Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale.
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Finally Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond is in high-def for the very first time. That right there should be all you need to know to go and get this right now. But just in case you’re new to the splattery surreal cinema of this Italian horror maestro, I guess I’ll give you a little bit more to go on.
Down New Orleans way there is a quaint, secluded hotel that just so happens to have been built over one of the seven doors to hell. As if that wasn’t bad news enough, some years past an artist accused of black magic was chain-whipped, nailed to a wall, had some sort of acidic plaster poured over his head, and then was walled up alive. I guess a simple witch burning wasn’t fun enough for these virtuous vigilantes.
There is one odd bit about this Blu-ray release that I feel I should mention here, although I honestly don’t think it’s that big of a deal. The last time I watched The Beyond was on the DVD from Grindhouse Release and in that version this beginning prologue was shot, or at least shown, in sepia tones. On this Blu-ray from Arrow Video it is shown in black and white. Now that slight change didn’t do anything for me one way or the other, but I’ve heard of some “controversy” (yes those are ironic quotation marks) about some people getting all in a huff over which way is better. Me, I can’t understand such silliness as the prologue only lasts seven minutes. The artistic merits or flaws between sepia and black and white don’t mean a whole hell of a lot to me I guess. But I thought I’d mention it.
Oh well, flash forward to the modern day of 1981 and a young woman inherits the hotel and hires some handymen to start renovating it. It is during some basement repair that the corpse of the walled-up warlock is discovered, but naturally the rotting body isn’t totally dead, and soon people are being torn apart in the amazingly stylish and gruesome fashion that made Fulci a legend in the horror world. There’s a face clawing that rips a guy’s eye out, a woman that gets her head dissolved by acid while her daughter watches (who then goes instantly blind afterward), a horde of flesh-eating tarantulas, and a host of other disgusting delights. As the bodies begin to pile up and more corpses begin to saunter and slay, it is up to the hotel’s new owner and her sort of love interest, the town’s local pathologist, to uncover the deadly mystery that links the hotel, a tome of black magic called the Book of Eibon, and all the horrible murders together. Can the young couple, with some help from a blind prophetess and her doggie, save the day before the door to hell is thrown wide open and the whole world is lost? Well if you know Fulci films then you probably already know the answer to that.
The Beyond is Italian splatter cinema at its finest. It’s got great gallons of gore galore, an amazingly eerie soundtrack, and so much style that it should be walking down a runway in Paris. Yes at times the story doesn’t quite make sense, and that goes for the film’s final scene as well, but that just adds to the movie’s overall surreal and nightmarish feel. If you want to watch a true horror movie that’s creepy and icky as all hell then The Beyond is the flick for you. There is a reason this movie is considered by most learned horrorheads to be modern classic.
Ok, so the movie is undeniable awesome, but how are the extras on this maiden voyage of The Beyond on Blu? Well don’t worry, this is UK’s Arrow Video, have they ever disappointed you?
Arrow has pretty much outdone themselves with all the bonus content to be had here. There’s an intro to the movie and a featurette with actress Cinzia Monreale, not to mention a Q&A session with the other female lead in this film, Catriona MacColl. The lovely MacColl also pulls double duty and returns for an audio commentary with costar David Warbeck and there’s a second commentary tack with Antonella Fulci, daughter of director, Lucio.
On the second disc, a DVD so the quality isn’t as high but who cares, there’s another featurette on the movie as it was known and shown outside of Italy under the title of Seven Doors Of Death. Catriona MacColl returns for more for a lengthy interview about not only The Beyond but all the horror movies she did for Lucio Fulci. The man who did the splatter special makeup effects for Fulci’s The Beyond and Zombie 2, Giannetto De Rossi, also gets his own thirty minute interview. The last meaty mini movie in this package is an overview of many of Fulci’s fright flicks. An alternate pre-credit sequence and an International trailer bring this convoy of awesome extras to a close.
In addition to all this, Arrow Video does its usual bang up job with non-disc goodies such as their famous double-sided box art, which gives you four choices on how you want to display your Blu-ray. A double-sided wall poster and a more than hefty 31 page collector’s booklet round out the extras. Honestly, all Blu-ray and DVD companies would do well to emulate Arrow when it comes to packaging extra swag with their releases.
As I alluded to at the start, getting this Blu-ray is a no brainer if you have a BD player and consider yourself a horror fan in any sense of the term. It looks amazing, it sounds amazing, it has an amazing amount of bonus features, and the movie, well that’s pretty darn amazing too.