Note: this review originally appeared at www.jabootu.net as part of a series called Video Cheese. It has been reprinted here by the kind permission of Mr. Ken Begg.
BEYOND THE DOOR III (1989 - color)
“American students again regret travelling the European back-country, and this time find themselves trapped on a demonic train.”
Leonard Maltin’s video guide mentions a late-70′s Italian Exorcist knock-off titled Beyond the Door,
and it’s in-name-only sequel produced around the same time. Since
supernatural (at least demonic) horror films are seldom written by
anyone with any spiritual knowledge, sitting through them tends to be
more aggravating than entertaining. Because of this, I can’t say that I was in a big hurry to view the
third film in the series, especially if it had any connection to either
the first or second films which go by the same title. I’d be completely
lost if there was a back story I needed and didn’t have access to.
Being better than my expectations, though, Beyond the Door III seems to tell a story independent of any earlier flick. Also a bonus was the fairly eventful plot once things got going. At times, it played like a more fantastic version of Race with the Devil,
a classic chase movie where Peter Fonda and his friend (Warren Oates,
if my memory doesn’t fail me) witness a sacrifice made as part of a cult
ceremony and must flee from the pursuing satanists. Beyond the Door III isn’t that good, of course, it’s a completely different animal. But it wasn’t as bad as I naturally expected it to be.
Points at least for going in unexpected directions. As we open, a
group of high-schoolers (or are they supposed to be in college? I’d
think so, based on their ages, but I’m not sure this is spelled out) are
flying to Europe to engage in some occult studies or some such, NEVER a
good idea in these things! Their guide turns out to be Bo Svensen made up to look like Dracula
with a beard. At least Bo seems to be more engaged here than he usually
was during this period, actually trying for a complete performance,
including an accent. He even looks less craggy than he usually does.
Okay, there’s one girl in the group, Beverly, who seems seconds away
from freaking out at any given moment. Beverly’s mother is an immigrant
from the very part of Europe the class will be visiting. It’s pretty clear right from the start that weird things are going to
happen to Beverly. Firstly, she has a huge curved birthmark on her
tummy (which, I suppose, is meant to look like flames). We’re given a
good look at this in the film’s single* nude scene as Beverly showers.
(* I point this out mostly because it's so odd for a film like this to try and actually tell a complete story instead of serve up periodic sex and nudity. That too, was a refreshing and unexpected turn.)
Beverly's classmates know of this mark. I’m not sure how this works, given
that Beverly gets picked on for being prudish so it’s hard to imagine
they ever saw her in a bikini, let alone in the raw. Her being a virgin
is highlighted, and her supposedly adult classmates really enjoy
snickering at this. (I admit, I haven’t been in school for a long time, but would this
really be such a big deal and point of ridicule? I mean, I know some
jerks would bring it up around girls, but I don’t think the entire class
would be hung up on it, would they?)
Anyway, Professor Bo hands out some medallions to identify the
group’s members if they get lost in the field. These look amazingly like
Beverly’s giant birthmark. Rather than leave upon seeing her medallion, which you have to figure might ring some alarm bells,
Beverly stays with the group. (And despite establishing these medallions,
they are never seen again.)
Meanwhile, Beverly’s mother is horribly decapitated when a car
purposefully brakes in front of a cargo truck hauling metal beams, one
of which flies through the window of her taxi. Dark forces are already
Bo intercepts a telegram to keep the news from Beverly. They indicate
that Beverly notices this, but she still doesn’t make a run for it. In
fact, she’ll allow Bo to comfort her with a long embrace moments later!
On site, the kids hike out to a remote village where an annual
‘passion play’ is recreated, one which dates to before the time of
Christ, and involves a beautiful young virgin (snicker snicker). Okay, Beverly isn’t beautiful or anything, but she should be putting
the pieces together here. I mean, she’s nervous, but she’s always
nervous, so I don’t understand why Bo is able to convince her that she
should stay with him for the night.
I doubt this will shock anyone, but she ends up being drugged.
Perhaps not as expected is when unconscious Beverly is felt up by a
blind old “Gipsy” woman and proclaimed to be virgin. (By the way, that’s
how they spell gypsy in the credits, with an ‘i’ where the ‘y’ should
be. It’s their mistake, not mine.)
Anyway, the other kids are rounded into primitive, almost Ewok
village-like cabins. When they’re asleep, the townsfolk nail the doors
shut and set the houses on fire. Although they slept through the hammers banging
on the doors, the fire finally wakes them up and they make a break for
it. One of their number, though, in a sudden trace, burns alive.
Running away from the village, the kids find an approaching train.
Most are able to climb aboard, but one girl falls behind. One of the
guys jumps off to help her, but breaks his leg in the process. The two
then have to make their way on foot. Meanwhile, the others find refuge on the train when the conductor
promises to take them to the authorities. The trip will take some while,
though, as the train is “non capitalist” and has no radio to alert the
station ahead of their arrival.
About here it seems the producers had two movies in mind and decided
to make both as one picture. One idea involved the kids being tracked by
the cult, the other a story about a runaway train. You see, evil forces take control of the train and kill the conductor
and engineer (one poor guy actually gets sucked into the furnace) and
the train steams along under supernatural control!
As if that isn’t enough to reckon with, Beverly’s travelling companions
start dying in gruesome fashion while trying to stop the train. At this
point, you could almost say it turns into an imaginative slasher flick
of sorts. Anything after this will be a spoiler, so turn back if you
don’t want to learn the rest.
And now, the rest of our story.....
As the train barrels out of control, the authorities attempt to
derail it, but the train is under demonic control and doesn’t require a
track when it wants to leave it! In one scene, the track shifts and the train bulldozes across the
wilderness to turn around and start hauling its captives back the way
they came from. (A mix of pretty good and pretty bad model work depicts
Now moving in the other direction, the authorities try to derail the
train before it can collide with another train coming up the same line.
They remove a section of track, but the train speeds right along and
finds the track again. The other train is history.
In another scene, the train changes course into a swamp so it can run
over the two kids that got away earlier. I tell you, there are moments
when this would be sort of neat were it not so profoundly goofy. One curious detail we learn is that if you’re standing in a rowboat
and a train comes crashing into you, your head is cut off…. clean, like
under a sword…..and your severed noggin will end up in the middle car of
Ultimately, the forces of darkness manage to kill all of Beverly’s
friends before the train comes to a stop. She’s then surrounded by the
Okay, here’s where things get REALLY confusing. There were a couple
of other characters on the train. One was a young woman who steals and
uses her wits to survive in the third world country where all this is
taking place (charmingly, she looks like she never saw a shower, but she’s wearing
lipstick). She buys it when she tries to stop the train with a makeshift
The other character is this guy who sits in the corner and doesn’t do
anything but play a flute. We’ve forgotten all about him until he
suddenly enters the plot again: Beverly is surrounded and soon to be
offered to Satan himself as a virgin bride, the flute-player removes his
hood and seduces her. I was thinking this guy was supposed to the Devil
himself, but no. Weirdly, this is only the beginning of the craziness which follows.....
Beverly is next seen outside the train, dressed like a widow with a
sheer front so as to let us again see her goofy birthmark. She’s wearing
make-up now too, which I guess is important, but I’m not sure how. Bo
arrives to pick her up and ride her back to the village in a horse-drawn
buggy. She seems to have embraced this whole wife-of-the-Devil thing,
which pleases Bo.
Later, she’s about to be… Now, how do I describe this. Okay, there’s
this big black cube in a barn or something, and glowing smoke
occasionally rises from the top. Beverly is placed on a platform with a
narrow bed atop it and she lies down near the top of the cube. Then,
what looks like a block of ice (?) rises from the top and inside that is
a silly-looking rubber Devil…. Words fail me.
Anyhoo, the “Gipsy” wanders over to give Beverly a last-minute check
and then freaks out because Beverly has been deflowered. Now, as
important as this supposedly is to this ritual, you’d think they would
have checked this status earlier, but I guess “Gipsy” wasn’t around to
grope her until this minute…. At any rate, this apparently spoils the whole ceremony and the
congregation melts to death. This seems to be a standard means of
destroying cults, now that I think about it.
Beverly is free to go, and I guess the cult is washed up for good.
Somehow, Beverly makes it back to the airport and heads for home. In an
ancient book her mother gave her way back in reel one–and we haven’t
seen it since–Beverly learns that the guy who did… you know….. to her,
was a 16th century saint who, I guess, returned to earth just to rob her
of her virginity in order to stop a satanic ritual! (The exact nature
of the ritual I was never clear on. Was Beverly supposed to give birth
to the Antichrist?)
Talk about wacky! I already had mixed feelings about the whole
steal-her-virginity-before-she-can-be-used-by-Satan thing, but this
revelation is positively screwball!
Sadly, this was better than most devil movies I’ve tried to watch. If
nothing else, I must tip my cap to the film for going in completely
unexpected directions. Multiple times at that. I’m not saying they were
always good moves to make, but they did keep me guessing!