Thursday, October 5, 2006

The Beyond (1981)

The Beyond is a movie by Lucio Fulci, the man behind Zombi and other gory Italian flicks.

It begins in the 1920's, with many men surrounding a house in the Louisiana bayou. Inside, a man is painting and a woman is reading a very old book about the Seven Gateways of Hell. The men outside burst in with torches and seize the painter, saying he has brought evil to the area. The painter in turn says that he is the only one that can protect them, for the house was built on one of the Seven Gateways to Hell. The other men ignore him, dragging him to the basement where they crucify him to a wall and throw acid on him.

The movie then jumps to present day, where Liza has inherited the same house from a relative. She is turning it into a bed and breakfast, but lots of work needs to be done. She hires painters, handymen, plumbers and so on to spruce up the decrepit old house. While the painters are painting the outside of the house, one of them sees a woman with milky white cataract eyes through a window. He is so frightened that he falls several stories to his death.

Liza is befriended by the local doctor, John McCabe, who tries to help the painter after his nasty fall. Meanwhile, the plumber arrives to take a look at the flooded basement. When left to his own devices he opens up a wall to get to the reason for the flooding and finds the gateway to hell!

Liza meets blind woman Emily and her faithful German Shepard on her way into New Orleans. Emily has the same milky white eyes that the painter saw through the window! After Emily has Liza over to her house, Emily warns her to leave the house, leave and never return!

Soon, more people in the house, including the servants, go missing in the house. There are many strange supernatural occurrences and Liza begins seeing things. The doctor is there for her as he tries to help her (while he probably thinks she is just crazy or under too much stress). Things escalate when John and Liza escape the house only to find the streets of New Orleans empty. They go to John's hospital and find that the dead walk!

When this movie came out, it was lambasted by critics (and still is) but soon garnered a cult following. I am used to how these Italian films are presented (usually with a lack of cohesive plot), but those that have never seen an Argento, Fulci, etc. may be a little thrown for a loop. These films focus more on the mood they want to invoke rather than the plot. If one can realize and accept this (and are fans of gore!) I believe more people would enjoy these movies.

The gore in this film is truly nasty (which is a compliment!) and Fulci definitely delivers. Fulci does not shy from showing anything, including a couple of scenes involving acid and someone's face! I was delighted (and grossed out at the same time) that this film featured Fulci's signature eyeball gouging. We also get to see a dog rip someone throat out, among many other gory scenes.

The acting is pretty decent, but the plot does have some pretty big holes in it. Still it is an enjoyable film if you love gore a la Italian masters.

Order it on Amazon!

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