Lucio "King of the Eyeball Gag" Fulci made his name with a series of gory, gooey horror epics, and The Beyond
stands above all as his outré masterpiece. The largely incoherent plot has something to do with a turn-of-the-century curse and a doorway to hell in the cellar of an old New Orleans hotel. Fulci shows his usual sensitivity with wooden acting, clumsy dialogue, and buckets of oozing blood and pus, but don't let that get in the way of enjoying this mad tale of zombies from hell invading Earth and eating their way through a cast of humans: crucified martyrs, blind visionaries, creepy hotel handymen, befuddled cops, and a plucky pair of heroes desperately fleeing a horde of hungry undead. The blood-red art direction is eerily beautiful, and Fulci's relentless long takes, punctuated by jolting shock cuts and eruptions of grotesque violence, create a mood of sheer paranoid horror right down to the final, mind-bending image. And don't forget the Fulci claim to fame: eyes are gouged out, eaten away, melted with acid, and (shudder) popped out by a spike through the back of the skull. Yech! If you dare ignore such piddling details as narrative logic and let yourself get carried away on the creepy visuals, it's a deliciously stylish treat, an edgy bit of Gothic gore pitched in all its bone-crunching, flesh-ripping, organ-splatting glory. This sadistic, sanguinary hell-spawn tale is for gore-hounds only. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com
A young woman from New York named Liza (Katherine MacColl) inherits a Louisiana motel that has been unoccupied for nearly 60 years. While restoring the old building, many of the workers meet mysterious and untimely deaths, each more ill-fated than the next. Furthermore, Liza is visited by a blind specter named Emily (Sarah Keller) who lectures from a 4,000-year-old book of collected prophecies that explains the motel is situated above one of seven portals to hell. As her sanity dwindles, Liza finds some much-needed stability in a local doctor named John McCabe (David Warbeck), who is determined to find a rational explanation for the recent state of affairs. Nevertheless, the protagonists are led through a maze of bizarre confrontations with beings beyond the realm of the living, and into an apocalyptic world of unknown horrors. THE BEYOND is at once the quintessential Lucio Fulci film and a staple in the overall Italian horror genre. The director's epic masterpiece is a blend of atmospheric surrealism and nightmarish visions (a grisly tarantula attack, flesh-melting acid spills, a softball-sized gun blast through the skull of a young zombified girl, and an eyeball impaling or two) that are definitely unsuitable for those with weak stomachs.