succeed, they move into the next room, scene resets’

Thats the whole movie. and had this film been ANY more professionally shot, this would have been a TERRIBLE movie. But the eccentricity of the cast and director combined with a lot of onset stresses has transformed this repetition into something all together much more interesting.

What I need to do here is detour slightly on my thoughts on the script to explain that…our main cast consist of two people, and our entire cast only comes to about 4-6 people. and every. single. one of them is ABSOLUTELY nuts.

You have ‘Lazar Rockwood’ (his actual name) an actor who claims that you can learn to be a master actor by studying cats. he plays our leading man ‘Boris’ in this thing, in a role that was SPECIFICALLY written with him in mind. and when I tell you that this guy is basically 80’s Tommy Weisau, I mean that in EVERY sense of the word. the guys a total out and out eccentric and his performance is completley and utterly mesmorising, as he hams his way through 99% of the film chewing through the scenery as if he hadnt eaten in years. his performance is delightfully daffy, manic and just…plain ODD for lack of a better expression.

He’s easily this films absolute saving grace, I think he’s amazing whenever he’s on screen and I think, having JUST watched this film, I could happily sit through the whole thing again just for him.

Bonnie Beck as Wendy is also playing things very melodramatic, but theres an awkward stiffness to her performance, which is only exasserbated when Lazar goes off on one completely at random. The two work together about as well as lemon juice and milk. and it’s HILARIOUS to me to learn that the guy in this who plays ‘Lord Breston’ was going out with Beck at the time, he was a lawyer who CONSTANTLY had arguements with the director about what he felt Bonnie should and shouldnt be doing AND he had a PAINFUL dislike of Lazar. which made the scenes where Lazar had to caress and kiss Bonnies theighs all the more horrendous for all involved.

This frictions spilt out to the crew too, who were having long arguements with the director about how the film should be shot (all while tremendously running overtime and over budget)

Oh! and for some reason a chap called Ben Kurr has a cameo in this thing…apparently he was a street performer who was renowned for his ultra positive attitude and 30+ year attempt to become mayor or Toronto. he just rocks up in this film for like…10 minutes and then leaves. *Shrugs*

ANYWAY! the reason I mention this is because, while this films script is super basic, it’s the flourishes the cast bring to their roles that really help sell this thing. they both just….have a way with the crumby dialogue to make it always sound just…hilarious. Everything is SUPER awkward, poorly paced out, the tones all over the place. but this gaggle of eccentric characters are SO watchable, it almost negates any of the poor technical choices.

The closest thing I can compare the script to this film to is the old ‘adventure gameshows’ of the 80s and 90s such as ‘The Crystal Maze’, ‘Fort Boyard’ or to a lesser extent ‘Legends of the hidden temple’ It feels like they took the gameshow mechanic of those shows, but instead of just having ‘Joe Public’ take part, they scripted the ‘member of the public’ element and turned it into a movie.

You’d expect, given the explanation, that the style would be similar to something like ‘Cube’ or the ’13 Ghosts’ remake. But no. this literally does just feel like a slightly better shot TV episode of one of these adventure gameshows.

Beyond that, what more can I honestly say? The direction and cine are *technically* above average for the SOV genre. maybe a little on the low end for a film production. Given the rucus going on behind the scenes its amazing the film turned out the way it did, and it’s nice to see a low budget film have SO much spirit. Like…they have water filled pits, random mystery elevators that spring out of nowhere, a spikey ceiling drop sequence. There’s a LOT of really cool and novel moments that happen here that you just dont see in low budget film making.

Throw in a SUPER cheap, but…oddly compelling synth score and a 3rd act plot twist that is quite frankly jawdropping. and…This isnt really a *clever* movie. But it is a movie that I felt absolutely at home with, something I could easily see myself putting on as a comfort watch in future and something I could absolutely recommend checking out.

Its a nippy, lumpy little movie that has a HELL of a lot of heart and seems to be genuinely trying to entertain…and I have a lot of time for movies like that.


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