The Beyond/Review 1
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Lucio Fulci's original film print of The Beyond had been lost for over 25 years until the late Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski found a print and put the film together under their Grindhouse Releasing label. What they did was something horror lovers were waiting a long time for. This print of the cult classic is beautifully restored and remastered. You can now watch it in all its Italian gory glory. We also have to thank another gorehound named Quentin Tarantino for his great DVD label, Rolling Thunder Pictures, which The Beyond is co-released under.
The film opens in Louisiana, 1927. We see a painter named Schweick (Antoine Saint John) alone in his room at a hotel working on his art. Meanwhile, some townspeople are floating down a river towards the hotel. We can only suspect that they are going to cause trouble with the constant cross cutting. The look of this opening sequence was shot in color, but cinematographer Sergio Salvati uses a brown sepia tone to give it that special spaghetti western flashback effect. After the locals find Schweick in his room, they proceed to lash him with iron chains and this is where Lucio Fulci's trademark gore FX come into play. With each crash of the chain, Shweiks skin is torn open and blood begins to seep out. Fulci takes great care to let each shot play out so that we are repulsed, but thrilled at the same time.
After dragging Shweik to a dark, grungy basement, and lashing him even more, the locals nail him to a wall with metal spikes. This isn't the worst part... after successfully pinning him to the wall, they take buckets and shovels full of quicklime and throw it on Shweik's body and face. Then, as Fabio Frizzi's funky score kicks in, we watch as the acid slowly corrodes Shweik. What an opening!!!
Flash forward to 1981. A young beauty named Liza Merrill (Catriona MacColl) has come into owning the hotel and she's trying to restore it. A local painter is on a scaffold and suddenly he sees a white eyed woman. He then falls to the ground and blood dribbles out of his mouth. Liza and company take care of the injured man and they try to find out what made him fall. He screams "The eyes!". The room the painter saw the mysterious woman in is Room 36, the same room Schweick inhabited. Liza hires a plumber named Joe to fix the leak in the basement. Joe is of course unaware that the wall he's working on is one of the 7 Gates to Hell. A hand flies out at Joe and proceeds to gouge his eyeball right out!
Throughout the rest of the film, Liza meets several people including Emily (Sarah Keller), a blind girl who warns her about the evil in the hotel and a local doctor (played by David Warbeck) who helps her get through all the strange events going on. You might notice that the film doesn't really have a solid storyline, instead it's a sequence of images and sounds that are meant to give you the feeling that you are IN The Beyond where no one is safe from evil forces. NOTE: Watch out for some funny little moments including a shot of a "DO NOT ENTRY" sign in the hospital and Liza delivering the line: "You have carte blanche, but NOT a blank check."
Lucio Fulci's cinema team, headed by make-up/FX artist Gianetto De Rossi, did an incredible job of creating the visual effects. The Italian film crews really were masters of on-the-spot invention and they were brilliant at making something from nothing. The Beyond contains things you just wont see in other horror films, including: acid destroying skin, heads exploding, a killer tarantula attack on a man's face and lots of eye gouging and popping. You'll also see a dog ripping out a woman's throat.
Fulci's style was very exploitive as far as the shocks went, but he also had an artistic eye as well. I think that's one reason many film lovers consider him a master. He was capable of both really grossing you out, and bringing an intelligence and surrealistic quality to a story that, by another director, just wouldn't have the same impact.
This movie is one of my personal favorites. Fulci really took horror to another level with his unique direction, SFX and atmospherics. He was not afraid to be over the top or to go too far with his art. I definitely appreciate that.
A wonderful job by Grindhouse Releasing on this Italian gore classic.
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He is currently majoring in Communications and Interactive Media Design.