A shy co-ed and her classmates travel to Europe to see a ritual. With a satanist/professor with them, he lures them into deadly traps to become sacrifices to Satan. One co-ed is a virgin, the main key to bring Satan back to life. But can the co-ed lose her virginity before Satan controls the world?
Italian horror directors seem to have a weird knack of making ‘American’ horror films that are so off the course of whats normally expected of horror films that at times it feels like you are watching a fever dream. But not in a good Texas Chainsaw Massacre way, more like having a acid trip with a low budget. Beyond the Door 3: Amok Train is one of these odd Italian horror entities, strange and containing some interesting ideas but mostly just plain mediocre.
Released in 1989 this sequel (which has no narrative ties with any of the other Beyond the Door films) has director Ovidio Assonitis setting the film in Yugoslavia. Casting a group of American high school students, we are given a vague idea that they are on a school trip to a see an ancient ritual carried out by the locals in the European country. One of these students is the virginal, blonde haired Beverly who seems to be the outcast of the group. Upon landing in Yugoslavia the kids are at once confronted by scarf wearing hags and decrepit old men, just chilling out in the bushes stalking the kids.
The students have no reservations about the strange-strange locals but carry on with the tour by their guide – who is more than a little suspicious and has a uncomfortable obsession with Beverly. The kids are then taken to small straw thatched huts to go to sleep (in the middle of the day?) and while they are resting the huts are boarded up by the locals who attempt to kill them. Well they then escape from the crazy locals and manage to hop onto a moving train. What entails is a film about a runaway train (similar to a version of Speed but with demons) and a group of demonic cult members trying to capture Beverly to marry her to Satan himself. The film’s plot is strange by any slasher standards and the route the film takes has no resemblance to any sort of common sense.
The majority of the film is set on the train where Satan through mystical powers kills the driver and leaves the school kids and passengers on a wild ride around the country. This film is not focused on plot but hopes to entertain its audience by using nightmarish visuals. It did remind me – only slightly- of David Lynch’s cinema using nonsensical horror imagery plastered on the screen to stir emotions. Maggots, blood and guts all take prime screen time – with little rhyme or reason only to mystify it’s viewer and at times resemble some sort of freakish music video. However inserting ghoulish visuals does not always grab the attention of the viewer and my mind wandered often during the film.
The school kids barely resemble human beings and obviously in real life were in their mid 30’s when filming. I wouldn’t call what they do as acting but more an impersonation of what robot actors would do. It isn’t all doom and gloom though for the death scenes are gleefully disturbing with Satan possessing the students making them rip their own faces off and burning themselves alive. Yay! It’s nice to see these imbeciles succumb to gruesome deaths on the train. With an obvious low budget it does seem most of the budget was put aside for the gore and not towards the other special effects. In the shots showing the exterior of the train it is very obvious that they are filming a miniature model train which seems like a redundant contrast to the eerie scenes showing the eastern European landscape which are quite beautiful (even if they are over done with the use of a fog machine).
Beyond the Door 3: Amok Train has some interesting visuals but really that is all I can say about this borefest. Once Beverly meets her future husband-to-be the climax does have a rather silly twist – showing you that sex can save you from the devil?!? A confusing mess that doesn’t have enough awfulness to keep it interesting throughout its runtime. It is a strange beast of a film by using striking imagery it does differentiate itself from other slashers yet has little else to hold the attention.