The Beyond (film)

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The Beyond
200px
US poster
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Produced by Fabrizio De Angelis
Screenplay by Giorgio Mariuzzo
Lucio Fulci
Dardano Sacchetti
Story by Dardano Sacchetti
Starring Katherine MacColl
David Warbeck
Cinzia Monreale
Antoine Saint-John
Veronica Lazar
Music by Fabio Frizzi
Cinematography Sergio Salvati
Edited by Vincenzo Tomassi
Production
company
Fulvia Film
Distributed by Medusa Distribuzione
(Italy)
Grindhouse Releasing
(North America)
Release dates April 29, 1981
(Italy)
March 1983
(United States)
Running time 89 minutes
Language Italian
English
Budget $400,000 (estimated)

The Beyond (Italian: L'aldilà, also released as Seven Doors of Death) is a 1981 Italian horror film directed by Lucio Fulci. The second film in Fulci's unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy (along with City of the Living Dead and The House by the Cemetery), The Beyond has gained a cult following over the decades,[citation needed] in part because of the film's gore-filled murder sequences,[original research?] which had been heavily censored when the film was originally released in the United States in 1983.

Plot[edit]

In 1927, a lynch mob murders an artist named Schweick, whom they believe to be a warlock, in Louisiana's Seven Doors Hotel. This opens one of the seven doors of death, which allow the dead to cross into the world of the living. Several decades later, Liza, a young woman from New York, inherits the hotel and plans to re-open it. Her renovation work activates the hell portal, and soon she and a local doctor contend with strange incidents: a painter falls off his rig, horribly injuring him, and, as Joe, a plumber, investigates a serious flood from the cellar, a demonic hand gouges out his eye. His body is later discovered by a hotel maid, Martha.

During a drive on the highway, Liza encounters a sinister blind woman named Emily, who warns her that she has made a huge mistake by inheriting the hotel. At the hospital, Joe's wife Mary-Anne and their daughter Jill have come to the morgue to examine his corpse. While Mary-Anne is dressing Joe up for his funeral, Jill hears her scream and investigates, only see Mary-Anne scalded by a leaking bottle of acid. Liza meets with Dr. John McCabe in a nearby bar and receives a phone from their friend Harris, who informs them of Mary-Anne's death. After the funerals, Liza encounters Emily again, who explains the histories of Schweick and the hotel. Emily then leaves in a hurry.

The following day, Liza sneaks into hotel room 36, where she discovers an ancient book with the stitched word Eibon on the cover. Although she discovers Schweick's corpse, it is no longer there when she brings John to the room. Liza discusses her fears, but when she mentions Emily, John says that Emily is not real. On a walk with her friend Martin, Liza encounters a book shop with Eibon in the window. When they go inside, the shop owner denies the book's existence, and it is no longer in the window when they look for it. At the hotel, a worker named Arthur, attempts to repair the same leak as Joe, only to be killed offscreen by ghouls.

Martin visits the public library to find the hotel's blueprints, which he finds when the librarian leaves for lunch. He is struck by lightning and falls from his ladder. Demonically possessed spiders maul his face and kill him. Back at the hotel in room 36, Martha cleans up the bathtub when Joe's zombie corpse emerges. In a scene that mimics Zombi 2, Martha's eye pops out after a nail impales the back of her head. Zombie versions of Schweik, Joe, Mary-Anne, and Arthur invade Emily's house, and she commands her attack dog Dickie to protect her. When the dog goes missing, Emily gets worried; Dickie finally returns as a zombie and kills the unsuspecting Emily.

At the hotel, Liza is terrorized by supernatural spirits, but John arrives in time to save her. As they drive away, the gate to hell finally opens. There are many zombies at the hospital, and the only humans left are Harris and Jill; Harris is killed by a flying shard of glass, and Jill becomes possessed and attacks Liza, which forces John to shoot and kill Jill with a handgun. The terrified couple rush downstairs. Instead of entering the hospital basement, they enter a supernatural wasteland that was seen in Schweick's painting at the beginning of the film: it is too late, and they are trapped in the beyond for all eternity.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Following the release of City of the Living Dead, Fulci decided to continue that film's exploration of metaphysical concepts — in particular, the ways in which the realms of both the living and the dead might bleed into each other. Fulci also wanted to do a film that would pay homage to his idol, the French playwright Antonin Artaud. Artaud, a sometime member of the early 20th Century Surrealist movement, envisioned theatre being less about linear plot and more about "cruel" imagery and symbolism that could shock its audience into action.[citation needed]

Thus, Fulci's original outline for The Beyond was of a non-linear haunted house story with the only solid plot element being that of a woman moving into a hotel built on one of the seven gates of hell (another such gate is depicted in City of the Living Dead). This original story focused on the dead leaving hell and entering the hotel with little outside of the ensuing carnage to link the scenes together.[citation needed]

However, the German distribution company that owned the release rights to Fulci's films at the time were not interested in a haunted house story. Zombie movies were still popular at the time in Europe and Fulci's backers wanted something similar to his previous zombie films. Fulci agreed to rewrite his film, adding zombies and completely rewriting the film's final act to include a shoot-out between the main characters and a zombie horde at a local hospital.[citation needed] Despite these revisions, the final product is considered by many fans to be one of Fulci's best films and has even been praised for its oneiric incoherence.[1][not in citation given]

Filming took place in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, with studio work completed in Rome. The historic Otis House at Fairview-Riverside State Park was used as the main location, the Seven Doors Hotel.[2]

Themes[edit]

According to Fulci, the ending of The Beyond is not a happy ending but at the same time not an unhappy one. The other-dimensional realm that the main characters find themselves trapped in at the end is, according to Fulci, a refuge of sorts that exists outside of time and space. Some fans have taken the notion that the realm is a sort of purgatory for souls, with the presence of the blind girl as evidence of it.[citation needed]

Release[edit]

The film was originally released theatrically in the UK in 1981 and received extensive BBFC cuts to scenes of violence, notably the assorted eye gouge scenes, the opening whipping sequence, and the killings of Emily and Martin by (respectively) dog and tarantulas. It later spent some time on the video nasty list before being removed without prosecution, and all VHS releases featured the same cut cinema print. It was finally passed fully uncut in 2001 and released on DVD on the Vipco label.

Though it was released in Europe in 1981, The Beyond did not see a U.S. release until 1983 through Aquarius Releasing. The film was released to theaters for a brief theatrical run under the alternate title, Seven Doors of Death. Besides changing the name of the film, the film was heavily edited to tone down the film's graphic murder sequences with a new musical score. This alternately titled re-edited version was quickly released on video by Thriller Video.

As years went on, demand for a high quality, official uncensored release of The Beyond grew considerably, especially as the VHS copies under the title of Seven Doors of Death went out of print and became next to impossible to find.

In the mid-1990s, Bob Murawski and Sage Stallone of Grindhouse Releasing went to Italy and met with director Lucio Fulci (and subsequently with his daughter) in order to obtain the rights to re-master and distribute the film. Murawski and Stallone had completely digitally remastered and produced the DVD, uncut and completely uncensored, and meticulously curated all the numerous bonus materials. In order to receive a wider audience, filmmaker and distributor Quentin Tarantino lent his name to the finished DVD and it was re-released through a division of Tarantino's Rolling Thunder Production Company and Miramax Films. The Beyond played throughout the U.S. as a midnight movie feature and was the highest earning film for Rolling Thunder at that time. The film has since been continuously re-released solely by Grindhouse Releasing, the official licensed distributor of the film in North America.

DVD and Blu-ray releases[edit]

On October 10, 2000, Grindhouse Releasing co-distributed the film in collaboration with Anchor Bay Entertainment on DVD in both a limited edition tin-box set, and a standard DVD. There were only 20,000 limited edition sets released for purchase. The limited edition set was packaged in a tin box with alternative cover artwork, including an informative booklet on the film's production as well as various miniature poster replications.

The film has since been continuously re-released by Grindhouse Releasing, the sole official licensed distributor of the film in North America. Grindhouse Releasing is currently working on an upcoming Blu-ray release of the film.

In March 2011, a region-free Blu-ray of the film was released in the UK by the distributor Arrow Films, followed by a limited edition steelbook re-release on October 21, 2013.[3]

The Blu-ray version of the film is expected to be released in Australia on November 20, 2013.

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, The Beyond received positive reviews by 61% of 18 reviews; the average rating was 6.2/10.[4] Allmovie called the film a "surreal and bloody horror epic" and labeled it "Italian horror at its nightmarish extreme".[5] Time Out, on the other hand, called it "a shamelessly artless horror movie whose senseless story – a girl inherits a spooky, seedy hotel which just happens to have one of the seven doors of Hell in its cellar – is merely an excuse for a poorly connected series of sadistic tableaux of torture and gore."[6] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film half a star out of four, writing, "The movie is being revived around the country for midnight cult showings. Midnight is not late enough."[7]

the film ranked #60 on Bravo Television's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for the scene where John shoots possessed Jill's face off.[citation needed] In the early 2010s, Time Out conducted a poll with several authors, directors, actors and critics who have worked within the horror genre to vote for their top horror films.[8] The Beyond placed at number 49 on their top 100 list.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Top Ten Devil-Themed Horror Films for Christmas!". Bloody Disgusting. 
  2. ^ Details of the New Orleans based shooting with photos are available in an interview with Larry Ray, who was assistant to the producer for the New Orleans based filming, by French film critic and researcher, Lionel Grenier at: Interview with Larry Ray, Recollections of Fulci and New Orleans Filming
  3. ^ The Beyond Steelbook [1]
  4. ^ "E tu vivrai nel terrore - L'aldilà (The Beyond) (1981)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Guarisco, Donald. "The Beyond (1981)". Allmovie. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "The Beyond (1981)". Time Out. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Beyond". Sun-Times. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "The 100 best horror films". Time Out. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ CC. "The 100 best horror films: the list". Time Out. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 

Thrower, Stephen. Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci, Fab Press, 2002. ISBN 0-9529260-6-7

External links[edit]