Door into Silence (1991)
By: Julian on October 8, 2009  | 
Severin (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 87 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: John Savage, Sandi Schultz, Richard Castleman
Screenplay: Lucio Fulci
Country: Italy
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Slotting in at the lower end of the Fulci oeuvre, with some serious missteps with pacing and plotting making it a failure of a film, Door into Silence is nevertheless a very interesting failure that probably warrants greater assessment than simply Fulci's latter-day attempt at a bloodless psychological thriller. And indeed, for those picking up this disc wanting a repeat of the Godfather of Gore's typical claret-soaked masterpieces, you're highly misguided – there isn't so much as a paper cut in Door into Silence, with reliance placed totally on creating a palpable sensation of dread in the viewer. We don't quite get there – hell, we don't come close – but it is an admirable attempt and one that, with a bit more cash and some closer attention paid to tight scripting, could have been devilishly successful.

Door into Silence can be vaguely described as a fusion of two films – Martin Scorsese's little-known 1985 comedy After Hours, and the contemporary horror flick Final Destination. The latter needs little introduction with two sequels and a third incoming; people dodge Death, which later comes to claim them in a series of freak occurrences. After Hours tells the story of a man going through New York City of a night time and being afflicted with every unfortunate circumstance imaginable. In Door into Silence, we're introduced to Melvin Devereux (John Savage), a paranoid looking middle-aged bloke paying his respects at a cemetery in New Orleans, where Fulci returns a decade after The Beyond. At the cemetery, he meets a mysterious, alluring young woman (Sandi Schultz). Thinking little of the chance meeting, Melvin heads back to his home in rural Louisiana and is beset by every conceivable problem along the way – engine trouble, detours, wrong turns, bad roads. Then there's the hearse, a vehicle Melvin constantly finds himself stuck behind and won't let him overtake – and that has a coffin in the back with a plaque reading Melvin Devereux affixed very obviously. Melvin tails the hearse, determined to discover what's going on or whether he's losing his mind, all the while events get increasingly strange and the woman from the cemetery keeps popping up at unexpected times.

Fulci's last film (Voices From Beyond, while getting its Italian theatrical release in 1994, played Cannes in May 1991) is reminiscent of Twilight Zone in its set-ups, final reveal and made-for-TV vibe. Technically it's reasonably good, and Severin have cleaned up the picture to make Door into Silence look like it has a budget, but the acting is fundamentally lacking. John Savage goes through with robust woodenness as our protagonist, who's about as unsympathetic as a protagonist can get. This makes it more difficult to relate to the character, which makes it more difficult to be empathic in Devereux's smaller plights, which makes the smaller plights leading to the climax boring. Which is the film's next major issue: it doesn't command attention. Wrong turns and hearses displaying a living man's name only go so far to evoke tension and strike up mood; have that happen for an hour and a half and tedium quickly sets in.

Door into Silence's merits lie mostly in what could have been, insufficient laurels for a film to rest on, but there are some neat little elements that made parts of the film alright – the hearse (at least when the gimmick didn't wear thin) and the palm reader among them. But Fulci, writing as Jerry Madison, just doesn't nut out a script in which enough happens – in his best movies Zombie and New York Ripper, it was the blood and viscera that gelled them, with plotting coming secondary. Fulci just isn't cut out for relying solely on intelligent plotting and suspense because he can't execute it anywhere near as well as what he can extreme, often disturbing violence. If you're a Fulci completist, no review is going to stop you from checking his final film out – but it's a lacklustre and disappointing coda to the career of one of Italy's finest horror filmmakers.

Another thing: Joe D'Amato, using his not-so-Anglicised nom-de-plume John Gelardi, produces. It was one of the last films he was involved with before turning exclusively to straight-to-video porn. The great Laura Gemser is costume designer.
Severin have done a pretty good job here, presenting Door into Silence in 1.33:1. It brushes up pretty well. Giancarlo Ferrando, assuming the name John C Fredericks, is on DP duty, and he brings an eerie quality to the Louisiana setting. Ferrando was and remains a mainstay on the Italotrash circuit, lensing such films as Torso and Mountain of the Cannibal God. His latest project is Enzo G Castellari's Caribbean Basterds, which is currently in post-production and due out later this year.
One English audio track, presented in Dolby Digital mono, is provided. It's not too bad but there are sections in which the dialogue gets a bit lost and the background sound can be pretty dull. We wouldn't really expect any better from an 18-year-old, C-grade Italian horror movie, though.
Extra Features
The Verdict
This isn't a total waste of time and it isn't totally inadequate, but Fulci foolishly relies on his flawed-at-best storytelling ability to drive the film and create suspense. It doesn't work. You still can't go past Fulci for bloodshed, but you won't miss much if you go past Door into Silence.
Movie Score
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Overall Score

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