Friday, October 12, 2012

The Beyond

Next up on the Lucio Fulci zombie movie list is this flick, The Beyond, While it's not completely about zombies, it features enough of them to warrant a review here.

So, there are seven doors on Earth that lead into hell. One of them is in the basement of a Louisiana hotel which has just been handed down to a city girl when her grandmother passes away. Once she arrives strange things begin happening, like a maintenance man disappears while fixing a water main in the basement, a blind woman gives her cryptic warnings about the hotel, spiders attack people and eat their faces, the dead start to rise from their graves and all kinds of nastiness ensues.
This is the other film in Lucio Fulci's resume that is considered to be his masterpiece (the other is Zombi 2), and I have to agree with it this time. It's paced extremely well, the gore/attack scenes are spaced out enough to allow the proper development of the major characters. The dialogue is much improved (but still leaves a lot to be desired), the gore FX are very nasty and it features a great apocalyptic ending that I really enjoyed.

But is it a good movie? Well, for its kind I have to say that it's fucking awesome! But if you want to compare it to American horror movies of the time it's sorely lacking. For an Italian gorefest it's the bomb! The acting isn't half bad and the story is pretty well written, so I can't complain.
Zombi 2 is known for two major scenes, a zombie/shark fight and a scene involving an eyeball and a sharp piece of wood. This film is known for two scenes as well, a scene where a librarian is attacked by tarantulas who eat his tongue and eyes, and a scene where the top of a teenage girl's head gets blown off by a shotgun blast (it's considered to be the most realistic looking shotgun wound in film history). While these two scenes are pretty nasty (the tarantula scene is played out in the same manner as the splinter/eyeball scene from Zombi 2-- very S-L-O-W-L-Y) there are two other scenes that really gross me out when I see them. One involves the dissolving of a woman's head by hydrochloric acid IN SLOW MOTION and another where the back of a person's head is impaled on a large metal spike and the tip comes out through the person's eyeball. I just shudder thinking about them since they're so in-your-face. There are plenty more gory bits, like a dude's eyeball getting plucked out by a demon's hand, plenty of gun on zombie nastiness, a dog goes crazy on a chick's throat and more.
While you might be saying that there's no way that this flick could possibly be entertaining, I have to disagree. Sure it's ultra violent (but nothing when compared to what was in Saw III or Hostel), but it's worked into the story so well that it comes off as being necessary to the plot in most instances (the spider bit comes out of left field however) and the obviously fake look to the violence makes you laugh as you're disgusted. This is a pretty well respected horror flick too, as Quentin Tarantino paid to have an original uncut print re-mastered and re-released in a limited number of theaters back in ‘99 (I clearly remember it playing at a couple art house places in Chicago).

So if you want to watch what I'd consider the definitive Italian splatter film, The Beyond is it. It's never boring, filled with over-the-top gore, a kick ass finale and plenty of sadistic fun. A classic.

4 out of 5

Next up on the Fulci horizon, City of the Living Dead, which is known for a scene where a chick barfs up her own intestines. Lovely.

*written 10/31/05

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