Director – Lucio Fulci
Cast – Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar, Anthony Flees, Giovanni De Nava, Al Cliver, Michele Mirabella, Gianpaolo Saccarola
Release Year – 1981
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film I remember loving the first time I saw it, and after several years since my initial viewing I am pleased to say that The Beyond is even more awesome to me now than it was back then. The second entry into famed Italian horror director Lucio Fulci’s “Death Trilogy”, which includes City of the Living Dead and The House By The Cemetery, this watch is my personal favorite of the group, and provides some of the best horror scenes of all time thanks to the “Godfather of Gore”.
Liza Merril(Catriona MacColl; City of the Living Dead, The House By The Cemetery) has inherited an old motel deep in Louisiana, and has chosen to leave her New York lifestyle in hopes of fixing up her new dwelling. When mysterious and deadly supernatural events begin to take place around the motel, further investigation leads Liza to a terrifying revelation; the hotel has been built on one of the seven gateways to hell, a gateway that has now been reopened after a horrifying event that took place there in the late 1920s.
There is a reason why Lucio Fulci has remained an icon to horror fans, and The Beyond proves just why. Fulci’s ability to gracefully show true horror and macabre is mind-numbing, and he compliments his horror with nauseating atmosphere and excellent execution. As far as his most popular films go, this one has to be one of the best, if not his best as far as execution goes.
Right from the get-go we are thrown into Fulci’s spooky atmospheric feel that he employs so well, and from then on out the feel and tension never truly relent. His sets are once again always amazing, and his camerawork and lighting provide the most captivating horror he can get out of each and every appropriate scene. As usual, his musical score is top notch and aids heavily on creating lots of spook for the viewer as well. Of course, with a director like Lucio Fulci you have to be wondering “Well, how is the gore?”, and to be honest…it is AMAZING. The opening sequence comes to us drenched in some high quality gore, and the rest of the film follows-up with some truly memorable gore/kill sequences that will stand as some of horror’s finest. As usual with Fulci, he continues his slow and well-developed kill sequences that spare no boundaries and take the viewer on a visual trip that they are sure to never forget. What makes these scenes even more awesome is that thanks to Fulci’s perfect execution the visual experience does not end there, and the mental anguish over what you are watching slowly develop before you kicks in, and from then on out whether you like it or not…Lucio Fulci has won.
Story-wise this watch is a sweet one. The overall plot is awesome to me because I personally love anything having to do with a gateway to Hell being opened, as well as horror films involving the protagonist inheriting something evil. If you put yourself in that situation, inheriting something you know little about, then noticing some truly horrible things going on regarding your inheritance is pretty damn scary, so it works for me. Now Fulci has never been known as a great writer, and it does tend to show when you get down to the bare bones of the plot. We get quite a few plot holes thrown in, including some scenes that possibly will make little to no sense at all to some viewers, but you need to understand that that is simply how Fulci films work. You really cannot watch this film in the same attitude as you would watch a Christopher Nolan film. Fulci’s films have plots that allow for him to do everything he wants to do as a director, not a writer. That does not mean that he is a horrible writer, it just means that he uses his writing to his benefit as a director, which I have no problem with whatsoever because he makes it worthwhile given he is simply a damn good director.
Overall, The Beyond is an amazing watch and is definitely one of Lucio Fulci’s best films. We get amazing direction that comes with awesome gore/kills, unique and spooky visuals, and excellent execution that leads to some good spooks. The story comes along with great horror as well, and may leave you considering finding out what Hellish underworld your home is built over.