If you’re a fan of Italian horror, you pretty much know what to expect when you watch a Lucio Fulci film. Although his movies are nowhere near as good as those of Mario Bava and lack the stylized slickness of Dario Argento, they’re still a treat, albeit a guilty one. The Beyond, though is not only one of my favorite Italian horror films, it’s by far one of the best Fulci has to offer in that it embodies what’s so good (and bad) about the filmmaker in the best possible way.
Believed to be a warlock, an artist is attacked by a lynch mob and holed up in a wall in a building in New Orleans. Years later, a young woman named Liza inherits the old building and decides to turn it into a hotel. It seems like a fresh new start as renovations begin and she encounters a handsome local doctor. But soon strange things start happening in the hotel, and Liza learns that her ‘fresh start’ might actually be a portal to hell.
So I just tried to explain the plot of The Beyond, but truth be told, it really doesn’t have much of one. Each scene simply exists to either horrify you or gross you out, and that’s the sheer fun of the film right there. In this movie, realism is to be avoided at all costs. There are tarantulas that eat eyeballs, an uncovered jar of acid that sits precariously perched on the edge of a shelf waiting to tumble, gunshots that cause heads to totally explode, scores of unexplained zombies and other assorted gory goodies.
While this all may seem like a bit much, it’s supposed to be. This is eighties Italian horror amped up to 11. That also means there’s a ton of (unintentional) silliness as well. A dead body is hooked up to a heart machine just so we can get a jolt when it suddenly beeps. One of the signs in a hospital reads “Do Not Entry”. And at one point a main character loads a gun by putting bullets in the barrel. Also the film borrows (steals) heavily from other influences such as The Shining. But no matter how goofy The Beyond gets, it still remains weird, wonderful, creepy and dark.
The ending is done surprisingly well and offers a nice little final touch of horror. And the entire movie is anchored by Italian composer Fabio Frizzi’s inspired score, which is both haunting, memorable and atmospheric.
Those who can’t tolerate a great deal of blood and gore should beware. But this movie isn’t made for those people. It’s a fun, blood-filled, gruesome, spooky romp and if you can stomach it, you’re in for a treat.
Rating: 8 out of 10