Attention: Only the true hardcore horror fans need apply here, as anyone familiar with the powerful and incredible visual presented in the Italian horror cinema, they already know about The Beyond, as a masterpiece to both Fulci fans and elements of extreme excessiveness. This movie doesn’t hold anything back, delivering gore, and strives forward providing a spooky haunted house tale layering itself boldly, with strong gloried gore supplying hideous wonderment to the viewers. When true gore-hounds and splatterpunks harkened back to the extreme horror films, this movie serves as a fine example, when a director goes all out breaking barriers and rules knowing the lasting impression his film will have, giving him a lasting legacy. So many horror films of today have scenes of filler, to pad the screen time, and namely nothing of interest occurs, not so with The Beyond, the candy carnage overflows with a heavily provoking endorsement to emphasize colorful gore, covering the images of death. Lucio Fulci was the master of sick and twisted imagery, his influence continues to this day, though likely not to the extreme of his embrace, but the excitement he generated for the fans gives him an enduring quality for his legacy. Fulci took conventional horror stories, added extreme and colorful gore, and combined them. This flick is the second part of his legendary death trilogy, the bookend movies were City of the Living Dead (1980) and The House by the Cemetery (1981). In addition, The Beyond never reached the shores of America, legally in an uncut form until 1998, when Grindhouse Releasing tracked down the original master & restored the film, so the fans could enjoy a series of tenuously linked gore splattered sequences. His films generate financial rewards, from legions of fans and scathing reviews of both praise and condemnation, which granted him the ability to develop a basic story filled with gross actions and gory beauty.
The film’s opening contains an extremely violent death scene in the film thereby establishing both a baseline and the tone for all the carnage that follows, similar to how many action films open nowadays with a chase sequence to engage viewers. The on-screen information tells the time and place, 1920s in Louisiana, at a hotel in the outskirts of town that is currently being overrun by angry villagers capturing their target a painter name Schweick (Antoine Saint-John) with very oddly designed paintings. The townsfolks murder Schweick underneath the hotel in a gross and gruesome manner. A quick time warp to 1981 noting the year of the film’s release, easy connection, where the lead actress Catrion MacColl (The House by the Cemetery )) portrays the centralized character name Liza and transplanted New York to the Big Easy after inheriting the neglected infamous hotel from her uncle. However, the task becomes a heavy burden, as the workers constantly have horrible accidents, and leading to a dreadful series of doom pending situations. The plot for The Beyond is basic, based from a story from Dardano Sacchetti and assisted by screenwriters Giorgio Mariuzzo (Aenigma ) and Fulci himself, even with their influence it still only had a loose structure all awaiting the maestro to enhance the mold for an exquisite ride of horror. The ride engages with Joe the plumber, when he accidentally opens the grave in the basement resulting in his eyeballs gouged out, and becoming a zombie. His body is transported to the morgue (hospital) and his wife arrives tearfully and strangely collapses on the floor and gets a lovely acid bath on her face, all displayed in front of their little girl who also had a dreadful end, talk about keeping it in family. Meanwhile Liza meets a blind woman, named Emily/Sarah Keller (Night Claws ) and her guide dog Dicky, in a very odd manner, then again maybe not, she tried to warn Liza about the history of the hotel (doorway to Hell), especially room number 36. However, not hearing any of the mumbo-jumbo Liza entered the haunted room, discovering the ancient book of Eibon (think Necronomicon) but it and other displays all vanish. A rundown of death, and heighten to extreme all making for a lasting impression of Martin a friend a Liza seeking blueprints of the hotel, ravaged by spiders, while Martha meets an unpleasant Joe and unkindly hits the head on the nail, with some eye gouging precision. Martha’s death references, once again, the classic eye torture scene from Fulci’s classic Zombie (1979) film and stellar inclusion.
One needs to look past the muddled and highly unrefined plot, and witness the rise of zombies or and struggling to comprehend all the terror arises the lead couple of Dr. John McCabe (late David Warbeck, RIP 1997 (Craze )) and Liza, which is easy when the horror splatters everywhere in the film. There are plenty of flesh tearing, eyes gouging, blood spurting, and faces melted by acid to satisfy any gore-hound. As the zombie brigade is less than the normal or typical modern zombies and rather they are ghosts from Hell, hence their teeth don’t gnaw on the flesh of the living, though a bullet to the head puts them down – don’t try to rationalize it just enjoy. If one craves a bit of flesh biting watch out for Dicky he shows his pearly whites very well and look out for the ridiculous spider scene as well. The movie brings the dead and shoot-out scenes, and ends likely with the most gloomy and haunting reminder of scary horrors that awaits in hell and with no escape from it. The trivia surrounding the film has a legendary infamous take on it and adds to the astonishing set pieces and the usage of the real location, now known as Otis House at Fairview-Riverside State Park all takeover for the plot pitfalls. The Beyond delivers a claustrophobic situation at times, and allowed the extremism in the horror to transcend in a spiraling madness of nightmarish delights for the horror fans.
Director Fulci appears in two cameos in his masterpiece of filmmaking, and shows the dedication of resources and a proper budget of $400,000 anything can ooze down the screen and shock or stirs other emotions in the audience. The makeup artists of Giannetto De Rossi (Killer Crocodile ) and Maurizio Trani (Zombie Holocaust aka Doctor Butcher M.D. ) gave overwhelming creations of terror and delivered wonderful amounts of gore for the early 1980s. One area where Fulci’s work often finds itself criticized is a lack of coherent narrative, which one honestly must agree with nevertheless the movie contains violence, thrills, graphic face splatters and fabulous gore moments.
Allow, one to repeat this rule “To kill a Zombie, you have to shoot it in the head,” watch the movie and you’ll understand, laughter will emit from the audience, during this sequence. Not many horror films generate lasting impressions, and even fewer have frightening images to endure, while satisfying horror fans for generations. This movie also influences culture from posters, to statues to the Swedish band Europe basing their third song “Seven Doors Hotel” from their first album in 1983, on this film. Other death metal bands have referenced the artwork to the film in their songs, and this reviewer even owns a limited tin box of the 20,000 issued from Grindhouse Releasing and Anchor Bay. This version features three trailers, interviews and commentaries, the music video from Necrophagia’s music video “And You Will Live in Terror” and much more. Even now a 3-disc Blu-ray DVD collector’s edition find itself in demand, and just like that this movie will greatly influence filmmakers and fans for decades, and simply state: Watch It! I’d recommend this film greatly especially if you hunger for true meaning of tons of gore and then The Beyond is your movie.
This was originally done on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website as an anniversary article that celebrated 35 years of gory beauty and garnished a view count of 2,113.
- Behind this doorway lie the terrifying and unspeakable secrets of hell. No one who sees it lives to describe it. And you shall live in darkness for all eternity.
- The seven dreaded gateways to hell are concealed in seven cursed places… And from the day the gates of hell are opened, the dead will walk the earth.
IMDb Rating: 6.8/10
Baron’s Rating: 7.0/10