Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Beyond

Year: 1981
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenplay: Giorgio Mariuzzo, Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti, from a story by Dardano Sacchetti
Starring: Catriona McColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar
Running Time: 89 minutes
Genre: Horror, supernatural, zombie

Summary: Louisiana 1927: A lynch mob break into the Seven Doors Hotel and brutally murder a painter, Schweik (Saint-John), who is living there.
In 1981, New Yorker Liza Merril (McColl) inherits the run-down hotel from her uncle. The renovations are plagued by a series of increasingly severe and bizarre "accidents". A blind psychic girl, Emily (Monreale), informs Liza that the hotel was built above one of the seven gateways to Hell. Along with local doctor John McCabe (Warbeck), Liza finds herself pitted against nightmarish supernatural forces as the dead begin to rise and attack the living.

Opinions: This gruesome Italian horror film is often cited as the masterpiece of it's director Lucio Fulci who made his name with films such as Zombie (1979) and City of the Living Dead (1980). Certainly the film doesn't stint on gore and is full of blood and flesh tearing special effects.
The film doesn't really make a lot of sense, especially towards the end, but that isn't really important as the film works in a kind of dreamlike sense and is purely nightmarish. Aside from the zombies and flesh eating tarantulas, the film is full of dream like images, some of which are very powerful.
The special effects are effective and should provide plenty of moments to startle even jaded gore hounds. The dialogue is very obviously dubbed but that was common practice in Italian films and in any way it helps to make the film even more bizarrely surreal.
The symbol which appears prominently at various points of the film was taken from a tattoo which Fulci's fourteen year old daughter got.
Horror films and connoiseurs of cult cinema won't want to miss this one.
Incidentally, in some prints of the film which are currently available, the opening sequence is in black-and-white, when it was originally intended to be in sepia.

Catriona McColl and David Warbeck in The Beyond

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