The Beyond (1981)

The Beyond (1981)

We’re in a hotel room in Louisiana, and the year is 1927. A thunderous evening is setting in as the artist Schweick (Antoine Saint-John) is brushing his last strokes on his latest grotesque painting, which is also to be his final. The painting is apparently representing Hell, and the locals believe that Schweick is an evil, ungodly warlock that uses the painting to open one of the Seven Gates of Hell. The hotel is said to be built upon one of the gates, and a group of men in full mob-mode storms the hotel and into Schweick’s room to stop him. They drag him down to the basement to cut him up with a chain before bolting him to the wall and torturing him to death. But what they didn’t know is that the sacrifice of the artist just opened the gate, and the dead from beyond are now free to enter the world of the living.

 

Then we jump forward to the year 1981, where Liza Merill (Catriona MacColl) has inherited the hotel and is in the process of a renovation, after the building has been empty and collecting dust and cobwebs for the last six decades . Shit already starts to happen when one of the workers see a female figure with big, scary, glossy eyes through one of the windows. In shock, he stumbles off the scaffold and almost crushes his skull. The alarm from room 36 suddenly starts to ring, even though the hotel has no costumers. This happens to be the same room where the artist we saw in the beginning was working on his painting. It goes from bad to worse when plumber Joe is brutally killed by demonic forces in the water damaged basement as he finds a secret room behind some worn stone walls. Liza bumps into a mysterious blind lady, Emily (Cinzia Monreale), who advises her to give up the hotel and go back where she came from, without being able to explain exactly why. And more questions than answers arise when Liza learns from Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck) that he has never heard of this blind woman Emily, and that her house has been empty for decades.

 

The Beyond is the second film in Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy. And although the plot may be somewhat diffuse, The Beyond works on more levels than the previous and rather clunky City of the Living Dead. More steadier and focused direction and not least, the acting is significantly better. And The Beyond works perfectly for what it is: an atmospheric, nightmarish fever dream with some really intense and morbidly gory moments. Faces are being melted with acid and eaten by spiders. A girl with pigtails gets her head blown away, eyes being plucked out and so on. Juicy stuff by the great makeup artist Giannetto De Rossi, who’s also worked on Zombie Flesh-Eaters, and a mountain of other films. Also, great and fitting soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi, I must add.

 

The Beyond is also known for its highly visual ending sequence, which was actually planned to be filmed somewhere in an amusement park. But due to logistical restrictions, Fulci had to find an other way to end it and had to quickly improvise. And with reduced budget and resources comes more creative thinking. And I must say that the plan B-ending was a pretty simple, but genius move that sets a unique and satisfying climax.

 

For a completely uncut version, look for a DVD/Blu-ray from Grindhouse Releasing.

 

The Beyond

 

Director: Lucio Fulci
Original title: …E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà
Country & year: Italy, 1981
Actors: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar, Larry Ray, Giovanni De Nava, Al Cliver, Michele Mirabella, Giampaolo Saccarola, Maria Pia Marsala, Laura De Marchi
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082307/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City of the Living Dead (1980)

City of the Living Dead (1980)“City of the Living Dead” is the first part of the Lucio Fulci “Gates of Hell” trilogy, which followed up with “The Beyond” and “House By the Cemetery”. But apart from sharing the theme of the dead being brought to life, with some small doses of inspiration from H.P Lovecraft and with actress Catriona MacColl starring in all three, they work well as separate films.

 

The film starts at a cemetery in the small town of Dunwich where a priest hangs himself, and reappears as an evil deathstaring zombie. At the same time, Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl) witnesses a New York apartment suicide during a vision under a seance, which scares her to death. Yes, literally to death. And why, you might ask? Well, because his act of sin causes all the dead in the cemetery of Dunwich to rise from the dead as zombies. And these are not the traditional carnivorous zombies…here, they have the ability to teleport themselves and use telekinesis to make people bleed tears and spew up their own inner organs. Miss Woodhouse’s death is seen as a mysterious case, which captures the curiosity of newspaper journalist Peter Bell (Christopher George). The day she is to be buried, he sneaks around the cemetery when she suddenly comes alive in the coffin and screams. Peter hacks up the coffin to save her, but unlike the ordinary dead who resurrects as zombies, Mary wakes up like from a normal night’s sleep and is straight back into her old self again. Well, good for her. After they learn that the gates of hell must be closed and this evil priest must be stopped, they take a roadtrip to Dunwich. And this must happen before All Saint’s Day. If not, the dead will take over the world.

 

Meanwhile, the evil priest has already started terrorizing Dunwich, while rubbing mud filled with worms in peoples faces as he teleports around the city. While strange and macabre things continue to happen in the city, a group of men sit in the local pub, suspecting Bob, the city’s outcast who has a taste for inflatable sex dolls, to be behind all of this. And this side plot with Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) is completely useless which is nothing but filler scenes that could easily have been cut out. Even though “City of the Living Dead” doesn’t work all that well with its serious pacing issues, the film has some great ghoulish atmosphere with a fitting soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi, who’s scored several of Fulci’s films. There’s also several memorable gory scenes to enjoy, and some of the actors were dedicated enough to get isolated in a room to be attacked by ten kilos of maggots via two wind machines. Trivia: one of the crew members decided to pull a prank on Mr. Fulci by stuffing some of the maggots in his pipe tobacco. Everyone but Fulci found it funny and he blamed the incident on the heart surgery he had years later with health problems that escalated to ventricular aneurysm, contracted viral hepatitis and liver cirrhosis. No more maggots on set, I guess. And of course don’t forget the drinking game: take a shot every time there’s a close-up of the actors eyes, and you’ll surely die of alcohol poisoning before the first twenty minutes. In advance, rest in peace.

 

City of the Living Dead

 

Director: Lucio Fulci
Original title: Paura nella città dei morti viventi
Country & year: Italy, 1980
Actors: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Daniela Doria, Fabrizio Jovine, Luca Venantini, Michele Soavi, Venantino Venantini, Enzo D’Ausilio, Adelaide Aste, Luciano Rossi, Robert Sampson, Janet Agren
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081318/

 

 

Tom Ghoul