Italian horror director Lucio Fulci, aptly nicknamed the godfather of Gore, created his supremely stylish (and declining terrifying) supernatural zombie film Beyond in 1980 and divided the filming between picturesque New Orleans and the studio in Italy. He was not released in the United States until 1983 in a heavily abbreviated format and returned to the film “Seven Doors of Death.” He has achieved several successes overseas and gained several fans who loved his live cinema, the terrifying atmosphere and the top effects of gore, which are in no short numbers and the stomach is spewing to this day.
The film did not see an unedited American release until 1998, almost 20 years after it was made, when horror fanatic Quentin Tarantino had it revived and performed at festivals around the country, and the unedited version was released on a US DVD shortly thereafter. The Beyond is the second installment in Fulci’s notorious Trilogy of Death, which includes Gates of Hell (aka City of the Living Dead) and The Cemetery House and more than satisfies viewers who enjoyed one of these films or Italian gore films in general. It’s one of Fulci’s fastest and most conventionally entertaining films, but it’s also full of the director’s trademarks of enduring, poetic films.
The opening prologue of 1927 is an example of Fulci’s affinity for depicting torture and murder in the Mafia and has a young artist in a Louisiana hotel named Schweike (Antoine Saint-John), accused of enraged vigilant crowds of witchcraft magic and brutally beaten by chains, crucified nails and melted on a skeleton with buckets of lime acid. 54 years later, New York model and dancer Liza Merril (Catriona MacColl, who also played in the gates of hell and the cemetery house) inherits the now abandoned property and plans to restore and reuse it as an inn. But fortunately, the hotel is being persecuted and does not want to be reopened, and soon the spirit of Schweike trapped in the house is liberated and ready to create confusion for the world. In the end, he does this by turning the corpses of a nearby morgue into re-established zombies under his control, and it’s up to the League and local doctor John McCabe (David Warbeck) to end his bloody reign of terror.
The heavy gore in The Beyond became almost mystical in his gresky. Plumber Joe (Giovanni De Nava) has a rotten but powerful hand that cracked the wall in the basement of the hotel and kicked in Joe’s face; the sinister hotel maid and custodian Martha (Inferno’s Veronica Lazar) is stabbed with her back to her head on a rusty nail on the wall that pulls her right eye out of the socket; there is a scene where a person is alive by living tarantulas, with ugly animals that pulled his eye from the base and pulled down. An ominous young blind woman with psychic abilities named Emily (Cinzia Monreale from the buried alive Joe D’Amata), who warns Lisa that the hotel is obsessed with evil forces and that she should leave the place, her ear is bitten and her throat is torn. it opens with its own eye when the animal seizes Schweike’s spirit.
In the bizarre scene, which has a widow dressing her husband’s corpse in the morgue, fast lime acid is used more when a glass of caustic substances mysteriously spills from the top shelf all over her face and head and melts her body. The talented special effects artist Giannetto De Rossi, who has often worked on Fulci’s films, shows much more work here, as does veteran cinematographer Sergio Salvati. Beyond is charged with small eccentricities that positively identify him as a Fulci film, such as the strong use of a zoom lens and the close-up of the characters’ eyes when they experience fear and / or pain. As a side note, I highly recommend the Aquarius Release DVD for its bonus commentary track with stars Catriona MacColl and David Warbeck (who unfortunately died shortly after recording of neck cancer).
The Beyond is one of Lucia Fulci’s most popular films. It has a great smoky atmosphere in New Orleans (although it was mostly filmed on an Italian studio part), which reminds me a lot of the classic necrophilia Lamberto Bava from 1980 Macabre (Frozen Terror). Like the other Death Trilogy movies, The Beyond is cryptic, bloody, and certainly not for all tastes, but those horror fans who master his bloody, mysterious nature are likely to love it. I consider it the best film in the gore-laden supernatural Death Trilogy and rate it 7.5 out of 10.