Whatever your thoughts on Lucio Fulci are, there can be no denying that with 'The Beyond' he had made not only his greatest movie but perhaps one of the finest horror movies from that era of Italian genre cinema.
The film opens in Louisiana back in 1927, where a gang of irate locals are converging on an old hotel where a painter with a taste for bizarre fine art is resident. The yokels are convinced that the luckless artist is a warlock that has brought much misery and a curse to their lives, so after beating him with chains they crucify him to the hotel's cellar wall then cement him in. While this is happening the film intercuts to a young girl who is reading from a book of prophecies called 'Eibon', a book that tells of gateways to hell that are located in cursed places!
The scene is set and we cut to modern day Louisiana where we meet Liza Merrill (played by the lovely Katherine MacColl) who has inherited the hotel (from the prologue sequence) from a rich uncle. The hotel is very much run down and during extensive renovation work a painter working on the buildings exterior falls from the scaffolding after seeing the ghostly image of a blind girl. Doctor John McCabe (the wonderful and greatly missed David Warbeck) arrives and sends the injured contractor off to hospital but the spooky happenings continue when the reception bell rings for room 36, but obviously being near derelict there is no resident within! The next morning Joe the plumber arrives to check the hotels flooded basement (yes the same cellar where warlock artist was crucified years before). While hammering to find the source of the water ingress he uncovers the walled tomb of prologues victim. Inspecting wall closely an undead hand reaches out from within and gouges poor Joe's eyes out!
Meanwhile our heroine Liza comes across a strange blind girl (named Emily) whist out driving along a desolate stretch of road and yes it's the same girl we saw briefly during the films intro reading the book of Eibon. Emily warns Liza to leave the hotel and go back home, but unperturbed (although slightly shaken) Liza stays although continues to experience more growingly mysterious creepy occurrences and with good old Doctor David Warbeck at her side the two determine to uncover the secrets behind what's going on! What are the secrets of the hotels violent history? What is the significance of room 36? And if there is such a thing as a gateway of hell how on earth will they be able to close its doors?
Mixing great direction, stunning graphic imagery and classic modern gothic music 'The Beyond' is the sum total of collective genre geniuses at work! Firstly Dardano Sacchetti's storyline is pure downbeat gothic classic which although at times drifts off track (well this is expected from all traditional Italian horror movies) provides Lucio Fulci (who has a cameo role as a southern librarian) with an ideal template to showcase his skills. Fulci's direction is of course delicious with some great set piece scenes that are highlighted by Giannetto Rossi's blood drenched gore effects and let's not overlook the simply stunning score by Fabio Frizzi (who here is at his best!)
If you have never seen 'The Beyond' then make it your plan to do so now - you want supernatural hijinks, zombie onslaught, gore and more then this is the one for you! But how about this DVD release from EC Entertainment? Well sure it doesn't have a multitude of bonus features but the print itself is an absolute stunner!
The image is pin sharp and detailed (though sadly non anarmorphic the widescreen image even looks great when enlarged to fill a widescreen TV), as good as you're ever likely to see it and the audio (although perhaps just slightly too high on the treble front) is similarly impressive also. As for extras you'll only find a trailer for the film itself and the now standard trailer for 'Blade in the Dark' as well as a nice collection of stills from the film itself. So by no means a special edition but a lovely presentation and a nice purchase as generally available at a budget price.
A supernatural gothic horror classic filled with blood and gore - Lucio Fulci's finest hour on a solid welcome PAL DVD release. Lovely stuff!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by EC Entertainment|
|Region - All (PAL)|
|Rated - 16 (uncut)|
|Theatrical trailer, Stills Gallery|