Jul 15, 2010

Posted in 1980s, Films Categories, Flicks by Decades, Italy, James, Reviewers

The Beyond (1981)

The Beyond (1981)

Directed by “The Godfather of Gore” Lucio Fulci and starring Catriona MacColl as Liza Merril and David Warbeck as Dr. John McCabe. This film was co-scripted by Dardano Sacchetti who has had his hand in so many great Italian films like Argento’s Il Gatto A Nove Code aka Cat ‘o Nine Tails, Zombi 2 and Mario Bava’s Reazione a catena (Twitch of the Death Nerve) to name a few. Special Effects were created by Giannetto De Rossi who might be more recognizable for his work on French director Alexandre Aja’s High Tension (Haute Tension).

In1927 there is a hotel in New Orleans where there is an artist named Schweick who has found the key. The hotel is built on one of the seven gates to hell written about in the book of Eibon. The key opens the gate. When the door opens the dead walk and hell ensues. A group of men believing Schweick was into dark work traps him in room 36 which becomes his tomb. They whip him with chains, hammer nails into his wrists and throw acid on his face and torso and watch him melt.

Fast forward to 1981 New Orleans. Liza discovers that she has inherited the hotel and decides to make the project work. But strange things start happening and a man falls from a trestle, badly injured, of course Dr. John McCabe is called upon to help the man. Liza and John form a bond. A blind woman named Emily (who only Liza can see) appears and tries to convince Liza to leave and never come back but especially, never go into room 36.. People start dying and coming back to life and a bullet to the head seems to be the only way to kill them. Has the gate already been opened and if so can it be closed before it is too late.

It’s not the most complicated plot in the world: Hotel built on gate to hell, gate opens, everybody dies and goes to hell…they go to the beyond. Strange things happen that make no logical sense. For instance a woman visits her dead husband pre-autopsy at the hospital (who died at the hotel), where Dr. McCabe works, to dress him, I am thinking it is to protect his dignity in death? I can understand her screaming from seeing the other corpses but there is no reason for her to fall and land exactly underneath the jug of acid that inexplicably falls over and melts her face. We can assume that when she fell she knocked over the jug but from what I could see she was nowhere near it. It just happened. But, if it had not happened we would have been deprived the pleasure of seeing her face get melted in all its gore.

Really though, does it matter because The Beyond is a nightmare. It is like a dream. And because of this anything can happen. It’s not logical. It is full of atmosphere, beautiful cinematography. Great shots used to perfection by a strong editor that helps to bring pace, tension and brutal violence.

The only problem I have with the film, and this is more like a small gripe that does not hurt my opinion of the film, is a special effect in one particular scene. A man is looking for the plans to the hotel in the local library. He is standing on a ladder and as he reaches for the appropriate book he falls off of the ladder as if strange forces were trying to stop him. While laying there disoriented and confused a pack of Tarantulas force their way toward him and proceed to rip apart his face. What they did was use a combination of real Tarantulas and fake ones. The fake ones were so fake that you kind of wanted to laugh if it was not for the effect of them ripping his face apart. But you have to remember that this film was made before they had CGI and computer effects. A great transition is, when John and Liza are in the hospital fighting off the dead they go down some stairs and find themselves in the hotel basement.

In the 2000’s Anchor Bay released what they called The Lucio Fulci Collection. The release that I am working from is The Lucio Fulci Collection vol. 1 (there are 3 vol.) which consists of The House by the Cemetery and The Beyond. A very definite thanks goes to Rolling Thunder Pictures and Grindhouse Releasing for helping to bring this film back to the fans.

This version of The Beyond has some really good special features like an audio commentary with Catriona MacColl and David Warbeck. A lost-German color pre-credit sequence and main titles. And more.

This is considered by many to be his best film. It think I prefer Don’t Torture a Duckling. But this film is amazing and a true nightmare that has the capability to make you fall in love with Italian genre pictures and look at film making in a completely different way. Just because you do not have a lot of money does not mean that you are handy capped. Lucio Fulci was a true pioneer and is sorely lost. Not many people make cinema like this any more.

– By James

Buy The Collection Online
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Rating: 5.0/5 (5 votes cast)
The Beyond (1981), 5.0 out of 5 based on 5 ratings

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