Sava’s a thief,
Not a killer
I haven’t seen any of the films from the Beyond the Door series before not that this matters as none of the sequels follow the first film. This is yet another film made then the title changed to cash in on a more successful film so for the rest of this review it shall be known as Amok Train.
Starting with American students (complete with some bad American accents from at least one of the actress’) preparing to leave for Syria (I think) we meet our sour faced final girl.
You would want to slap anyone with such a scowl on their face for as long as she has.
She really does have a strop on her face for most of the film and you never really find out why unless you take into account the constant bullying from her classmates (which came first the bullying then the scowl or the scowl then the bullying) or her pervy mother that just walks in on her in the shower.
Oh it’s one of those films.
Sadly no it isn’t. Quickly drawing the shower curtain to cover herself…
Why was she in the shower and didn’t have the curtain closed? That bathroom floor must be flooded by now.
So her mother talks to her in Syrian where Beverly (our stropy hero) tells her to speak English as she doesn’t understand her in her native tongue.
I only bring this up because it gives us our first problem with the film which I’ll get on to later.
They arrive in Syria where they meet up with the local professor, Professor Andromolek played by personal favourite of mine Bo Svenson, that will be looking after them on their trip.
He takes a special interest in Beverly and notices the bullying; chastising the group then seeking her out to offer comfort.
Now given the earlier scene with her mother I wasn’t sure how this scene was going to end and thankfully it didn’t end in one of the ways that I was expecting it too.
So he takes them to a village where the students are housed two to a wooden hut apart from beverly who stays with a blind old lady that has quite a few close up shots which would not look out of place in the Evil Dead series.
We see the villagers nailing all the doors shut and have setting the huts on fire.
I really liked this scene. the the actors are in bed when the beds they are on suddenly burst into flames around them.
The way the director treats the actors in this scene is worse than the way Bruno Mattei treated the rats in the flame-thrower scene in Rats: Night of Terror (1984)
Later on there is another fantastic similar scene involving the fireman and the firebox in the trains cab.
They escape where one of the students runs to Beverly and they embrace running off holding hands.
Now I thought he was her boyfriend by this scene but he didn’t stand up for her earlier when everyone was bullying her so I was confused.
Turns out I didn’t need to be because this is one of the flaws of the film in that it is inconsistent.
They make it onto the train and try to tell the conductor what has happened except that he speaks no English. Well that’s until Beverly starts speaking Syrian, but didn’t she tell her mother earlier that she didn’t understand?
Suddenly the conductor speaks a little English which seems to get better and better until all he’s doing is speaking very good English with an accent.
Later the girlfriend of one of the students rips the skin of her face and covers him in maggots so he runs out of the carriage.
Not that anyone he’s with would know as he doesn’t seem to mention this or even act like anything happened for the rest of the film. If it wasn’t for Beverly briefly saying something I would have been convinced that was supposed to be a dream sequence.
But the makeup effects in that scene are bloody good. The gore through is surprisingly good and for those that love decapitations (don’t we all) there are plenty for our delight.
There are also a few deaths by impalement included one motorway scene that is very Final Destination 2 but without a budget and still as much fun to watch.
Story wise this film has no understanding of the word coherent. Just as well as this leaves you not knowing what will happen next. Deaths come out of the blue and are deliciously entertaining to watch, it has a secondary story of the local rail network at hq I assume trying to stop it but they do bugger all and don’t even clear the tracks.
Apart from when they actually clear the tracks. They uproot them but I think this is all they try.
Needn’t have bothered as this train seems to only use railway tracks as a matter of courtesy rather than a necessity.
You will never see another film involving a killer train that has the train be as random and creative in how it goes about dispatching anyone who gets in its way as this.
It separates the track so it can go off the rails then rides through a swamp to get at it’s prey only to rejoin the tracks and continue on its merry way.
We’ve all wanted to see a train leave its tracks, ride through a swamp, kill people only to rejoin the tracks and continue on and now we can.
While the make up effects are good and some of the stunt work is amazing, the times when they use a model to film what they couldn’t with a real train is simply bad.
Using a miniature does not mean you go down to the local model shop and buy yourself a Hornby model locomotive.
The miniature used for these effects in films are still quite large and custom made for a reason.
Still it does add to the overall feel of the film.
A ‘so bad its good’ film with a decent cast and good leading lady plus the always watchable Bo Svenson so if you like low budget horror from the 80’s give it a go.
But it is dumb and inconsistent.
Deep Red review below…
Some doors are best left closed!
Directed by Jeff Kwitny
Reviewed by Deep Red
Aka Amok Train aka Death Train aka Winds of Evil aka The Train aka Dark Train
Nothing to do with Beyond the Door  or Beyond the Door II ; all three films are unrelated, well, except the kid in the second one is in the first one (playing a different character) if that counts, which it doesn’t to me. I knew this in advance and decided to watch them anyway, turned out I liked the first film (largely known for being an Exorcist rip-off) and I loved the second film (also known as Shock directed by Mario Bava) so here I am at the end of this unofficial little series and it’s all aboard the Amok Train.
A group of students meet up with Professor Andromolek (Bo Svenson) in Belgrade and get on a ferry. They’re going to watch a passion play. They’re led to this creepy village-looking place in the woods and have to flee when they’re almost burned alive in their beds by the professor and the others there; one of them dies in the fire. Anyway, they jump on a train, a couple of them get left behind, but little do they know their troubles are just beginning….
This is a great film. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was very atmospheric with some excellent settings including the train itself. It won’t appeal to everyone but fans of 80s horror especially Italian horror will probably like it a lot. I was actually quite shocked by how good it was, I was expecting something pretty bad for some reason. The gore’s great, very Italian (think Fulci), and while some of the miniatures of the train and stuff are a bit ‘visible’ I’d rather see that than poor CGI.
Definitely make sure you see it uncut and bear in mind it’s an 80s film but check it out if you think you might enjoy it. Personally, I’m glad I found this one, right up my alley and I’ll watch it again without doubt. Very Fulci-esque in that it really goes for it, everything and the kitchen sink went into this one, I loved it.
So, the Beyond the Door series of films is very interesting and I think all horror fans should give them a go. You’re probably not expecting them to be worth watching, neither was I, but check ’em out, you might be surprised.
Stars Mary Kohnert as Beverly Putnic, Sarah Conway Ciminera as Christie, Jeremy Sanchez as Richard, Alex Vitale as Angel, Renee Rancourt as Melanie, Ron Williams as Larry and William Geiger as Kevin, Savina Gersak as Sava, Olga Poznatov as Old Woman and Igor Pervic as Marius.