I first heard of this movie when I heard about the list of Video Nasties, a list from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of England, which is a list of movies that were banned from playing in England that started in 1983. The act that made this possible was the Obscene Publications Act, which defined obscenity as that which may "tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it". This definition is of course open to wide interpretation. Due to this 72 films in all appeared on the list. Since then I've been trying to watch all the movies on the list and I'm slowly making headway with it. The Beyond also has the added bonus of being watched due to it's considered a Mythos movies so it was an easy choice to watch and review.
Let me start out by saying that the acting in this will not win anyone any awards (nor did it when it came out). Some of the acting is so flat it seems as if the actors are reading cue cards half the time. The rest of the time the actors are are either overacting so badly, or actually doing a decent job. While most of the time this would make me completely despise a movie but in The Beyond it just helps the movie. David Warbeck as Dr. John McCabe is the best actor in the film as he seems the most comfortable in delivering his lines as well as acting so damn calm considering what all is happening to him. Katherine MacColl as Liza Merril isn't quite as good as Warbeck but they both stand out from the rest of the cast. The rest of the cast is actually fun to watch as they stare death in the face with a blank face and say nothing. The others in this so overact at the smallest scare that it to is fun to watch at the unbelievable emotions showing, or lack there of.
Part of the fun with this film is the story but it is also the films weakest point. Some are going to disagree with me on this but there are questions raised during the movie that had no answers. One of them being is why was the Schweick murdered at the beginning of the film? What did he do that caused over fifteen people to come after him with so much hatred? Another problem is when did Emily die at the start of the film because they showed her at the hotel when the towns people went to get Schweick yet that was it. While still on the subject of Emily, how was she able to come back since she mentioned she escaped from her fate. The biggest flaw with the film is Dr McCabe's inability to understand that after shooting multiple zombies in random body parts and them not falling over but head shots puts them down just to go back to body shots is just dumb. I know that these are nit picky things but these are the things that always got me with this film. That's not to say the entire story is bad though. I loved that the background of the hotel is not told except for it was built on one of the seven door ways to Hell. The supernatural happenings are never fully explained which leaves it up to the viewer to decide for themselves how these are occurring or what set the events in the film off.
Director Lucio Fulci, even with all the major flaws in the film, still has created something that sticks with you, which is why the film has a cult following. Some of the stand out scenes include the slow death of the hotel caretaker from a nail in the back of the head due to the expectation of the death we the viewer know is coming, just not when. One of my favorites is the spider attack even though you can tell most of them are fake, it is just the freak out factor of it and the slow march of them toward their victim, who sees them coming but can't move or even scream. The shot composition of some scenes are just beautiful in places as some of them are just striking in the visual element and colors used. With all the flaws present, The Beyond is still fun to watch and even listen to with the terrible overdubs. The reason why this film has survived to be a cult classic isn't because of the flaws but because of the mood that is created throughout the film thanks in part to the direction and timing of scenes by Fulci. This is a must watch if you haven't been able to see yet.
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Catriona MacColl (as Katherine MacColl) - Liza Merril
David Warbeck - Dr. John McCabe
Cinzia Monreale (as Sarah Keller) - Emily
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 handgun that becomes a hand-cannon to one poor girls head.
And you will face the sea of darkness, and all therein that may be explored.
The Book Of Eibon', featured prominently throughout the film, is the creation of American pulp fiction author, poet and fine artist Clark Ashton Smith and is a recurring text associated with the so-called "Cthulhu Mythos" cycle of literature. The book, which deals with various arcane subjects including the resurrection of the dead, demonic magic, parallel dimensions and other black magic subjects is alleged to have been imparted to the infamous necromancer Eibon by the ancient devil-god Tsathoggua in a remote prehistoric epoch.
During the final scene in the Beyond's abyss, the sand-covered bodies lying on the ground were actually stark naked street derelicts, who were "paid" in alcohol.
The zombie rampage was done at the insistence of the film's German distributors whose movie market was going through a zombie craze. Fulci agreed to rewrite his film, adding zombies and completely rewriting the film's final act to include a shoot-out between the main characters and a zombie horde at a local hospital. Despite these revisions, the final product is considered by many fans to be one of Fulci's best films and has even been praised for its oneiric incoherence.
Fulci's original outline for The Beyond was of a non-linear haunted house story with the only solid plot element being that of a woman moving into a hotel built on one of the seven gates of hell (another such gate is depicted in City of the Living Dead). This original story focused on the dead leaving hell and entering the hotel with little outside of the ensuing carnage to link the scenes together.
The Beyond is the second film in Fulci's unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy along with City Of The Living Dead and The House By The Cemetery.