Deadly falls, crucifixions, acid melted faces, flesh eating spiders, a killer seeing-eye dog, zombies, a gateway to hell… what did I just watch. Those are just a few of my thoughts after watching Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond (1981), and I’m not sure how that makes me feel. I went in to The Beyond having seen several Fulci horror films but even that couldn’t have prepared me for what I was about to endure. The story is surprisingly simple, Liza, played by Catriona MacColl, has inherited a hotel in Louisiana that just so happens to be built on one of the seven gates to hell, this is of course bad for real estate values but good for horror.
While the premise seems straightforward the film itself seems to have no linear structure. Characters are introduced in a fashion to make you think they will be important to the story, and then killed off in increasingly ridiculous ways. For example the character of Emily, played by Cinzia Monreale, a blind girl who seems to be a harbinger of doom sent to warn Liza, but maybe she doesn’t really exist, after all she does live in a home that upon later investigation has been abandoned for years. But wait, maybe she is real and is actually working with the demonic forces in the hotel, or maybe not since they seem to also be out to get her, good thing she has her trusty seeing-eye dog. The ridiculousness of these plot points make it seem like rather than write a horror film with any degree of continuity Fulci just took multiple ideas he didn’t have a film for and threw them together to see what sticks.
While the inconsistency of the plot was irritating I would be remiss in ignoring the fact that the deaths were a lot of fun, pointless, but fun. I know this review seems short and somewhat indecisive but that’s exactly how the film made me feel. Should I praise it for it’s desire to be different? Should I hate it for it’s failure to tell a logical story? For all it’s shortcomings I was definitely entertained and invested through out the films run time. And where do I get a gun that runs out of bullets and reloads with a random amount of ammunition seemingly at will?
I recommend The Beyond despite it’s flaws… I think. If nothing else, I’ve spent the last few days thinking about it and trying to decide what exactly I watched, and isn’t that what film should do, stick with you long after the lights go up.