The Beyond (1981)
“The seven dreaded gateways to hell are concealed in seven cursed places… And from the day the gates of hell are opened, the dead will walk the earth.
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale
Synopsis: A young woman inherits an old hotel in Louisiana where after a series of supernatural ‘accidents’, she learns that the building was built over one of the entrances to Hell.
The Beyond (known as …E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldila in its native Italy) is regarded by many horror aficionados as one of cult director Lucio Fulci’s best, and it certainly does contain some eye-catching visuals and memorable set-pieces. Unfortunately, as with much of Fulci’s horror work, The Beyond’s threadbare plot makes very little sense and serves merely as a stage for each of those bravura set-pieces.
English-born actress Catriona MacCall plays Liza Merril, the inheritor of a rundown hotel in Louisiana which happens to be built upon one of seven gateways to hell (clearly the building planners didn’t do their research…). Fifty years before, a bunch of locals brutally murdered an artist residing there who was actually protecting them from the demons behind the gateway, and Liza’s arrival triggers a series of supernatural events which ultimately result in the resurrection of the dead.
The fact that zombies were included in the movie at the behest of German distributors who were riding the crest of a boom in the popularity of the zombie sub-genre perhaps confirms the suspicion that creating a coherent storyline wasn’t necessary one of Fulci’s primary concerns. The writing is typically one-dimensional, with most characters introduced merely to provide victims for the series of spooky incidents. To be fair, some of these incidents are genuinely effective, although its when Fulci settles for more conventional methods (such as a mummified hand shooting through a hole in the wall to grab a hapless plumber’s face) that they work best. The gore is there for no other reason than to cater for the significant audience of gore-hounds that form the core of Fulci’s (and Italian 1980s horror) fanbase while making no attempt to add anything new to the genre.
As with most Italian horror films, The Beyond contains an overbearing score that intrudes on virtually every scene, sometimes running counterpoint to the action taking place onscreen. The dubbing is poor, the editing barely adequate, but as with many of these kind of movies, a certain degree of enthusiasm on the part of the makers for their subject does shine through, and the special effects are impressive considering the movie was made more than thirty years ago.
(Reviewed 4th May 2012)