The Beyond

Although I am a fan of horror flicks, I must admit that I haven’t seen anything by Lucio Fulci and to avoid ignoring the work of this cult favourite director/producer/screenwriter I thought I’d pick of his films to watch last night. I picked The Beyond because when I googled it I saw this pic of a real beauty and thought, why not? The Beyond is a 1981 Italian horror film shot in Louisiana and second film in Fulci’s unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy (along with City of the Living Dead and The House by the Cemetery)

Ok so in 1927 Louisiana an artist named Schweick is attacked by a lynch mob in a hotel who believe that he is a warlock. They torture him and nail him to the wall of a basement and lay bricks over him. This opens up one of the seven doors to hell which allows the dead to come into the world of the living. A young woman named Emily reads from a book titled Eibon and she turns blind (with some weird looking marble eyes) once she is done. Several decades later, in 1981, Liza comes to Louisiana from New York as her uncle who died had left the hotel in her name. She decides to work on renovating it and reopening but the work reopens the door to hell and accidents happen. A painter falls and injures himself badly and Joe a plumber is attacked while he is checking a bad flood in the basement and killed horrifically by a demonic hand that comes out from a hole in the wall. The maid Martha finds his deformed face and body. Liza meets Emily on the road and gives her a lift to her house which is near the hotel and is given a warning by the latter – stay away from the hotel. Later Joe’s wife is killed as she visits his body in the hospital morgue – her young daughter hears a scream and finds her body on the floor with her face being dissolved by a spilled bottle of acid that fell on a table.

Poor Liza has now befriended the doctor who came to help the painter, Dr. John McCabe and tells him about how she came to move to Louisiana. John is alerted about Joe’s widow dying in the hospital and at the double funeral Liza runs into Joe’s daughter Jill, and doesn’t notice that the girl has become blind like Emily. Once again Emily warns Liza about the hotel and leaves as quickly as she appears, apparently scared by something. The next day Liza sees the book Eibon in room 36 (where the artist Schweick was staying) and also finds the artists decaying corpse animated but as she runs to fetch John, the corpse and the book disappears. John feels that Liza is hallucinating and tells her that Emily’s house is abandoned and no one has seen her at all – she isn’t real. On a walk with her friend Martin, Liza encounters a book shop with Eibon in the window. When they go inside, the shop owner denies the book’s existence, and it is no longer in the window when they look for it. At the hotel, a worker named Arthur, attempts to repair the same leak as Joe, only to be killed offscreen by ghouls. Later Martin is stuck by lightning while at the library looking up the hotel’s blueprints and after he falls he is attacked by huge tarantulas (that make sounds like creaky hinges that need oil) and they butcher his face and kill him.

Back at the hotel Joe’s animated corpse appears from a bathtub and attacks Martha and she dies when he pushes her head against a nail. Emily meanwhile is sitting alone at night when zombie versions of Schweick, Joe, Mary-Anne, and Arthur attack her. She sets her dog on them but they turn it into a zombie and it kills Emily by biting at her throat and face. Just after this Liza is attacked by the zombies at the hotel but John rescues her and they run to the hospital. Everyone has disappeared from the streets and except for Jill & Harris, a fellow doctor, there are only reanimated zombie corpses who shuffle about slowly and attack the living. In trying to escape Harris is killed and Jill becomes possessed and is shot by John. The doctor finds that he can kill off a zombie by shooting at the heads but idiot keeps wasting bullets shooting everywhere else! Finally out of bullets Liza & John run into the basement but find themselves in another dimension, a wasteland of dead bodies and desolate wasteland which Schweick had painted in one of his work before he was killed. They walk off and disappear, stuck in a kind of purgatory for all eternity.

The movie has tons of bad acting (I think a lot of it is dubbed to English, isn’t it) and laughable horror special effects that wouldn’t scare small kids. And the “zombies” are hilarious; they shuffle around with their heads looking down, like shy innocent Indian brides on their arranged marriage wedding night heading to their new husbands and about to be deflowered. I guess back then this would have been very scary but I don’t find it to be so at all. The death scenes were mildly interesting. The ending scene is good though when they head out to a desolate wasteland. Although I do have to say this – both Katherine MacColl & Cinzia Monreale are beautiful women. Really lovely! I was hoping for some skin. 5 outta 10! Oh and I found out that Swedish band Europe’s 1983 song Seven Doors Hotel (seven doors to hell) from their self-titled debut album is inspired by this film.

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