Monday, March 15, 2010

(Fun With ) Fulci Week: The Beyond

I changed the order of these reviews a bit, but I did it for a reason: the start off the week right.  The Beyond, if you don't know, is one of Fulci's most beloved films.  Not like Don't Torture A Duckling or The Psychic, which are acclaimed for their stories or writing quality in general.  No, The Beyond is most beloved for its crazy gore and practically non-existent plot.  While a lot of low-budget films do that these days, none do it quite with the dream-like quality that Fulci pulls off here.  Of course, if I want to be snooty, I could describe it as 'oneiric incoherence' like Wikipedia does.  The film has a storied history and layers of controversy surrounding it.  Fulci originally set-up this film as a haunted house film to begin the 'Doors to Hell' trilogy, but the distributors would not bite.  So, ever the artistic visionary, Fulci rewrote the script to include zombies in the third act.  This is also one of the most famous films to be banned internationally, helping Lucio claim three spots on the infamous Video Nasty List.  So, let's gird our loins for...
           As I said in the preface, the film has almost no plot to speak of.  This is what you get...
A pre-credits scene involves a man being chased by a mob of angry people who think that he is a warlock and killed.  This takes place at the Seven Doors Hotel in Louisiana in 1927.  In the present day...of 1981, a woman inherits the hotel and plans to re-open it.  This helps open one of the Seven Doors to Hell (only three of which are ever found, apparently) and chaos to reign.  The crazy gore scenes are as follows...
* A man tries to find a blueprint of the hotel for our heroine, but is shoved off of a ladder by a spirit and killed by tarantulas.
* A plumber is killed by a spirit for wandering too close to the body buried there.  It's not pretty. 
* The man's wife is killed by a spirit at the funeral home & her daughter comes in to find a jar of acid dripping and melting her face.  Keep a solid lid on those things, guys!
* The girl herself is turned into a zombie and gets a hole put in her head.  I'm not being colorful either- it's really got a hole in it!
* A blind woman lingers around for a few scenes, but gets killed by the zombie of the artist from the beginning.  In a scene right out of Suspiria, her dog takes a chunk out of her.
* A swarm of zombies attack the funeral home (Fulci's appeasement) and a ton of them get blown away or shot full of holes.  Lots of blood and guts here.
Eventually, our two heroes run through a door and end up in the basement of the hotel.  For no clear reason, entering another doorway takes them to a blank void of a world (purgatory, maybe) where they are immediately struck blind and wander into the void.  The End.
Yeah, this movie is really, really weird.  It is almost solely a collection of kill scenes and/or the set-up to them.  The plot is extremely-minimalist and just holds together the events.  The mystery aspect of the film is all a ruse as no big revelation is made and the situation is not resolved.  That said, the gore scenes are very dramatic and everything you would expect from a Fulci film.  They linger on the stuff for a while too, especially in the bit with the dripping acid.  It is gross and sick stuff- so I liked it.  If you go into this movie expecting a real plot, you'll be sorely disappointed.  There is a reason that this film is very popular in terms of YouTube videos showing movie gore- that's all there is.  If that works for you, great.
Up next, Fulci brings another tale of blood, death and zombies.  This time, it involves nuns and human sacrifices. Stay tuned...


  1. The doorway they enter causes Warbeck and MacColl to end up in the painting of Hell the warlock was working on at the beginning of the movie.

  2. weird question- how do you do your screenshots- I tried for ages to get a pic of the girl with half a face missing!

    The breakdown of logic in the film I took to be a consequence of the opening of the door to the beyond - that we are supposed to experience for ourselves. So rather than say that we are watching a film about this the we are made to experience what a character in the film would- so in watching we get confusion, disorientation and dread (just as someone experiencing the opening of a door to hell might?) - so maybe thats the key to it. making us feel the film rather than watch and understand it... on the other hand the logic may have accidentally have ended up on the cutting room floor as there are a few howlers in there that should have been cut- for example warbeck and macoll fooling around when they get into the lift - before the door closes he pretends to load bullets into wrong end of gun and macoll notices what he is doing and reacts- that was just messing around but says in the film so I wouldnt be surprised if commonsense accidentally got cut out :)

  3. Oh, my bad. They walked into a painting. That makes...even less sense. Thanks, Venom.

    As far as the subtext of the film, that could be the intent. I don't attempt to put that much logic on films made by a guy who made a film about horny Nazi ghosts.

    As for my screen captures, I literally just typed in "The Beyond" Lucio Fulci into Google and it popped up. I'm actually going to put up some more pictures as I type, since I got what I could from work.

    Hey, at least someone is paying me to do this. :-)

  4. Hey we use the same screencap software! =D

    I am always stuck between GATES OF HELL and THE BEYOND, but I love the ethereal qualities of THE BEYOND and the endless dream logic. GATES OF HELL does have the far superior gore though.. soo good.. soo gooey.. so many sheep intestines..