Your source for retro horror movie and book reviews

Posts tagged “The Beyond

Fright Fest: The Beyond (1981)

 

beyondposter

Lucio Fulci was a giant of Italian horror cinema. Actually, scrap that. I couldn’t vouch for the accuracy of that statement as I wasn’t old enough to be aware of Lucio Fulci in his heyday; but since I discovered my love of lurid horror, director Lucio Fulci has certainly seemed like a giant to me. The man appears on the infamous Video Nasties list three times, and even though some of his other titles didn’t make it on that infamous list of banned movies in the 1980s, they certainly should. It’s true that Zombie Flesh Eaters probably made most of an impact on cinema with its grimy interpretation of the walking dead. A move away from the comically blue versions found in Dawn of the Dead; the decomposing look actually came about due to budget restrictions. A few wipes of clay across the monster’s faces and a new image was born!

However, it was The Beyond that stands head and shoulders above the rest as the best film he created. It is actually considered the second part of loosely based ‘ gates of hell’ trilogy which compromises of City Of The Living Dead, The Beyond and House By The Cemetery. The plot centers around a hotel. Originally owned by the artist who was murdered (in glorious detail at the start) by locals fearing he was practicing black magic. Years later a young woman inherits the hotel and decides to renovate and re-open it. However, the hotel stands over one of the seven doors of death. This is not going to end well…

beyond2

What follows is a dream-like narrative that just manages to keeps the story together, giving the movie a sense of strange unease. However, the other benefit this offers is that it allows the director to lurch from set piece to set piece. And this is why I love this film so much, there is no filler. Like the 1963 version of Jason and the Argonauts (which you really need to go back and view again), the film is a riot of scenes that leave you gasping for air with excitement, but no room to catch your breath before the next sequence continues the onslaught of its run time.

Released in 1981, not all the special effects are great and you’ll need to cut it some slack for the obviously fake spiders that lurk in the background behind the real tarantula’s that slowly make their way towards the fallen man as he lies sprawled out on the floor.

beyond3

But hang on, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

In order to describe how amazing this film is I’m going to go through a scene summary. Be warned, there will be spoilers. So if you don’t want to know what happens before your first viewing then don’t read any further, but actually, I don’t think knowing any of the plots will spoil the experience.

This film is ghoulishly brilliant entertainment and can easily be enjoyed with countless repeat viewings. (I know, I’ve tested it).

So join me, my fiendish friend. Let me take you by the tentacle and lead you through the scenes of Lucio Fulci’s splatter film masterpiece.

Ready let’s go:

It starts in 1927 (and in sepia to suggest olden times) A group of men storms the hotel. They accuse a painter of being a warlock, viscously attack him and nail him to the wall before melting his face with acid.

Cut to titles sequence, with a cool backdrop of fire and an awesome soundtrack.

Next, up to a builder, working on the renovations, sees a mysterious face causing him to fall from some scaffolding. Cue much blood and screaming.

beyond4

Continuing with the building work, a plumber comes to fix the flooded basement. He discovers a secret room. Suddenly a monstrous claw shoots from mud and claws his face, slowly pulling his eye from its socket.

A strange, blind woman appears and gives a warning for the new owner to leave the hotel.

Acid falls on a woman’s face as her daughter watches. The daughter tries to escape the acid as it pools across the floor. She opens a door to reveal approaching zombies who reach for her.

The blind woman touches the warlock’s painting causing her hands to bleed.

The hotel owner sees the corpse of the warlock nailed to a bathroom wall. Blood pours from the brickwork.

A man falls from a library ladder. Tarantulas slowly surround his prone body, crawl all over him and messily devour his flesh, biting out his tongue and stabbing their fangs into his eyes.

A hotel hand unblocks the bath in the haunted Room 36. The draining water reveals a zombie that slowly rises and grabs her face. It pushes the back of her skull into a nail on the wall. The nail is forced out through her eye socket, pushing out her eyeball.

beyond5

Zombies surround the blind woman in her house. Her dog attacks them before turning on her. He rips her throat out and tears her ear from her skull.

A woman gets attacked by a zombie in the basement.

The hotel shakes and water turn to blood, making a couple flee.

The couple is surrounded by zombies in a hospital. Brandishing a gun, the man shoots many in the head, but the undead is too numerous.

beyond6

A window shatters causing the glass to fly through the air, hitting another man in the face and killing him as it slices into his skin.

Zombies corner the couple, now with a child.

The child violently turns on the couple but is halted when the man viscously shoots her in the face. (makes me cheer every single time)

Fleeing from the zombies, the couple finds themselves back in the basement. Heading towards a light they find themselves in the landscape from the warlock’s painting. Looking around, the basement and hotel have disappeared. They are trapped in hell!
They run into the void with the last shot showing us they have both been blinded.

END!
Phew!

So as you can see there is no messing around with this film. No awkward sex scenes to fill time, or reams of stilted dialogue to advance a convoluted plot. It is simplicity, brilliantly executed, and guaranteed to provide you all the thrills and kills you could want from this high-water mark in over the top, glorious Italian horror.

What more could you want a fun-filled Halloween night?
Exactly.
Trust me.
Make a date with The Beyond.

megreen

J.R. Park is an author of horror fiction and co-founder of the publishing imprint the Sinister Horror Company. He has currently written four books: Terror Byte, Punch, Upon Waking and The Exchange, as well as appearing in a number of short story anthologies. Arthouse, pulp, and exploitation alike inform his inspirations, as well as misheard conversations, partially remembered childhood terrors and cheese before sleep. He currently resides in Bristol, UK. Find out more at JRPark.co.uk and SinisterHorrorCompany.com

Did you like what you read here? Be sure to subscribe to our SPAM FREE newsletter. Keep in the loop with new book releases, sales, giveaways, future articles, guest posts, and of course…a free eBook copy of Strange Authors, an anthology that includes some of the weirdest and vilest writers in the horror community. (click below).

freebookposter

Advertisements

Gourmandizing Hulu’s Wondrous Horror Collection

More than any month of the year, October bids us to watch more then normal amounts of horror. We dip into our collective vaults of DVD and Blu Ray frights. And of course, in the Age of Instant Streaming, we’re given the added benefit, though life-draining practice, of watching movies online through sites such as Crackle, Shutter, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. While these streaming proprietors may in fact be digital vampires, ghost in the machine hypnotists singing sweet lullabies, tempting us to sit hour after hour, binging on our most favorite shows and movies, we cannot deny the often overwhelming selection they provide. Netflix has stumbled a bit in horror selections in recent years, though you can still find a good amount of classic picks.  I’m not a member of Shutter, so I cannot make any kind of comment of their selections. Nor do I watch anything on Amazon. I’m a fan of the cheap, and when it comes to more bang for your buck, both Netflix and Hulu are worthwhile choices for those looking to get away from the endless money pit of cable and dish networks. Its interesting how easy it is to find a best of list on both Netflix and even YouTube, journeymen and women who’ve done the leg work to provide a collective list of top tens or so for us to dabble our curious appetites. However, I haven’t seen many Hulu lists, and I find that strange. Why? Have you been on the horror genre list on Hulu, have you seen? Well…allow me to say, Hulu boasts the largest/cheapest collection of horror movies that would satisfy any deranged loon. The only drawback is that there are TONS of horror movies to pick from. Thus brings us to the point. We need a list. We need a Hulu Horror List. Here, you’ll find not the BEST OF; rather, my own personal picks from Hulu’s dark and endless vault. Enjoy!

lord of illusions

Lord of Illusions (1995): Based on a Clive Barker short story, Private eye Harry D’Amour (Scott Bakula) travels to Los Angeles and meets with a new client, Dorothea Swann (Famke Janssen). Swann reveals that she and her husband — famed magician Philip Swann (Kevin J. O’Connor) — have been targeted by a religious cult experimenting with reincarnation. After Philip dies on stage in the midst of a dangerous trick, D’Amour must struggle to protect Dorothea from the ruthless cult members and their newly reanimated religious leader, Nix (Daniel Von Bargen). 

Hellraiser I & II (1987, 1988): These picks are conjoined because they’re perfect watching back to back. Part II picks up not long after the traumatic events from the first flick, continuing the misadventures of would-be twenty-something Kirsty Cotton verses Pinhead and his leather bound Cenobites. If you haven’t indulged in these of Barker’s darker imaginings, please do. It’ll make a great choice among any Halloween marathon listing. Forever classic and haunting.

motel hell

Motel Hell (1980): No list is complete without some gore-heavy satire! Motel Hell is about a brother sister duo, Vincent Smith (Rory Calhoun) and his sister Ida (Nancy Parsons), who run a rural hotel, but they earn most of their cash operating a food stand that specializes in world-famous sausages. After years of success, however, the duo’s upstanding brother, Sheriff Bruce (Paul Linke), eventually discovers the grotesque details of his siblings’ booming business: Vincent and Ida are actually plumping up their hotel patrons, killing and dismembering them and then grinding them into frankfurters.

Cannibal Holocaust (1979): While you’re out watching The Green Inferno, be sure to check out this original masterpiece of fright. Cannibal Holocaust was one of the first steady-cam mockumentaries/found-footage flicks. An American professor flies down into the Green Inferno, to discover the fate of a group of documentary crew. And he found them alright, what was left anyhow. He also found what remained of their footage. Upon his return, the professor watches the grisly footage. Cannibal Holocaust is a fantastic film. Old but still gritty and gruesome, even by today’s standards.  

ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES (1978): If you haven’t seen this one, you probably never will. Pure science-fiction satire, spoof, low-budget flick about over-sized killer tomatoes that go on a rampage killing people…yup.

candyman

Candyman (1992): There sure seem to be a lot of Clive Barker based flicks on this list…what does that say about me??? Whatever! Candyman is a classic mythology story about resurgence and racism. Skeptical graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) befriends Anne-Marie McCoy (Vanessa Williams) while researching superstitions in a housing project on Chicago’s Near North Side. From Anne-Marie, Helen learns about the Candyman (Tony Todd), a knife-wielding figure of urban legend that some of her neighbors believe to be responsible for a recent murder. After a mysterious man matching the Candyman’s description begins stalking her, Helen comes to fear that the legend may be all too real.

The Thaw (2009): Not the best among Hulu’s options, but certainly a decent flick. I think the reason why I watched it and included it on my list is that the movie reminded me a lot of the classic X-Files episode from season 1, code named “Ice,” when Mulder and Skully are sent to investigate when a team of geophysicists stationed at a remote Alaskan outpost are killed by a parasitic alien life form. In The Thaw, ecology students discover a prehistoric parasite that has been released from the melting polar ice cap threatens the safety of the world. Again, you may find the acting to be a bit sub-par, but the premise and story is, I thought, pretty creepy.

Cannibal Ferox (1981): Jesus…what’s wrong with me? My list seems to be full of Barker flicks and cannibal films…I think I may need professional help. Until then, if you’re collecting a list of gruesome grind house type movies to add to your Halloween month list, you may want to consider Cannibal Ferox. There isnt much to plot here, just gore, and lots and lots and lots of it. The basic premise is this, a cocaine dealer and an anthropology student fall victim to cannibalistic Colombian natives…boom…there you go, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

scanners

Scanners (1981): Okay…finally, a Cronenberg film! Here you’ll find men and women born with incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers. There are many who exercise the benefits of their special gifts in a safe and judicious manner. However, there is a group of renegade scanners who plan to create a race that will rule the world. If anything, you need to watch this movie for a very infamous scene and nod towards practical effects. Its great! You’ll know it when you see it…

The Beyond (1981): If you haven’t seen this one, you need to. Its a mesmerizing gem that at first feels kinda lack-luster, right? But as the film progresses, so does the bizarre. Its a fantastic journey and somewhat artistic film by famed Italian director Lucio Fulci…and yup, he put zombies in there too!

Demons (1985): A group of people are trapped in a large movie theater in West Berlin that is infected by ravenous demons who proceed to kill and posses the humans one-by-one, thereby multiplying their numbers…..enough said!

Pieces (1982): In this violent and gut-wrenchingly gory flick, set in a Boston university, the story centers on a crazed meat cleaver killer who hacks up hapless women in the hopes of building his dream girl. A throwback to the 70s savage cinema era. If you can stomach this one, you might want to add it to your list, along side every other cannibal flick I’ve mentioned. You can book your therapist after.

intruder

Intruder (1989): Nearing the end of the Slasher Age comes a grisly picture, a claustrophobic thriller set entirely in a small supermarket, whose owner is preparing to go out of business. This doesn’t sit too well with one of the staff members, who busily butchers the night crew using the tools of the trade (hooks, axes, knives, power tools, and so on). A fantastic gore and practical effect based horror tune that even cameos Sam & Ted Raimi and the man, the legend, Bruce Campbell!!!

Well, there you have it folks. Not a top pick, but a solid pick from among Hulu’s endless treasure trove of horror. If you have the time, be sure to check out some others on their site. Lots to pick, lots of golden B-flicks as well, and even more classic ones, including: Evil Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Cronos, Carnival of Souls, The Innkeepers, The Brood, and so many more!!