Reviewed by Ross Hughes
Now we come to this, Lucio Fulci’s ultimate masterpiece, his Suspria, a film that will live beyond his legacy, and a horror that should be cherished with anyone who claims to love the horror genre.
The Beyond enters me review section with sadness on my part. Its a film that deserves more praise and acclaim it actually gets, and sadly its often overlooked by the above mentioned Suspria even though its safe to say that its on equal level terms of Argento’s ultimate horror classic, and the both films should be labelled as the pinnacle of when Italian horror was cool and must see cinema.
To even get to the storyline seems to of no point. This is a film that demands the viewer to lose itself with what is on offer. The dreamscape surroundings and surreal plot will have you shaking your head but Fulci shows no care in respecting the audience intelligence, he is to busy planning his next big set piece, if its not tongues and limbs being hacked off, baths full of acid, or even would you believe bonkers spider attacks, The Beyond has everything you need horror to be. Its a case of why have plot when there is so much fun to be had in washing the screen with blood and gore that even the most diehard of Gore hounds will find perhaps a bit overwhelming.
The weird and quite wonderful thing about this film is that while there were numerous films of this nature before and after, like Suspria, it seems to have an edge, a unique balance that strikes a chord with the viewer. As soon as the credits roll, the film is awash with colours, it seduces you, makes you fall in love, you never scared at what’s on show, but being in complete awe with the violence on screen is a notion that scares me, its like “we should be scared, but how can we” and its quite easy to be swept away by everything going on.
But what is going on? There must be a plot? Or this is just me rambling on! Ok. Its all about the gateways to Hell and the events that take place in a hotel called Seven Doors. Starting off in the 1920’s where an artist is brutally murdered by a gang who believe he is a Warlock, and its his death that opens a portal which allows the dead to cross into the living. The action then switches to 1980 where Fulci regular Katherine McColl (Lisa) inherits the hotel and decides to open the place for business but her decision to make the property more attractive reactivates the portal and soon the hotel is overrun with the undead and only her and Dr McCabe (David Warbeck) can save the day….along with a mysterious blind girl who may know the secret behind room 36!
Its amazing how fate plays such a part in creating a movie masterpiece. Its hard to believe that this was not the film that was originally intended. Fulci set out to do a haunted hotel theme but such back then was the clamour for Zombies, that the great man was forced by his German distributors to make such a film, a haunted theme did not appeal to their tastes, and so Fulci added the undead and also rewrote the final act, and thanks to that, created his ultimate movie.
The Beyond is a pinnacle of Italian Horror. There is not just one great artist at work here. Yes its Fulci’s film, but all credit must go also to the wonderful effects by Giannetto de Rossi and what can only be described as a lesson of how to do breathtaking cinematography by Sergio Salvati who creates such a vision of delight that as I have said earlier, will leave you simply breathless.
Its also hard to distinguish the difference between Fulci and Argento for this particular piece. Its a work that matches everything that Dario himself achieved, even though not once does it seem to copy the blueprint. Its a movie that boasts of originality, a horror that fully achieves everything that was great about Fulci. There are critics of his work, there are those who dismiss his ability, but they fail to let go and join the ride that he dares you to make, a trip into a nightmare world, this is hell but Fulci’s way, and if you have never even attempted to even take a peek into the dream world that he created then shame on you! The biggest crime of all is that when I watch this, I can not help but think of A Nightmare On Elm St. No not the original but the remake. Here we have everything in such a trippy dream that it fascinates and it reaches out to your horror tingles and makes your juices flow. In Freddy they had a man who could invade the dreams of his victims, a plot vice with endless ideas and worlds to explore, somehow they created a film so lacking in imagination and cheap scares that you can not help but weep. Can you imagine what would have been achieved in the hands of great masters like Fulci and Argento. In an age where horror is made for an audience who clearly want teen scares, senseless gore, we are entering a stage where new blood is needed. Some director to take a bold stance and offer something new. The upcoming Suspria remake may open the doors for such a thing. If though, they manage to get it right……..