THE BEYOND (1981)
posted 00/00/2008

Directed by:
Lucio Fulci

Starring:
Catriona MacColl ... Liza Merril
David Warbeck ... Dr. John McCabe
Cinzia Monreale ... Emily
Antoine Saint-John ... Schweick

Country: Italy
Runtime: 87 min
Original title: E tu vivrai nel terrore - L'aldilà
AKA: And You Will Live in Terror: The Beyond,
Seven Doors of Death
     

The word masterpiece gets bandied about a lot and most films are not deserving of such a lofty title. However, there is one horror film that deserves it. The Beyond is a true masterpiece of the gore genre, and I will fight anyone to the death that disagrees with that statement. There are some movies that have one or two moments that stick in your brain for years and years. But this one has hundreds of wonderfully graphic moments that will live forever in the dark, candle-lit corners of my brain reserved for such knowledge. I will call upon that knowledge and my recent umpteenth viewing of this masterful film for this review.

The film begins with the brutal crucifixion of a painter who lives in a dilapidated old house deep in the New Orleans swamps. Years later, the house is inherited by a young woman, Liza Merril, played with sass by Catriona MacColl, who also appeared in the excellent Fulci films The Gates of Hell and one of my favorites The House by the Cemetery. She is planning to restore the old place, but along the way she finds out that it sits over one of the seven doors to hell. Oops! Everything would have been fine if it wasn't for a dumbass plumber inadvertently bumbling into the cellar like a doof and opening the gates to hell. A zombie bursts through the walls and shoves his eyes into his brain for his trouble. Next time, they should call the roto rooter guys from TAPS.

Anyway, our heroine now has a very messed up house and she meets up with Dr. John McCabe, played with 80's aplomb by David 'Warmachine' Warbeck from Fulci's crazy The Black Cat adaptation and the ridiculous Trog, and he is hard pressed to believe her crazy stories. Even the appearance of a freaky, psychic blind girl and her creepy German Shepherd can't comfort the worried Liza, who is now regretting having moved onto a hellmouth. Who wouldn't, really? But then crazy shit starts to happen, and the blind chick is eaten by her dog while zombies watch. Kinky! Then spiders attack people, a head is burned away by acid, a little girl's face is blown away in one of the best head-shot scenes ever filmed, and tons of crazy, muddy zombies walk the earth.

Without spoiling too much of the film's meat (pun intended) I will close in saying that this is a taut, suspenseful, and gore-ific film. The killer third act is breathlessly exciting and scary, and the last two minutes are as chilling as zombie films can get. But is this really just a zombie film? Primarily, zombies are the main enemies. But as I mentioned before there are killer German Shepherds and tarantula attacks, so I think we should call it more a film about the forces of evil than just a simple zombie movie because there is nothing simple about this movie. This is the real deal, my friends. If you haven't seen this film, then you should stand up, turn your computer off, and go buy The Beyond right now. This gory, intense, masterpiece deserves to be seen over and over again, so go and do that. I can barely stand to look at you as it is!

- Jose Prendes

 

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