(aka "Amok Train" or "Beyond the Door III" or "Death Train")

 

directed by Jeff Kwitny
USA/Italy/Yugoslavia 1989

 

After a credit sequence depicting a sect of hooded cultists with sinister intent, we cut to Los Angeles where a group of students have been informed that they have been invited to Yugoslavia as part of a cultural exchange program to witness the performance of a passion play that predates the birth of Christ. Outcast Beverly (Mary Kohnert) is informed by her mother (Victoria Zinny) that her father actually came from the part of the world she is traveling to (the mother is then promptly killed in an OMEN-esque accident). The group of students, lead by a sinister Professor (Bo Svenson, WALKING TALL) to a foggy village where the silent villagers attempt to kill them. Most of the students escape and hop on a passing train which then takes on a life of its own, killing anyone who tries to stop it (as well as taking a detour off the tracks and across a body of water to kill of two of the students were unable to jump onto the train) from delivering Beverly to her fate (while the Yugoslavian female equivalent of Raymond Burr in GODZILLA 1985 observes the action from the railroad's central headquarters).

Although known as AMOK TRAIN in European territories, the film was released as BEYOND THE DOOR III in America (to cash in on the decades old success of BEYOND THE DOOR also produced by Ovidio G. Assonitis). The R-rated US tape and laserdisc releases were virtually scrubbed clean of several surprisingly gory special effects that were seen in international prints. The story itself is not only derivative but has an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink mentality yet the execution is admirable. Cinematographer Adolfo Bartoli makes the most of the misty Yugoslavian landscapes and filters (and manages some elegant sequences) and the pyrotechnic special effects are quite ambitious for a low budget production (even if the model laughable). Some nifty production design helps balance elements of the disaster genre and gothic horror. Eighties Italian horror mainstay Carlo Maria Cordio's keyboard score is effective in places but typically bombastic in others.

Eric Cotenas

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DVD Review: Shriek Show/Media Blasters - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Shriek Show/Media Blasters

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:34:54
Video

2.36:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.92 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo)
Subtitles English (for Serbo-Croat dialogue), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Shriek Show/Media Blasters

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.36:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with producer Ovidio G. Assonitis (4:3; 26:28)
• Interview with cinematographer Adolfo Bartoli (4:3; 11:41)
• Image Gallery
• BLACK DEMONS trailer (4:3 lbx; 1:25)
• DUCK! THE CARBINE HIGH MASSACRE trailer (4:3 lbx; 1:22)
• WITCHERY trailer (4:3; 3:01)
• SWEET HOUSE OF HORRORS trailer (4:3 lbx; 4:41)
• Easter Egg: AMOK TRAIN title card (4:3 lbx; 0:21)

DVD Release Date: 18 March 2008
Amaray

Chapters 16

 

Comments

Shriek Show/Media Blasters' disc marks the first presentation of this Super 35mm film in 2.35:1 (the previous, butchered R-rated US tape was fullscreen while the English-language Japanese-subtitled release was letterboxed at 2.00:1 and the OOP German DVD was 1.85:1) and it certainly is a revelation. What once looked like a typical late eighties, soft-focused direct to video release now looks like a respectably budgeted movie meant for theatrical exhibition (partially thanks to the high bitrate presentation). Adolfo Bartoli's cinematography is top notch (compared to his proficient but relatively flat work for a spate of shot on film direct to video films for Full Moon Pictures).

Previous English language prints of this film had large English subtitles for the Serbo-Croat dialogue (almost centered vertically to allow for matting to scope proportions) but they are here replaced with normal sized DVD subtitles though some of the large subtitles remain (these ones were also included in the Japanese-subtitled release). The film's Ultra-Stereo (presented here in Dolby Digital) mix is effectively enveloping.

 

Extras include interviews with producer Assonitis (who produced and co-directed the original BEYOND THE DOOR) and cinematography Bartoli as well as a photo gallery (early publicity materials referred to this as BEYOND THE DOOR II which was the title given to the Film Ventures' release of Mario Bava's SHOCK to cash in on the first film's success and capitalize on the shared use of the same child actor in both films). The film's alternate AMOK TRAIN title sequence (presumably from the German DVD) is included as an Easter egg in the bonus features menu. Trailers for BLACK DEMONS, WITCHERY, SWEET HOUSE OF HORRORS, and DUCK! THE CARBINE HIGH MASSACRE are also included.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution

Shriek Show/Media Blasters

Region 1 - NTSC

 





 

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