The Beyond (...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà)
the beyond | lucio fulci | dardano sacchetti | giorgio mariuzzo | catriona maccoll | david warbeck | cinzia monreale | italy | gates of hell | zombie | zombies | lovecraftian | sequel | ritual | possession | possessed | antoine saint-john | veronica lazar | larry ray | al cliver
Film: The Beyond (...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writer: Dardano Sacchetti, Giorgio Mariuzzo and Lucio Fulci
Starring: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck and Cinzia Monreale
This film is my first foray into the filmography of co-writer/director Lucio Fulci. I grew up on Zombie but hadn’t seen anything else from him. I learned about more about him after checking out Fangoria’s Top 300 movies issue as well as getting into horror movie podcasts. I didn’t fully understand this movie, but having now seen it a handful of times, I’ve come to appreciate it more. This last viewing was at the Gateway Film Center, on the big screen, with a new score by Fabio Frizzi.
Synopsis: a young woman inherits an old hotel in Louisiana where, following a series of supernatural ‘accidents’, she learns that the building was built over one of the entrances to Hell.
We begin in the 1920s outside of the city of New Orleans. We see a group of men in a boat. They are approaching a hotel. Staying here is a painter, Schweick (Antoine Saint-John). He is staying in room 36 and he is painting an odd picture. In a different place, reading from a forbidden book called Eibon is Emily (Cinzia Monreale). The book states that there are seven portals to Hell. If you encounter them, you will be damned. Schweick is staying above one. He is murdered by the men, being whipped with a chain and then killed with an acid like substance. He is then buried behind a wall. They do this as they call him a warlock and blame him for the bad luck in town.
We then shift to 1981. Liza Merril (Catriona MacColl) has inherited the hotel from the beginning sequence from her uncle. She is fixing up the place and trying to make it her income. Martin Avery (Michele Mirabella) is trying to help her with ways to improve the place, but she doesn’t have the funds. She greets the painter as they’re passing. When he turns back to work, he sees a woman with blank eyes. He falls and injuries himself.
This worker is helped inside, but he is coughing up blood. Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck) is called in to help. He does what he can but it is limited so he’s taken to the hospital. Also, in the house helping Liza is Martha (Veronica Lazar) and Arthur (Gianpaolo Saccarola). Oddly enough, she did not find either of them but they came with the house.
Next to come to the hotel is the plumber, Joe (Giovanni De Nava). He goes down in the basement where Martha has set up a path for him. The water is not working, but it is flooded down below. Joe goes deeper and breaks through a brick wall. He touches another and it crumbles to find the body of Schweick. He’s attacked by this person who was supposed to be dead.
John examines the body along with a colleague, Dr. Harris (Al Cliver). The corpse of Schweick was also brought in. Dr. Harris does an experiment with a machine to check for brain wave. Dr. Harris must convince John, but he gives in. He doesn’t get anything though, that is until he leaves the room.
From here, more weird things happen. This old box keeps alerting to room 36. Liza also meets Emily who has white eyes. Anyone who comes to the house or looks into it meet a terrible ending. Liza also finds the book of Eibon. John doesn’t believe her when she tells him the things that happen. There are things that happen that even this doctor cannot explain rationally.
That should be enough of a recap and introduction to the characters. I want to lead off saying that I really like the backstory to this film. We have this cursed book that lays out parts of it. This was the first movie from Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy that I saw. It is the only one that I’ve seen multiple times. Even though this is playing my hand a bit, it is also my favorite of the series.
Now that I’ve established that, I wanted to talk about what my initial issue with this movie was. Nightmare logic of Italian cinema was a problem for me. Having dealt a bit more into movies from this country, I appreciate something like this even more. There isn’t a deep story here, but we don’t necessarily need it either. This house was built over top of a gate to hell. Schweick seemed to be dabbling a bit with the supernatural which caused it to open. It also caused bad luck in the nearby town. That is why he was executed.
That’s the backstory. Weird things are happening now that Liza is trying to move in. I get the feeling that The Grudge borrowed ideas from this. The house is cursed. Her family member not being there since it was closed is why it was held at bay. Now that people are back, the evil is trying to free itself. This becomes City of the Living Dead, the first film in this trilogy, where we have zombies. I also wondered why certain people were targeted. It makes sense with more viewings which is big for me. There aren’t many things that I cannot explain still.
What I will say is not everything makes sense. Thankfully it isn’t necessarily story issues, but more with character decisions. It is only with John. In this climax scene, he sees what he is doing isn’t working. He sees what does, but then continues to almost test that hypothesis. This annoys me every time I watch this. Not enough to ruin the movie overall. It is frustrating, nonetheless.
That should be good for the story, so next I’ll go over to the best part of this which is the effects. They are brutal and I love it. I come to expect that from Fulci. Everything we get here is practical. They use dummies for certain things or fake animals for others. I still respect trying and give high marks here. The cinematography also helps. Extreme close ups help to hide things and make it look better. There is also a lot of focusing in on eyes as well as trauma there. It makes me cringe which is good. Since went into so much with the filmmaking, I will say that both soundtracks I’ve heard with this are good. What Frizzi does here is great.
All that is left then would be with the acting. I like MacColl as our lead. She does well in this position. Warbeck is okay as John. I like him in that he’s grounded and no nonsense. My problem is with decision making during the climax. Monreale, Saint-John, Lazar, De Nava, Cliver, Mirabella, Maria Pia Marsala and the rest of the cast are fine. They don’t have to do too much for this to work.
In conclusion, this is right up there as one of my favorite Fulci films. It is my favorite of this trilogy and it is contending with Zombie. I think that there is an interesting enough story to move us through each of the set pieces. The effects there are good. The acting is solid enough for what we need. Other than that, this is just a well-made movie with the cinematography and the soundtrack. Won’t be for everyone. You need to like gore and Italian logic horror films. If you do, then give this a watch.
My Rating: 9 out of 10