I had no idea what I was getting into when I popped in the disc for director B.D. Benedikt's bizarro psychological thriller, Beyond the Seventh Door, but I was perhaps even more confused after watching it.
Boris (played by the incredibly named Lazar Rockwood and sporting a delightfully absurd Yugoslavian accent) is an ex-con who has talked his former girlfriend (Bonnie Beck) into taking a shot at robbing her rich new boyfriend's mysterious castle. She assures him that it'll be worth it if it pays off, but also that the boyfriend is very fond of games, and before they can get their hands on his treasure, they'll have to solve and survive seven potentially deadly puzzles, each one crazier than the last.
Shot on a shoestring budget and acted in such a way that it's almost impossible to believe that the film even exists, Beyond the Seventh Door is the kind of outsider art that can only come from the mind of an auteur, because if even a second person had been involved in this production, they would've shut it down immediately. Benedikt's dialogue filtered through Rockwood's acting is like a game of heavily accented telephone, where the affect doesn't match the emotion 90% of the time. Combine that with no-budget special effects, crazy killer puzzles, truly uncomfortable love scenes, and Lazar Rockwood's unfuckwithable hair, and Beyond the Seventh Door almost immediately shot to the top of my list of what-just-happened classics.
Show on video, this DVD looks and sounds about as good as one might expect, which is to say, not very. However, I'm sure it is preserved in the most exceptional method possible given the source material.
As is often the case with home video releases from the Severin/Intervision group, the bonus materials really make the package worthwhile, and Beyond the Seventh Door is no exception. I don't think it'd be a huge stretch to imagine that more time and effort was spent on creating these materials than the original budget of the film. First, we get an audio commentary with director Benedikt moderated by the venerable Paul Corupe, Canadian film expert and webmaster of Canuxploitation.com, which is every bit as odd as you might imagine. However, the main extra is a 20+ minute making of featurette that reunites Benedikt and Rockwood for some conversations that must be heard to be believed. Benedikt has gotten out of production and is now in exhibition as the proprietor of a cinema in Canada, and Rockwood, well, he's still Rockwood as he describes his acting style and his animal inspirations for his performance. If the film didn't make any sense before watching these extras, it makes both absolutely perfect sense and even less sense after watching them. Baffling.
Perhaps the most interesting extra, and one of the craziest things I've seen on a home video release in a while, is a featurette called The King of Cayenne, which profiles a semi-famous Toronto area eccentric named Ben Kerr who appears in Beyond the Seventh Door for one or two very brief shots as a drowned corpse. Amazing.
If you love ridiculous films that feel like they've come from outer space, Beyond the Seventh Door is likely to tickle your fancy. Definitely recommended.