Monday, August 22, 2011

The Beyond (1981)

While 'Cannibal Holocaust' might have been one of the first movies to get me interested in Gore, Lucio Fulci was the one who showed me the beauty in the carnage. The Italian director is known for his surrealistic films, and brutal violence. The first film I saw by Fulci was 'Gates of Hell' which was when I was searching out any zombie related film. From there I saw 'Zombi 2', and then I found what many consider to be his masterpiece, 'The Beyond'.

One of the best things about 'The Beyond' is that it combines elements from so many different genres. Part haunted house flick, half zombie gore; 'The Beyond' offers something for almost any horror fan. For this viewing of Fulci's 'The Beyond' Jason and I were able to catch a 35mm print at The Coolidge Corner Theater. This was a film that I was very excited to cross off my list of movies to see on the big screen.

In 1927 Louisiana a lynch mob descends on the Seven Doors Hotel. A painter by the name of Schweik works on his macabre creation, inspired by the mystic book Eibon, in his hotel room, number 36. The mob enters the building, and breaks into Schweik's room; assaulting him in the face with a metal chain, and accusing him of being a warlock. The mob then drags him down into the basement where they nail his wrists to the wall, and pour quicklime on his face.

Present Day (1981) a woman by the name of Liza (Catrina MacColl) has inherited the hotel, and is fixing it up to re-open. Unfortunately, the house was built on one of the Seven Doors to Hell, and her renovations have awoken Satan himself. When construction workers start dying horrible deaths, a mysterious blind woman named Emily (Cinzia Monreale) warns Liza to abandon the hotel. Doctor John McCabe (David Warbeck)tells Liza that there's nothing to worry about, and to continue renovations. However when the body of Schweik shows up in the basement, John starts seeing the symbols of Eibon. Soon the forces of Hell spew forth the dead, and John and Liza must fight to stay alive.

The first thing that I enjoyed about the film was of course the special effects. Italian genre films from the late '70s and '80s have some of the best gore effects in cinema history. Germano Natali has done some great effects for films like 'Suspiria', and 'Deep Red' but 'The Beyond' has some of the best violence of all time. We see heads exploding, spiders devouring a face, eyes gouges, and the aforementioned death of Schweik. For those gore-hounds looking to wet their appetite look no further than 'The Beyond'.

The score by Fabio Frizzi is one of my favorites of all time. The choir and piano main theme is very atmospheric, and the score helps elevate the direction of cinematographer Sergio Salvati. Salvati has done all of Fulci's big horror titles, but I really think that his best work is with 'The Beyond'. The scenes down the flooded basement ooze with dread, and with the score by Frizzi, the direction of Lucio Fulci really shines through. Though, while able to raise your fears through the use of camera trickery and brilliant composers, he orchestrates the violence to shock and gross you out. This technique allows for you never to get settled in what you're watching, and should keep you glued to what's happening.

The only negative criticism I could give this Horror Classic is that the English dubbing is just awful. I would love to see a subtitled release at some point, but that is more than likely on any of the DVD releases by Anchor Bay. By all means 'The Beyond' is not a film for everyone. While enjoyable by a Horror fan for the effects, and atmosphere it is pretty damned out there. A lot of the happenings you just have to accept as going on, as we're never really clued into what exactly the powers of Eibon can be. The best bet is to turn off your mind, and enjoy the surrealistic elements of the story and the fantastic gore effects on the screen.

'The Beyond' has a few releases with Anchor Bay, and the rights are currently held with Grindhouse Releasing.

A random trivia fact you probably don't care about!

Did you know that 'The Beyond' is one of Quentin Tarantino's favorite movies? So much in fact that he was one of the primary reasons for an unrated release of the film, and the 35mm print that tours the country!

Rating: 5 out of 5 Trash Bags


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