Shock


1h 33m 1977
Shock

Brief Synopsis

A woman believes her late abusive husband has possessed their son.

Film Details

Also Known As
Beyond the Door II, Schock
Genre
Horror
Foreign
Release Date
1977

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

When Jessica Barrett is pregnant with her third child, friends and family notice something odd about her behavior, and before long, Jessica shows clear signs of demonic possession. Jessica's old boyfriend Dimitri arrives and tells her that he wants to help her with the birth of the baby, but he is really in league with the demon who possesses her. The unborn child is in fact the Antichrist, who eventually turns on Dimitri and kills him, and the baby is stillborn.

Film Details

Also Known As
Beyond the Door II, Schock
Genre
Horror
Foreign
Release Date
1977

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Shock (1977)


Italian filmmaker Mario Bava came to direct his final feature film in a roundabout way - roundabout because he had by 1976 all but given up on his career. The son of a theatrical and silent film special effects man and a dab hand himself at in-camera legerdemain that teased state-of-the-art thrills from effects perfected before the advent of cinema, Bava's technical prowess allowed him to transform the countryside around Rome into the Gothic hinterlands of Black Sunday (1960) and Black Sabbath (1963), the Nordic battlefields of Erik, the Conqueror (1961) and Knives of the Avenger (1966), the frontier wastelands of The Road to Fort Alamo (1964) and Roy Colt and Winchester Jack (1970), and the futuristic landscapes of Planet of the Vampires (1965) and Danger: Diabolik (1968) - all on budgets that ran the tight gamut from miniscule to modest. A lifelong fan of horror and the fantastic, Bava's deft manipulation of the traditional spook show trappings of The Whip and the Body (1963), Blood and Black Lace (1964), and Kill, Baby... Kill (1966) got him branded "the Italian Hitchcock" but by the mid-70s the aging maestro was hobbled by professional dead ends and creative disappointments.

After his Gothic magnum opus Lisa and the Devil (1972) was taken away from him and recut by his producer as The House of Exorcism, with vomitous exorcism scenes added in postproduction in an artless bid to cash in on the international success of William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973), and with his edgy change-of-pace crime thriller Rabid Dogs (1975) impounded for unpaid production bills, Bava lapsed into a period of acute, immobilizing depression. Not even the offer of a $100,000 paycheck to head the special effects unit of producer Dino De Laurentiis' 1976 remake of King Kong could rouse Bava from his career doldrums. (Bava instead recommended colleague Carlo Rambaldi, who consequently shared a 1977 Academy Award for the gig.) It took Bava's son Lamberto to pry him out of his creative inertia by initiating pre-production on a long-dormant horror script. "It's Always Cold at 33 Via Orologio" was adaptation by Italian screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti of the 1971 novel The Shadow Guest, by American mystery writer Hillary Waugh. Bava fils persuaded producer Turi Vasile to buy the property for his Laser Film, and then set about reworking the script by night after workdays spent toiling in an Italian ad agency run by sometimes filmmaker Ruggero Deodato (later director of the controversial Italo-cannibal shocker Cannibal Holocaust, whose "found footage" conceit would inspire the 1999 indie horror hit The Blair Witch Project and a legion of jittery copycats).

Retitled Shock (1977), the film's mix of ghosthouse ghoulishness and a psychological complexity that puts it on par with Roman Polanski's Repulsion (1965) drew Mario Bava out of his two-year funk. (Though the screenplay credit reflects the contributions of several writers, an uncredited Bava pere helped shape the material, based on his reading of the horror tales of French writer Guy de Maupassant, in particular his 1886 short story "The Horla.") With a budget of only $60,000 and a tight five week shooting schedule, Shock got under way in the spring of 1977. Keeping costs low was the use for the narrative's principal setting a villa borrowed from Italian actor Enrico Maria Salerno, and a small cast headed by Daria Nicolodi. Nicolodi had been the lover and collaborator of Dario Argento, a film critic turned filmmaker who had contributed to the script for Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) before making his directorial debut with the psychothriller The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1969). Nicolodi had starred in Argento's Profondo Rosso (aka Deep Red, 1975) and had initiated production on his 1977 witchcraft movie Suspira, but when Argento (by then the father of Nicolodi's daughter Asia) cast American actress Jessica Harper in the role Nicolodi assumed would be hers she fell into her own depression, reduced by anorexia to a mere 86 pounds. Redeemed by Mario Bava, Nicolodi would channel her pain, and exorcise some personal demons, while playing the mother of a boy who seems to be in psychic communication with his long-lost and presumed dead father.

Though Mario Bava took to the new project with characteristic gusto (an inveterate practical joker, the elder Bava kept the mood on location light and happy), he turned over a quarter of the direction to Lamberto, feigning fatigue so that the younger man (who had already assisted his father on several films) could gain invaluable directing experience. Credit for Shock's tentpole scare sequences is divided between father and son, with Mario designing a rotisserie-style gimbal for a bit involving Nicolodi's gravity-defying encounter with a ghostly presence and Lamberto concocting an unexpected jump scare that occurs when Nicolodi's onscreen son (David Colin, Jr.) rushes into her arms, only to turn into the corpse of Husband No. 1 (Enrico Maria Salerno's adult son Nicola, who was doing double duty as the film's assistant production designer). For the film's gory conclusion, set for the most part in the dark cellar of the family home (a plot point that seems inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat"), production shifted to the soundstages of the Vides Cinematografica, a downmarket studio on the outskirts of Rome that costar John Steiner (in the role of Nicolodi's frequently absent second husband) remembers as "really sort of... shacks! They were the last of the low-end studios, and very little was being shot. I think we were the only movie being shot there at the time. Those were the last years of the Italian movie business."

Shock opened in Rome in August of 1977, with ticket sales amounting to only $2,000 above its $60,000 budget. (For the film's Italian roll-out, Libra fabricated poster art that was a shameless pirating of the cover illustration of Shirley Jackson's 1962 novel We Have Always Lived in This Castle, which depicted a dark-haired woman peering through the eyehole in a split-rail fence post - altering the original to replace the woman's grasp on a sprig of red berries with a bloody X-Acto knife.) For playdates in the United States, Shock was edited for length and retitled Beyond the Door II, due to the fact that distributor Film Ventures International had scored a big hit with their 1974 Exorcist ripoff Beyond the Door (originally titled Chei sei?, or "Who's there?"); forging the non-existent connection between the two films for American moviegoers was the common presence of child actor David Colin, Jr. in both. Shock would be Mario Bava's last feature film. He completed one more project, the telefilm La Venere d'Ille (1978) - again co-directed with Lamberto and again featuring Nicolodi as leading lady - which RAI-TV shelved for three years and broadcast in 1981 -a year after Bava's death from a sudden heart attack on April 25, 1980.

By Richard Harland Smith

Sources:

Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark by Tim Lucas (Video Watchdog, 2007)
Shock (1977)

Shock (1977)

Italian filmmaker Mario Bava came to direct his final feature film in a roundabout way - roundabout because he had by 1976 all but given up on his career. The son of a theatrical and silent film special effects man and a dab hand himself at in-camera legerdemain that teased state-of-the-art thrills from effects perfected before the advent of cinema, Bava's technical prowess allowed him to transform the countryside around Rome into the Gothic hinterlands of Black Sunday (1960) and Black Sabbath (1963), the Nordic battlefields of Erik, the Conqueror (1961) and Knives of the Avenger (1966), the frontier wastelands of The Road to Fort Alamo (1964) and Roy Colt and Winchester Jack (1970), and the futuristic landscapes of Planet of the Vampires (1965) and Danger: Diabolik (1968) - all on budgets that ran the tight gamut from miniscule to modest. A lifelong fan of horror and the fantastic, Bava's deft manipulation of the traditional spook show trappings of The Whip and the Body (1963), Blood and Black Lace (1964), and Kill, Baby... Kill (1966) got him branded "the Italian Hitchcock" but by the mid-70s the aging maestro was hobbled by professional dead ends and creative disappointments. After his Gothic magnum opus Lisa and the Devil (1972) was taken away from him and recut by his producer as The House of Exorcism, with vomitous exorcism scenes added in postproduction in an artless bid to cash in on the international success of William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973), and with his edgy change-of-pace crime thriller Rabid Dogs (1975) impounded for unpaid production bills, Bava lapsed into a period of acute, immobilizing depression. Not even the offer of a $100,000 paycheck to head the special effects unit of producer Dino De Laurentiis' 1976 remake of King Kong could rouse Bava from his career doldrums. (Bava instead recommended colleague Carlo Rambaldi, who consequently shared a 1977 Academy Award for the gig.) It took Bava's son Lamberto to pry him out of his creative inertia by initiating pre-production on a long-dormant horror script. "It's Always Cold at 33 Via Orologio" was adaptation by Italian screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti of the 1971 novel The Shadow Guest, by American mystery writer Hillary Waugh. Bava fils persuaded producer Turi Vasile to buy the property for his Laser Film, and then set about reworking the script by night after workdays spent toiling in an Italian ad agency run by sometimes filmmaker Ruggero Deodato (later director of the controversial Italo-cannibal shocker Cannibal Holocaust, whose "found footage" conceit would inspire the 1999 indie horror hit The Blair Witch Project and a legion of jittery copycats). Retitled Shock (1977), the film's mix of ghosthouse ghoulishness and a psychological complexity that puts it on par with Roman Polanski's Repulsion (1965) drew Mario Bava out of his two-year funk. (Though the screenplay credit reflects the contributions of several writers, an uncredited Bava pere helped shape the material, based on his reading of the horror tales of French writer Guy de Maupassant, in particular his 1886 short story "The Horla.") With a budget of only $60,000 and a tight five week shooting schedule, Shock got under way in the spring of 1977. Keeping costs low was the use for the narrative's principal setting a villa borrowed from Italian actor Enrico Maria Salerno, and a small cast headed by Daria Nicolodi. Nicolodi had been the lover and collaborator of Dario Argento, a film critic turned filmmaker who had contributed to the script for Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) before making his directorial debut with the psychothriller The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1969). Nicolodi had starred in Argento's Profondo Rosso (aka Deep Red, 1975) and had initiated production on his 1977 witchcraft movie Suspira, but when Argento (by then the father of Nicolodi's daughter Asia) cast American actress Jessica Harper in the role Nicolodi assumed would be hers she fell into her own depression, reduced by anorexia to a mere 86 pounds. Redeemed by Mario Bava, Nicolodi would channel her pain, and exorcise some personal demons, while playing the mother of a boy who seems to be in psychic communication with his long-lost and presumed dead father. Though Mario Bava took to the new project with characteristic gusto (an inveterate practical joker, the elder Bava kept the mood on location light and happy), he turned over a quarter of the direction to Lamberto, feigning fatigue so that the younger man (who had already assisted his father on several films) could gain invaluable directing experience. Credit for Shock's tentpole scare sequences is divided between father and son, with Mario designing a rotisserie-style gimbal for a bit involving Nicolodi's gravity-defying encounter with a ghostly presence and Lamberto concocting an unexpected jump scare that occurs when Nicolodi's onscreen son (David Colin, Jr.) rushes into her arms, only to turn into the corpse of Husband No. 1 (Enrico Maria Salerno's adult son Nicola, who was doing double duty as the film's assistant production designer). For the film's gory conclusion, set for the most part in the dark cellar of the family home (a plot point that seems inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat"), production shifted to the soundstages of the Vides Cinematografica, a downmarket studio on the outskirts of Rome that costar John Steiner (in the role of Nicolodi's frequently absent second husband) remembers as "really sort of... shacks! They were the last of the low-end studios, and very little was being shot. I think we were the only movie being shot there at the time. Those were the last years of the Italian movie business." Shock opened in Rome in August of 1977, with ticket sales amounting to only $2,000 above its $60,000 budget. (For the film's Italian roll-out, Libra fabricated poster art that was a shameless pirating of the cover illustration of Shirley Jackson's 1962 novel We Have Always Lived in This Castle, which depicted a dark-haired woman peering through the eyehole in a split-rail fence post - altering the original to replace the woman's grasp on a sprig of red berries with a bloody X-Acto knife.) For playdates in the United States, Shock was edited for length and retitled Beyond the Door II, due to the fact that distributor Film Ventures International had scored a big hit with their 1974 Exorcist ripoff Beyond the Door (originally titled Chei sei?, or "Who's there?"); forging the non-existent connection between the two films for American moviegoers was the common presence of child actor David Colin, Jr. in both. Shock would be Mario Bava's last feature film. He completed one more project, the telefilm La Venere d'Ille (1978) - again co-directed with Lamberto and again featuring Nicolodi as leading lady - which RAI-TV shelved for three years and broadcast in 1981 -a year after Bava's death from a sudden heart attack on April 25, 1980. By Richard Harland Smith Sources: Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark by Tim Lucas (Video Watchdog, 2007)

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