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Door Into Silence (1991)
12th Jan 10
Melvin Deveroux drives around Louisiana, plagued by a really annoying hearse which may or may not be carrying his own body. Is he dead? Where is he going anyway? How long does this go on for? I want to watch some football...
Lucio Fulci's final film sees real estate man Melvin Deveroux (John Savage) visit a Louisiana cemetery to pay respects to his dead father. About to leave the cemetery, he is approached by a young woman who seems to know him but he has no idea who she is, so off he goes on a very long drive indeed, possibly headed homewards. But this is to be no ordinary journey. On the contrary, Melvin begins to steer into some increasingly bizarre situations, most notably involving a really annoying hearse, which won't let him overtake (in an almost comically sped-up sequence). It's not so much the driver of the hearse that intrigues him (although he does bear a striking resemblance to Jock Ewing from Dallas); it's more who lies within the coffin.
Various troublesome episodes follow. Deveroux keeps ignoring 'road closed' signs, thereby putting his life in peril by slowing driving across rickety bridges which nearly give way. He encounters the girl from the first scene, but she does a runner from a motel before they can get it on with hot sexy lovin'. She promises that they will meet again. The hearse re-appears throughout, and Deveroux confronts the Jock Ewing driver (very badly) in a roadside diner, after which he keeps looking at his watch which appears to be stopped. Ohhhh...spooky; could that be his own corpse in Jock Ewing's big hearse of evil death?
If you got bored whilst reading the above, I humbly apologise. The main problem here is that Door Into Silence is a much duller movie than yours truly had hoped for. Those people who say this runs like an overlong episode of The Twilight Zone have hit the nail on the head; there simply isn't enough content here for a feature length film, and towards the end, Fulci shamelessly reuses the hearse chase footage from the beginning. And it's not even good footage, looking more like inappropriately unintentional slapstick.
In the lead role of Melvin Deveroux is John Savage (The Deer Hunter, Hair), and despite pedigree credentials, he really doesn't shine here, which is all the more disappointing because we're stuck with him - and mostly only him - for the duration. Deveroux is hard to identify with. At the beginning, we find out that he's a real estate man (which must mean he's a complete dick) but he doesn't do himself any more favours throughout the rest of the movie; a short-tempered, drink-driving, cheating husband who drives around endlessly, smoking lots of cigarettes. The only good thing he does is to visit his father's grave in the first scene.
Are there any good points? Well, the central theme works to a certain extent but then the engine just runs dry. The concept of a day that doesn't end is quite haunting, given the context, and occasional scenes do manage to entertain, like when Melvin can't get it up with the roadside slut, or when he wrecks havoc during a black funeral. The latter scene actually made me laugh, but it wasn't intentional, and it's possible that I was merely glad to be entertained by any sort of action that didn't involve endless hearse-chasing on Louisiana's open roads.
Perhaps the worst crime of all for a movie which goes on for way too long is a shit ending, which Door Into Silence definitely has. Without giving anything away, there is no big surprise, it's just plain daft and in no way rewards you for dutifully sticking with it, just because it was Fulci's final film. Like a loved one who dies old, after a painful illness, it's best to remember them in their prime, so if Bayou-style Fulci is what you're after, best stick with The Beyond.
Severin's Region 1 release of Door Into Silence comes in 1:33 :1 format with no extras.
1st Nov 04 Above all though, it is the relationship between John and Laura Baxter which is the film’s central focus throughout, and the gradual disintegration of their relationship amidst a haze of grief.