April 7, 2012

Filthy Review - The Beyond

The Beyond (1981)

Review by Jude Felton

As a teenager the horror films of Lucio Fulci, such as Zombie, House by the Cemetery and The Beyond became something in the vein of a Holy Grail quest. They were mentioned in various magazines as some of the goriest movies out there, and of course they weren’t easy to find. Eventually I got around to seeing them, as well as picking up the Vipco release, which incidentally came with some of the worst, or laziest, cover art ever. Still, it’s the movie that counts and quite frankly The Beyond is a class act.

Recently I threw down the cash to pick up the Blu-ray release of The Beyond by Arrow Video and it is a thing of beauty. This is how to package a movie; a poster, reversible sleeves with different artwork, a booklet and a multitude of extras spread over the two discs. These alone almost make it worth the asking price. Of course, it is all about the movie and I was keen to see how this gory and logic-defying slice of Italian horror looked in HD.

The movie itself starts off with a good old-fashioned lynching back in 1920’s Louisiana, as Schweick, who is suspected of being a warlock, is hunted down and unceremoniously buried alive. Brutal stuff, believe me. Fast forward to the present day, well, the 1980’s anyway, and Liza has inherited the hotel that Schweick was buried beneath. She plans to renovate it and sets about her task. One of the first priorities is the flooding in the basement, so she calls in Joe the plumber. It doesn’t end too well for this fella I can tell you.

You see, killing the suspected warlock only served to open one of the seven gates of Hell, in fact The Beyond was also known as Seven Doors of Death, and as such cause a whole barrage of strange, and usually quite violent events to happen in and around the hotel. Liza isn’t on her own though as she sets out to solve this problem. She enlists the help of a local doctor, as well as being warned of the dangers by a blind ghost and her Alsatian.

The plot is loose; it’s one of those films that allow the viewer to interpret it in whichever suits you. Being a Fulci film though he throws in enough splattery gore to keep the bloodthirsty happy. Sure, some of the effects look a little dated in places; especially a scene involving spiders. They are still wonderfully gruesome though and do pack a punch. Add into this insanity a truly terrific score (if only modern horror scores were half as good) and a thoroughly downbeat atmosphere and you have yourself a true horror classic.

As with many Italian horror films the acting can be a little patchy in places, and this is never helped by the dubbing. So, instead of that I just focused on the delightful Catriona MacColl, as Liza, who is the focus of the movie, and puts in a stronger performance here than she did in my favorite Fulci flick; The House by the Cemetery.

The Beyond is just a wonderful movie, and on this release it looks crisp and quite gorgeous. The fact that it looks so good almost works to its detriment, as the hi-def picture will reveal all the flaws of the movie on a visual level, but that being said this is without a doubt the best version of this movie I have seen. Couple this fact that it comes in this excellent packaging I can only say that this is a must buy. No fucking about, just buy it.

If you want logic I suggest you chat with Spock. If you want good old-fashioned gore and madness then watch this. Horror films just aren’t made like this anymore.

1 comment:

Bowie Ibarra said...

A great movie, and good review.

Though I can appreciate HD movies, there's still a special place in my heart for VHS.