Recently released from prison, ex-con Boris reaches out to his former lover, Wendy, to discuss the status of their relationship after her cold feet episode on a robbery job where she drives away the getaway car, leaving him red handed when the cops arrive. Wendy wants more than anything to live a normal, honest life and Boris aims to please her wishes, but needs to pull of one big job to set their future. Fortunately for him, Wendy happens to be the plaything of a wealthy paraplegic who owns a lustrous castle. Boris convinces Wendy to recon the inside, to find where the treasure might lay within the belly of the castle walls, and when the pair of thieves manage to break into the castle’s fortified basement, escaping is inevitable when a deadly game unravels. Trapped inside a chamber of terror, Boris and Wendy must go through a series of enigmatic riddles and deadly traps to move forward toward what they’ve broken into to steal, but when offered a chance to leave the game with their lives intact, will an acceptance to live be decided upon or will Boris and Wendy gamble for greed?
InterVision Picture Corp., has done it again with another stellar resurrection from the VHS video graveyard with the release and distribution of the Canadian gem “Beyond the Seventh Door.” The debut of B.D. Benedikt’s written and directed horror doesn’t display much of the elements associated with the horror genre with the exception of an acute dispersion of thrills and mystery; instead, Benedikt’s film breeds a mutt that commingles fear invoking atmospherics with the intensity of an unflinching, yet undetectable, moral essence that amusingly reestablishes the very Canadian stereotype of being too nice for the North American nation’s own good. The clearly expressed message of greed goes without saying in a plot that involves incurable thieves making life and death choices over materialistic riches despite the consequences that follow if to pursuing the latter. Another theme exposed is that working together will increase your chances to overcomes obstacles as Boris and Wendy mesh their strength and their smarts to solve puzzles and to escape traps before them and on the other end of the spectrum, going at the situation alone doesn’t work out for either one of them. The prominent themes intertwine effortlessly into a modest story that doesn’t become undercut by today’s inherent plot twists or fail to meet captivating interests as the themes are timeless and current as greed never goes out of style proven by the recent Oscar nominations for Ridley Scott’s drama “All the Money in the World.”
The cast quartet requires not one more soul to showpiece this Canadian cult classic. Leading the quaint pack is the Yugoslavian stud Lazar Rockwood and the rumors are true, Rockwood does look like the long time on screen villain Billy Drago, but Rockwood, as Boris, is no hard nose bad guy but along the lines of an anti-hero with his crooked conscious overtop a softer, tender heart for his past life lover Wendy. Bonnie Beck tackles Wendy as a woman pulled by two desires: her feelings for Boris and a normal life without lawlessness. Her more memorable scene consists of her stripping her red, thigh high skirt, exposing the lacy, black garter underneath, and comically trying to plug water spewing holes in order to not drown. Rockwood and Beck’s on screen chemistry doesn’t jive and, to be overly honest, their bond is substantially weak, but to embody and embrace a characterized scorn and torn twosome, the pair share a set ablaze with passion for accomplishment that oddly resembles Richard Chamberlain’s Allan Quartermain’s adventures sans the quirky comedic charm. Rockwood and Beck completely make up about 90 percent of the screen time as Gary Freedman, in his sole credit, dons the mysterious Castle owner and a local Canadian celebrity, a street performer, named Ben Kerr who only had to sit with his eyes open and act a corpse.
Modest as it was, “Beyond the Seventh Door’s” independent production couldn’t rival the end resulting magnitude of which the construction of the trap rooms and the characterization of the score would suggest a bigger wallet project, transforming that aforementioned simple story into a big ticket item. Behind the financial curtain is the responsible parties, the Herceg brothers Frank, Steve, and Tony and along with a fourth producer, Lubomir J. Novotny, Bozidar D. Benedikt gained the trust to pull off a no-budget thriller into a wild brain, catacomb horror that pre-dates the escape room element of “Cube” and Jigsaw’s lethally virtuous games. Now, I wouldn’t say “Beyond the Seventh Door” pioneered the genre, but merely had a minor influenced and sometimes that’s all it takes for inspiration.
Canada’s ambitious exploitation film “Beyond the Seventh Door” is now out for the first time every on DVD courtesy of InterVision Picture Corp., the sui generis distributor of rare independent genre films. Presented in a full screen 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the shot-on-video image quality retains an above VHS level quality with a clearer picture and refined details. BBlotchy moments are still prevalent, especially in long shots of Boris leaving the prison and walks along a cold path to the waterfront, but doesn’t kill the reflective moment. The audio 2.0 mono track has great clarity, range, and depth that showcases some of Lazar’s greatest lines of his hilariously read dialogue, such as “Screw you! You hear me, screw you!” The synthesized soundtrack emanates balanced LFE and range. There’s minor, but inconsequential, hissing during dialogued lines. Bonus features include audio commentary with director B.D. Benedikt, star Lazar Rockwood, and moderated by Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com. Also included are interviews with B.D. Benedikt, Lazar Rockwood, and Paul Corupe in a “Beyond Beyond the Seventh Door” segment and a look at Ben Kerr, a Toronto eccentric, in “The King of Cayenne” that delves into Kerr’s street performing life, his run for political office, and his overall love for a cayenne pepper cocktail. “Beyond the Seventh Door” is an anomalous, door-after-door misadventure with eccentric performances and an exceptional plot twist that only B.D. Benedikt could kook up and only Lazar Rockwood could pull off.