The Beyond is Lucio Fulci’s best-known film, and a legitmate cult favorite. It was re-released into theaters by Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures a few years back, and finally saw uncut release on DVD through Grindhouse Releasing, after years of only being available in the States as a heavily edited version under the title Seven Doors of Death.
That said, watching The Beyond for the marathon is only the second time I’ve ever seen it. Somehow, I’ve seen City of the Living Dead way more, and tomorrow’s movie — House By the Cemetery — even more than that.
Still, out of the Gates of Hell trilogy, it’s the film with the most coherent plot. A warlock’s entombed in the basment of a Louisiana hotel, someone sets him free, madness ensues. There’s more detail in terms of specific insanity, but that’s basically how it goes.
The dubbing’s a little better in this go-’round, but the general tenor of The Beyond is essentially the same as City of the Living Dead, in that people are attacked by things from the netherworld, but it’s far, far more gory.
It’s a madly hallucenogenic film. Fulci creates an atmosphere of nightmarish dreamscapes, wherein flesh is bloodily rent and things appear out of nowhere to cause frightened panic. Fabio Frizzi is once again on music duties, with a piano-based score which further imbues the film with a sense of impending dischord.
There’s also a scene where a little girl watches her mother’s face get melted off with acid.
It’s unfortunately not very evenly paced. The beginning is a series of shocking images and terrifying actions, and the conclusion is justifiably famous, but the middle third drags. It’s pretty heavy on Catriona MacColl asking a bunch of questions, finding a bunch of things, and looking confused. By the time people start dying again, it’s almost a relief to watch spiders crawl over a guy’s face.
Also in The Beyond: dead characters that were last seen in a morgue or other locaion suddenly appearing in the hotel. I’m assuming the gate to hell allows for teleportation? The confusion Fulci creates in the viewer certainly does a wonderful job of allowing us to empathize with the characters onscreen.