The Beyond (1981)
Director: Lucio Fulci
A hot chickadee (McColl) inherits an old hotel in New Orleans which happens to be built on top of one of the seven gates that leads to that wondrous place we call Hell. The renovations are imminently interrupted by an exploding piñata of zombies and gory meatballs!
"Woe be unto him who opens one of the seven gateways to Hell, because through that gateway, evil will invade the world."— Emily
And my Lucio Fulci: 101 class continues! Having been introduced to the Italian Duke of Gore not too long ago via the slick “Zombie” and the slicker “Gates of Hell”, I popped in his most fan-celebrated oeuvre with the joyish anticipation of a grinning Charlie Sheen about to get spanked by twin Playboy Playmates dressed in Flight Attendant uniforms…with no panties on! Yes, I was that excited! Thankfully, the Fulci-Machine, once more, did not let my lust for horror down.
Granted, this totally insane, against mainstream norms, all over the damn freaking barnhouse zombie party was not for everybody. The film had a particular pace, an offbeat sense of humor and a zany structure of its own with a wandering storyline that was definitely left open to interpretation. To be honest, as the end credits rolled, I was somewhat bamboozled as to what I had just witnessed…and you know what…I LOVED THAT! It felt great not to be babied through a film, especially a zombie opus. This one gave my brain a sprint for their cells! But fear not slaughter fiends, even if the substance leaves you in the dust, you’ll still get enough vicious genre kicks to the pallet to warrant toughing it out. Allow me to elaborate.
The endearing atmosphere glued to this film and its ever-changing tone was one of the highlights for me. The thick aura of decay and the hypnotizing surreal vibe (loved the bluish hues) often clashed and in consequence, delivered a delicious novel mood. Horror movies don’t ooze like that anymore, that’s for sure! The cherry on top of that bowl of ice cream was, without a doubt, the chunky, sprayed-about, full-on gore. As the French say: “Ou-la-la-la-la, pass me a bread stick or I’ll kill you fucker”! Not only did Fulci not hold back on the red meat, but his eyeball fetish was also pleasurably solidified here. I have never seen so many nasty ocular mishaps in one freaking movie. Eyes are scooped out, munched on by spiders, impaled out the back of one’s skull…FUN TIMES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY…even the pet dog! Trust me, keep the nachos away from your gaping mouth while watching this one...unless you want to cover it in “homemade” salsa.
To add compliment to compliment, even the flick’s shortcomings and silly moves wound up contributing to its fun factor! I’m talking over-dramatic musical beats, corny yet tasty dialogue, people’s lack of reaction to threatening undead peeps, a doctor's logical disregard for all the unscientific happenings and my favorite: plugging a 6-year old dead corpse to a heartbeat monitor. What???? Trust me, he’s dead dude! I guess there’s something to be said about being thorough. My only “real” peeves with "The Beyond" were that I found some of the scene transitions a bit too choppy for my liking, the music was used in a redundant fashion in places and I felt very frustrated when the good doctor just wouldn’t grasp that “head shots”, not body shots, were what killed zombies. Come on, bro! Work with me here!
Other than that, I have no complaints about this ambitious, unique, super-gory and at times, hilarious genre bruiser. In the mood for some fine Italian cuisine with a side order of human eye balls? Go Beyond!
The effects by Germano Natali ("Deep Red") and the makeup by Gino De Rossi (Zombie) came through gangbusters! We get a slashed face, nailed wrists, faces melted by acid, a scooped out eyeball, an eyeball popped out by a spike inserted behind the head, ripped out throat, feasted on head, a whopper of a head shot, more head shots, gun shot wounds to the body, spiders feasting on eyeballs and lips. ALL YOU CAN EAT!
Catriona MacColl (Liza) held her own like a champ and was gorgeous to boot! David Warbeck (John) was perfect as the straight-faced no-bull “hero”. Sarah Keller (Emilie) was dead-on as the mysterious blind woman. Veronica Lazar (Martha) did what she had to do adequately.
T & A
Nothing…that’s odd….did I forget a peek-a-boo nipple or something?
Fulci stayed true to himself by injecting this affair with countless close-ups of eyes, lots of zoom ins and outs and extremely close shots of gory happenings while coating the whole in either a morbid or a dream-like feel. NOTE: I was salivating in joy when that “car scene” with the blind woman came about. Now that’s a well put together bit! Surreal, well shot and simply captivating. The real deal!
The strong score by Fabio Frizzi was very varied in terms of ambiance, giving the movie many flavors. I did find its use redundant in places though.
o echo the great Johnny Depp in “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”: Guys, you really must try this original and off-kilter Undead Italian dish. It's an incredibly gory and intentionally/un-intentionally funny offering and it just happens to be one of my favorites. I order it with a tequila and lime in every dive I go to. In fact, it's too good. It's so good that when I'm finished, I'll pay my check, walk straight into the kitchen and shoot the cook. "The Beyond" is that kind of movie!
This film cost roughly $400,000 to make.
Fulci has a brief, unaccredited cameo as a librarian.
Avoid the butchered R-rated version of this film entitled "Seven Doors of Death".
80’s Meal band Europe have a song inspired by this film called "Seven Doors Hotel".
Actress Catriona MacColl also worked with Fulci on "Gates of Hell" and "House by the Cemetery".