Month of Horror Prevues: THE BEYOND
“Woe be unto him who opens one of the seven gateways to Hell, because through that gateway, evil will invade the world.”
THE BEYOND was my introduction to Director Lucio Fulci’s ouvre. Right away I was pulled into the mad, macabre sepia colored imagery of a lynch mob visiting a hotel and attacking a painter by striking him with chains and then tossing quicklime on him. This was quite a shocking opening and I really hadn’t seen anything like it before.
THE BEYOND followed ZOMBI 2, Fulci’s first zombie movie in 1979, its title a way to capitialize on George A. Romero’s hit Dawn of The Dead (known as ZOMBI in Italy) and CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980). THE BEYOND would pick up where ‘City’ left off and take things even further out exploring the metaphysical realms of the living and undead merging together. Fulci had stated he wanted this movie to be “Pure Cinema”, basically a sequence of scenes with no discernible plotline. He was deeply influenced by French playwright Antonin Artaud whose own work in the theater was based around similar ideas of violence which would shock the audience. While this concept may not have worked for other directors, Fulci was able to make a true masterpiece of horror cinema through his brilliance behind the camera. THE BEYOND is a highly atmospheric, gothic, ultra gory look at the undead as they are released into the world from a portal in the basement of a small Louisiana bayou hotel (set on one of the Seven Gateways To Hell). There’s lots of very nasty FX sequences such as people being melted by acid and a young girl’s head being blasted apart by a gunshot. It’s very sick stuff but also highly thrilling and the images Fulci depicts stay with you long after you’re done watching. He definitely went above and BEYOND what Romero was doing in his more traditional zombie movies. As overtly gross as this movie gets, there are some things that are rather comical as well, such as a tarantula attack, which clearly had several fake spiders tearing into the face of their fake victim’s face.
I think what made Fulci so loved by genre film fans was his stylized visuals and fearless attitude when it came to doing cinema. He really cranked his films up with a visceral energy that still holds up today. It should be obvious by now that THE BEYOND is not for the squeamish but for those film fans that love genre cinema with furious energy and style, it’s one we highly recommend if you haven’t already experienced it!