There is no doubt when one comes to look at Italian horror cinema in general, two names tend to stand out… Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. Argento is still making films today in varying quality, but 1996 saw the sad passing of Fulci. His final film shot in Louisiana (the same state where his classic The Beyond was made) is a somewhat bloodless affair and not the gore drenched epics you came to expect from him. Unseen for many years, this is, if anything, a thriller with some supernatural overtones to it. Credit for Severin Films for releasing this obscurity as it sits proudly on my shelf now with the more famous Fulci’s such as the aforementioned The Beyond and New York Ripper.
Melvin Devereux is visiting the grave of a family member and when he returns to his car he speaks to an attractive woman in a sports car. He leaves the cemetery and begins the drive back home to his wife and business partner in real estate, Sylvia.
Melvin then has a flashback to his childhood with his father and then encounters a mysterious black hearse which menaces and intrigues him for the entire film. Breaking down in the backstreets of a small town, the mysterious woman appears again and shows him the way to a friendly mechanic and also a local motel. Melvin thinks his luck is in with the mysterious beautiful woman but when he is in the bathroom, she leaves a message for him written in lipstick on the bedroom mirror.
Melvin continues on his journey and meets up again and again with the black hearse. Determined to find out why this hearse is everywhere, Melvin finds a coffin in the back with ‘Devereux’ on it. The film now opens up as the eternally confused Melvin tries to find answers to why this hearse is so important to him.
Playing Melvin is veteran actor John Savage in a somewhat twitchy performance. This isn’t a criticism of the acting style used here but the character of Melvin is not very likeable. In fact, he is willing to sleep with a woman he just met and pay for sex with a young hitch-hiker. It does, however, suit the film very well as Melvin hasn’t a clue what is going on. Also with Savage being the only actor in the film for long periods of time, it helps he delivers a strong performance.
The supporting cast are fine and do their job well. Playing the mysterious woman is Savage’s later wife Sandi Schultz and the creepy hearse driver is an actor by the name of Richard Castleman who has gone on to work with Joe D’Amato (the Executive Producer on this film through his Filmirage company) on his infamous sex epics.
Severin’s print of the film is in the academy ratio of 1:33.1 and in pretty good condition. There is an obvious attempt to anglicise the credit sequence with Fulci not even having his own credit, just some random English sounding name. Shame that his final film didn’t even bear his name. Also, it’s nice to see Laura Gemser’s name pop up, even though only as the costume designer. Finally a big thumbs up to the simply terrific jazz score, which sounds great even in the original mono sound mix. Unusually for Severin, there are no extras but don’t let that put you off.
Door Into Silence is certainly no waste of time. It’s a decent enough swansong for one of cinema’s great directors. He might have made some rubbish, but when Fulci was ticking all the boxes, he could stand with the greatest. It’s definitely one for the completists but also for people who like nice little chillers which don’t outstay their welcome. It would sure be a good film to remake in today’s genre friendly marketplace with a big star, so they could show off their acting chops.