Presently I can’t figure out why, but I had loathed Zombi 2 for quite some time, so when a local theater that specialized in cult and independent cinema advertised a screening of an old Zombie film, Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond, I immediately recognized the director and thought, “oh no, not that guy” (I was severely of the uninitiated at the time). But, since I regularly attended the weekly midnight screenings at this theater, I thought it’d be fun to go and watch this movie in a dark room full of strangers and observe the general response. Despite numerous riffing and laughter from the audience, there was something about the film that entertained and terrified me. Those moments with the grieving widow in the morgue and every time someone went into room 36 were real intense for me, and the scene with the blind ghost girl, Emily, surrounded by the zombies from Hell gave me a nightmare that night. The characteristics of The Beyond reminded me of Zombi 2, in a good way, and the gore, as indicated by the screams and waves of laughter in the audience, was a real crowd pleaser.
The next week, the same cinema was screening Zombi 2, and I was more than excited to watch it, and when I did, I couldn’t believe that I used to hate it. Those amazing set pieces, those wonderfully disgusting gore FX, that awesome classical/synth score from Fabio Frizzi, those dirty, grotesque looking zombies, they were all things I loved about The Beyond. With Zombi 2, it was just the zombies that were a threat, but with The Beyond, it’s this threat of Hell itself passing through one of the supposed seven gates. And Hell, as portrayed in The Beyond, creeped me out, but it was also like this adventure, an idea of going beyond, that is so awesomely portrayed in the film’s ending.
I guess The Beyond turned something on inside of me. Maybe it was the haunted hotel setting that clicked with me more, or maybe I needed something more Hellish to turn on the love. It might also be that I matured, or became less mature, since watching Zombi 2 several years before, but either way, I sure was happy to have acquired a new found gift, or curse, to appreciate the Fulci. The next Fulci film I watched was The Gates of Hell, and following that I endured a long wait for a copy of House by the Cemetery to come in the mail, and, as many of you already know, Italian horror became a huge obsession that ultimately segued into other facets of Eurohorror as well as the giallo, all of which I probably haven’t even begun to crack the surface of (I'm expecting it to be a lifelong exploration).
I never thought such visceral depictions of bodily harm in detail would work so well as being the mode of harm from ghosts, but Fulci makes it work. The ghosts from Hell are zombies in their own way, yet they lack hunger for flesh, as indicated by the absence of gory flesh chomping (not counting the part with the seeing eye dog, Dicky, or the tarantulas) that so characterized most of the zombie attacks in Zombi 2. The film’s claustrophobic nightmare ambiance generates an inescapably hopeless feel. It’s a supremely hellish ride through a nightmare where the beyond becomes ever more and more present and threatening and ultimately engulfs all, by the film’s end.
It would be remiss not to give additional due credit to scriptwriter Dardano Sacchetti, cinematographer Sergio Salvati, FX man Germano Natali and makeup artist Giannetto De Rossi, the artistic hands behind the gore, and composer Fabio Frizzi, whose score in this is unforgettable and very enjoyable (I could listen to it over and over again over the DVD menu and never tire of it). I love this movie and feel it mandatory to re-watch The Beyond at least once a year to never fall out of touch with my Eurohorror roots.
We've reached the final day of the Ultimate Gore-a-thon: A Splatterific Extravaganza. It was a blast, and I thank Jonny Dead of Blood Sucking Geek for having me as a part of this ode to blood and guts and its theatrical value in film and music, and I want to send a huge thanks to the other participants for their support. Take care to not miss what these other sites have cooked up, and enjoy the rest of the Gore-a-thon.
Blood Sucking Geek
Deep Red Rum
Movies At Dog Farm
The Info Zombie
Candy-Coated Razor Blades