Written and directed by: Lucio Fulci
Starring: John Savage, Sandi Schultz, Richard Castleman & Elizabeth Chugden
Reviewed by: Brett H.
ďI donít have much time.Ē
It took awhile, but with the release of Severinís Door Into Silence, the entire horror catalogue of Lucio Fulci has been made available on DVD. Itís been a bittersweet ride for me, one that started iconic with Zombie in í99 and gradually built up even higher, etching Fulciís name in stone atop the headstone of my favorite horror artists of all time. The road has been bumpy at times (Touch of Death, The Sweet House of Horrors) and admittedly, completely dilapidated with Sodomaís Ghost, but as a whole, the films dotting the asphalt is the archetype of a legend. Decorating this road are the grisliest zombies ever committed to celluloid, sexually depraved nazi ghosts, deteriorated scientists, gothic mansions and duck-voiced giallo mutilators. As I envision this sort of highway to hell of macabre straight from the mind of Italyís greatest madman, I can appreciate the diversity, complexity and richness of his work. In 1991, Fulci would make his last official film with Door Into Silence that, rather than putting the act of murder under the spotlight, decides to grip itself in the expedition of death.
We open on a car accident, a shattered dash watch clocking in the time of some poor soulís death at 7:30. On the day of burial, friends show up to mourn the loss, including Sylvia and Melvin Devereux (Sandi Schultz and John Savage). While Sylvia is busy mourning this recent loss, Melvin wanders about the cemetery and finds the resting place of his father, whose headstone listens to the pouring of his heart. When it comes time to leave the cemetery, Sylvia heads home whereas Melvin inexplicably takes to the road on the highways and back roads of Louisiana. For some reason, Melvin has to go to Abbeville and his trek is full of setbacks. Roads are blocked from flooding, bridges are rotted, a mysteriously white-clad lady he doesnít know turns up at every corner and nightmares wreak havoc on his mind. Then thereís the matter of the slow moving hearse that always seems just a stoneís throw ahead of him no matter where he goes. Try as he might, the grey-haired driver of the death-mobile simply will not let him passÖ
In hindsight, Door Into Silence is incredibly prophetic and striking, and without a doubt, one of most bizarre yet least excessive flicks of the Fulci canon. Most horror films are a study of murder, be it comical, exploitive or serious, and even the after-life, but fewer actually take the time to stop and smell the black flowers of death. Instead of the outrageous murders he is renowned for, Fulci offers up a study in the psyche of death. Giving us questions to answers one might come up with to the age old question of what lies beyond. The winding plot may be reminiscent of Twilight Zone fodder, but with the artistic trademarks of the Fulci directorial repertoire, he manages to make the subject matter his own. Focusing merely on the film strolling along from point A to the rather predictable ending in point B, the journey isnít that exhilarating on paper, but works on the whole. Along the way, thereís the odd nip in the butt that you never saw coming and obvious foreshadowing that you definitely did.
Stylistically, itís all Fulci. There are zooms, subtle imagery and mirrors galore (not to mention the atheist infused title) with the soundtrack accompanying the visuals ranging from cheesy to efficient, which is pretty standard for the low budget Italian shockers of the time. Much like his early classic, The Beyond, the film is set in Louisiana. In fact, I would bet a nickel or two that the broken down, lush, grown from the earth appearance of the old cemetery in this film is the same featured in the aforementioned classic. There are some tense moments (including a car chase with huge cross-shaped telephone poles streaking along the sides of the frame), but the movie is very contemplative and strives for the viewer to come up with his own assumptions until things are tied up at the end, albeit still leaving some things unanswered and nonsensical. To Fulci fans, this will come as no surprise, but how the questions raised in this movie work when compared to, say, the ending of a House By the Cemetery is that the audience it is intended for wonít mind drawing their own conclusions because it all seems part of the whole experience rather than artistic merit tacked onto a more commercial effort.
Severin offers up their third Fulci horror title with a barebones effort consisting of an intended full frame ratio and clear mono sound. Considering the film is a couple decades old and was most likely intended for Italian TV, you canít expect miracles. The picture quality looks better than VHS, but there is some bleeding and the colors seem a little dull. It is still very watchable, and is much better than a bootleg, but to quote some great anonymous man ďyou canít polish a turdĒ. In the end, knowing how the life of Lucio Fulciís would end half a decade after the filmís production adds a lot to the overall effect and personality of the movie, which, along with Cat in the Brain, just may offer a birdís eye view into the insane world that is a matured Lucio Fulciís mind better than any of his other films. Severin's Door Into Silence is one of the best and most personal films to come from the latter years of Lucio Fulci; an 87 minute journey of death and exploration that his legions of fans will display proudly. If you arenít a fan, tread with some caution, but itís worth a look. Buy it!
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