Monday, February 11, 2008

The Beyond (1981)

For today's review we have The Beyond, the masterpiece of Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci.

Plot summary:
An old New Orleans hotel just happens to have been constructed over a gateway to hell. A new owner moves in and begins renovating the property, inadvertently unleashing the dark forces contained there.

The film is admittedly something of an acquired taste. One aspect of the film that can be off-putting for unsuspecting viewers is the insane amount of gore that Fulci tosses up on screen. This was more-or-less a trademark of Fulci's (and Italian horror in general), and could be disturbing to viewers with weak stomachs. The movie's second stumbling block has to do with the frequent lapses in logic inherent in the story. I read somewhere once that Fulci was more concerned with creating atmospheric visuals in his films than he was in cultivating a cohesive narrative, and The Beyond does seem to adhere to that framework. If I had to describe it, I'd say that it has the logic of a nightmare; one of those where you can't get away from whatever's chasing you no matter how far or fast you run. It doesn't always make since, but it's definitely very atmospheric.

As for the DVD, it's a pretty decent package. The best features are two interviews included on the disc, one with Fulci (conducted shortly before his death) and another with the principle actors that was done at a horror convention around the time of the film's theatrical re-release in the late 1990's. They're not all that informative, but they're interesting nonetheless. Unfortunately, the disc seems to have gone out of print recently, so it may be hard to track down a copy. Even so, it's worth the effort if you enjoy gory, atmospheric zombie flicks. If you do, they don't get any better than this one.

Link(s) of interest:
The Beyond theatrical trailer

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