Shock (1977)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-02-29 12:36

Directed by: Mario Bava
Written by: Lamberto Bava and Dardano Sachetti
Produced by: Turi Vasile

Reviewed by: Brett H.

Itís hard to believe that in 20 years of watching horror films, Iíve never once come across the works of Italian director, Mario Bava. Renowned for his gothic horror masterpieces, I was enthusiastic to finally pop in the last movie he ever directed, Shock. Certainly a more modern tale than Mario Bava is often associated with, the film was retitled Beyond the Door II and is regarded as an unrelated sequel to the successful Ovidio Assonitisí film which was released in 1974. Beyond the Door wasnít exactly a great film in the first place and it wouldnít take much to top it. Does Shock pack a true jolt, or does it merely ride the coattails of a below average movie that gained success as result of a great ad campaign?

Bruno (John Steiner) and Dora (Daria Nicolodi) move into a new home with their son, Marco (David Colin Jr.). For the first while everything things to be going as planned. Marco is asking a few odd questions regarding how long they plan to stay, but nothing is out of the ordinary. This changes quickly as a supernatural presence begins seeping its way through the house, speaking and acting mostly through young Marco. Appropriately, the house has a history that relates to the entire family. Bruno is Marcoís stepfather and his real dad, Carlo had lived in the home along with Dora years prior until he committed suicide.

Dora and Carlo had been drug users while residing in the house and the suicide was never explained to little Marco, who was told that his father went away on a trip and died along the way. As Carloís presence begins to roll through the house, Dora is targeted extensively above all else, objects move and she is attacked by hallucinations and every day objects on a regular basis. Marco begins to spend a lot of time in the basement, getting in even when the door is locked. Where the film really takes a turn for the sinister is after Marco tells his mother rather nonchalantly, ďMomma, Iím going to have to kill you.Ē At this point, thereís no surprise that Carlo isnít ready to let go of his family just yet.

When his parents are not around, Marco spends his time acting out based on Carloís supernatural powers, pinning a picture of his stepfatherís face on a swing and pushing it, it nearly brings down the plane Bruno is flying. Not to mention, further terrorizing his mother in any instance he can. But, something is amiss. There seems to be more to the story than anyone is letting on. Marco draws a picture of his father with a slashed neck and his mother holding the bloody knife. Is it Marcoís imagination? Perhaps a father reaching out for truth from beyond the grave and looking for revenge? Or is it all just in Doraís head?

Shock could use some work. The film holds your interest just enough, but for the first hour, there are just too many unanswered questions and very average haunting effects taking place. You can only get so much pleasure out of pictures falling down or another household item shaking. Along the way, there are definitely some nice touches, though. My favorite being a razorblade inserted between the keys of a piano, cutting Dora when she begins to play. The film doesnít have many kills, but when they take place, they are great and blood flows freely. Whereas the first hour of the film could use some work, the ending redeems it. Questions and symbolism (a hand motif, to be exact) are answered which ties mostly everything up nicely and leads to a truly shocking ending.

Itís just a shame everything that makes the ending so exciting makes the beginning so slow and a tad dull. The ending also contains one scene that, should it have been made today, would have packed the most amazing punch accompanied by a thundering 5.1 surround sound track. Marco runs at his mother before disappearing from the shot. The split fraction of a second it takes for him to disappear, his fatherís demonic body shoots up right in front of Dora, seemingly Marco morphs much like a werewolf and the ghostly visage ends up right in his motherís face. I would have jumped ten feet out of my chair if it were accompanied by a better, bigger sound effect.

Thatís not to say the DVDís mono track isnít adequate, it is. It just seems as though that one small scene could have benefited exponentially with a louder punch in the sound, but that would be changing the audio for the film and many a purist would be mighty upset. The DVD looks good, released by Anchor Bay in the earlier days of DVD it gets quality treatment with a couple trailers and TV spots as well. The best one is a fun combo spot featuring footage from Shock (under the Beyond the Door II moniker) and the other half of a double feature The Dark spliced together. Also included is a nice little 7 minute interview with Marioís son and assistant director of the picture, Lamberto Bava. It doesnít flow through you like 2000 volts of Old Sparky, but the ending makes up for it and truly Shocks. Rent it!

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