The Beyond [DVD]
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Italian horror directed by Lucio Fulci. Liza Merril (Catriona MacColl) inherits a run-down Louisiana hotel and decides to restore it to its former glory. But the renovation work gets held up by a series of bizarre murders involving killer dogs and zombies, leading Liza to suspect that something might be wrong with her new acquisition. Aided by her friend Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck), she begins to investigate and soon discovers that her hotel is built upon a gateway to Hell...
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 --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
Top customer reviews
A loose description of the film, I say loose because the plot is a mere skeleton cleverly used to keep the flesh and blood of the film together, a vague structure to attach a brooding doomed atmosphere and dark traditional gothic horror with outlandish surrealism and disjointed nightmares all topped off with excessively violent and very excessively stylish gore. Starting in 1927 at the Seven Doors Hotel Schweik the artist is painting a haunted landscape when a lynch mob comes in, whips him senseless with chains and then drags him into the basement, he tries even in this heavily beaten state to warn the mob that the hotel was built on one of the gateways to hell but to no avail, he is crucified and melted with large dollops of lime in an eight minute opening screened in black and white with a golden yellow tint that is both visually stunning and mysteriously haunting, this scene ending with a young woman (Emily) reading from an old book "Woe be unto him who opens one of the seven gateways to hell because through that gateway evil will invade the world...". Cue 1981 and Liza has inherited the now run down hotel, sadly her attempts at restoring the old place are met with disaster after disaster, the local painter falls from the roof which introduces the doctor John McCabe who becomes the other leading character and a close friend of Liza, as the two get close and weird unexplainable events surround them people seem to come, go and die without any real direction to the film but that itself is the ingenious structure (or lack thereof) of the film. A seemingly structured haunted house story gradually and progressively becomes a confusingly disjointed horror mystery with far more questions than answers leaving much up to individual interpretation as the characters begin to question their sanity and indeed reality. Are Liza and John losing their minds or is hell itself stretching out and swallowing the small town and its residents, are the dead coming back to life or do those haunted victims bodies represent ghosts shuffling through a hell the living are already engulfed in? To give you any more than I already have would be to deprive you the joy of being absorbed by the film and making your own judgements but I will say this, the ending is among the most brilliant I've ever seen and the film as a whole my absolute favourite.
Twelve years ago I had the joy of watching this curious and bizarre little film, made with about $400,000 and carried from its initial release through home video to the uninitiated and potentially the masses purely through the love and dedication of the legion of fans it has spawned these last three and a half decades. What I saw would change me forever, at first I'll admit this teenage boy knew not what to make of the film, it was filmed brilliantly, most shots were visually captivating, the gore on show was unrealistically excessive but so stylish and done with such complete disregard for convention that it stood out and impressed immediately, in contrast to this crude and bold aspect was the atmosphere which generally looked the part of a southern gothic horror and a beautiful one at that, as eerie as it was captivating cinematographer Sergio Salvati and director Lucio Fulci knew what they were doing and made something unique! The atmosphere was intoxicating and further amplified by Fabio Frizzi's wonderfully playful but suitably haunting score, at one point this music, usually playing as part of the soundtrack is actually being played by the blind character Emily which makes me smile, an amusing if subtle attempt to break the barrier between film and reality, clearly Fulci thought that making a film about the gates between hell and earth being broken he wanted to hint that all dimensions and realities are in danger of seeping into one another. Just as realities are in danger of merging and polluting one another so too do film genre's, the violence and shocking spectacle a lurid show of B-movie excess, the gothic style reminiscent of 60's haunted horrors, the playful use and abuse of linear structure coupled with the visually and spiritually captivating moments taken from the surreal end of art-house cinema and the plot a mish-mash of the three and more. The film has gained as many distractors as fans who will hate the film with a vengeance but lets face it any film that provokes such marmite reactions is doing something right, love it or hate it you'll never find another film quite like "The Beyond". Sadly the purely moment to moment nature of the film is its biggest enemy as well as its greatest ally and frankly many a person just can't get their head around the fact that this structure (or seemingly lack of) is deliberate and a good thing, Fulci never wanted to adhere to the rules of mainstream film-making with this project and didn't fail on their standards, instead he created his own rules based on the nightmare logic of H.P.Lovecraft and by those standards which very few have tried to challenge and even fewer have had any success in Fulci reigns supreme, a genius if not of commercial cinema then of fever dream delirium caught on camera!
Having waffled more than long enough on the merits of the film lets get down to this new special edition by US label Grindhouse Releasing, the set has a cool glow in the dark slipover cover which houses a two disc 14mm Blu-ray case with director Fulci's filmography inside the box along with a collectors booklet with a foreword by cult critic Chas Balun and a short piece by Martin Beine who debates influences from films that may have inspired this one, oddly enough the Japanese classic "Jigoku" which I'd always seen as an influence of sorts was absent as were the films of Jose Mojica Marins who I believe had an influence but its an interesting read to say the least. Inside the slipover is a cardboard wallet with the CD soundtrack which will delight fans of the film who love the sounds of Fabio Frizzi, its not just one or two tracks its a good 40 odd minutes worth. The film which is taken from a new master looks better than ever, the only other company to attempt this in HD were Arrow Video who sadly did a so-so transfer with all sorts of glitches and problems so this version is a very welcome and picture perfect edition in that respect, the audio commentary seen in many a previously released version is present with the late David Warbeck and Catriona MacColl along with original mono audio or all new 2.0 and 5.1 remixes which seem faithful to the sound of the film, the option to watch in Italian with English subtitles is also present but as the leads who take up much of the time spoke English I'd stay with the English audio, nice to know the option is there though.
The extra's on disc one feature the full colour opening in both German (as this opening was only originally for the German release) or in English along with several trailers, hidden extra's include 20 odd minutes of other members of the cast and crew talking about Fulci as lifted from the following 4 hour analysis on the man Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered 1 [DVD]  [US Import] which I won't recommend to the casual fan of his work but to those who love his films with a passion and want a little insight into the man behind the films its a great watch. Other hidden extra's include a stills slide, the edited opening from the US re-cut version "Seven Doors of Death" and possibly more I haven't found.
Disc two is packed with so many extra's I'll have trouble listing them but here goes, an extensive stills gallery including on set stills, actor and director stills, promotional items, previous releases and other titbits. A trailer reel for all Grindhouse Releasing's past releases and some in the works along with disc credits are also present along with a slew of interviews and a few more of those hidden extra's as per disc one including a short then and now look at a few locations. The interviews include one with US production manager Larry Ray, one with the US distributor (the guy who stupidly re-edited the film!) Terry Levine. Of the cast there is an interview with the lead actress Catriona MacColl (Liza) and one with star Cinzia Monreale (Emily). There are two archive interviews with director Lucio Fulci made in 1988 which fans may have seen but are of great interest, two appearances by lead actor David Warbeck at Euro-fest the first in 1994 with Lucio Fulci and another with Catriona MacColl two years later and two separate features on the 1996 Festival of Fantasic Films one focusing on Catriona MacColl the other on David Warbeck. A joint interview with special effects make up men Giannetto De Rossi and Maurizio Tranni is present and a long retrospective documentary with people all across the board polishes off what are over four and a half hours worth of interviews!!! Add to this the hour of extra's on disc one, the hour it took me browsing through the stills and the commentary and you've got yourself an ultimate edition of an awesome film, now what are you waiting for? Stop reading and just buy it!!!
Label: ARROW VIDEO / GRINDHOUSE RELEASING
Transfer by: ARROW / GRINDHOUSE
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Media: Special Edition 3 Disc BD Set
Some Thoughts About The Movie (NOT a base for my rating):
THE BEYOND stands beyond many Italian trash and horror movies. FULCIs influence on the production made it a special kind of its own. The visual style seems directly be taken out of a ghost-story comic-art book. This comparison comes in mind due to the tradition comic art-books have in Italy. For example, MICHELE SOAVIS wonderfully crafted DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE (1994) is based on the Italian comic-book series DYLAN DOG. Have a closer look on the MARIO BAVAs works. You can make out this reference in nearly all of his movies, first of all his obvious comic-book referenced DIABOLIC! (1968). Many declare THE BEYOND as FULCIS masterpiece. I think he made some other movies having more depths in storytelling like DONT TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972) or FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE (1975) but he never achieved a movie to be more atmospheric and intense than THE BEYOND. Decoration, set-design, special effects, choice of actors, camera work, (editing I have to set in brackets), color- and light-compositions create sheer eye candy on screens. This movie was made by a talented crew who pulled the maximum out of the given (small) budget. Do not search for logic. Do not search for epic dialogue or depths in story and you may enjoy THE BEYOND due to its beautiful visuals, tense atmospheric elements and because it is referenced spiritually to POE and LOVECRAFT. I cannot label THE BEYOND a typical zombie flick, at core it is more a haunted house ghost-story featuring some (very well designed) zombies. Although FULCI relies on the impact heavily explicit gory effects have, THE BEYOND is spooky and frightening too. The mixture of atmosphere, creepy elements and gory effects is well balanced. Although it misses logic and it seems silly and unintended funny at times, the movie never really becomes antic. Strange but true, FULCI created a convincing and believable movie, regarding within its own boundaries – similar to the story-universe H.P. Lovecraft has created. The cleverly established surrealistic elements are one of the main reasons why THE BEYOND works so well although the story indeed is hair-raising. Last but not least, the musical score by NAME is awesome. It adds so much tension and underlines the atmosphere. I know this movie since the 80th. As a child I stubbed my nose at the BEYOND poster artwork at the local cinema, which I came across on my way to school. A little later I watched it for the first time, the rest is history. For me THE BEYOND is one of them movies which never loses weight through all those years. Now, regarding with a certain distance and being rationally I am going so far to call THE BEYOND a well crafted unique visionary piece of art of modern horror cinema. This is the one FULCI movie you have to see under any circumstances.
No Grain Baby, No Gain / The Transfer/ The Comparison:
The 2K transfer from original vault elements for this BD set unfortunately is nothing else than mediocre. I am afraid to say it, but after waiting all the time since ARROW released their BD-Set in 2011, this is not a definite new transfer which outperforms all earlier releases. It even seems like the same base-scan was used for this re-mastering (the sharp edges in both releases are exactly identical) but of course I could be easily wrong with this assumption.
The biggest issue with the GRINDHOUSE version is the harsh balance between dark and bright values. The so called gamma is set far too hard. Even if you turn gamma down all the way in your system (if you are lucky enough to own such a function), the gamma-balance still remains too „sharp“(ARROW did a better job on that side). That results in a hard and not film-like color and tone-reproduction. The middle and upper spectrum is hitting hard, looking slightly false. A grain structure is left throughout the whole presentation but overall the master seems to be heavily DNR-treated. THE ARROW BD has a more film-like grain structure in general. Many scenes have no texture and grip to it and faces often tend to be waxy. Do not compare the heavy grainy „car on the bridge“-segment. That scene was shot completely different than the rest of the movie and by nature it offers a lot more grain. There you can really see the filter in action. Due to the consequential loss of details overall the picture has been sharpened and one clearly can make out edge enhancement allover and especially during the little red-haired girl (No it is not a scene from THE PEANUTS) waiting in hospital floor-segment – to mention at least one extreme example.
We Interrupt Our Program For an Important Message:
People…you cannot bring back photographic details by sharpening. The quality of every frame of any film-negative is also hidden in the grain itself. Grain is a part of each developed single picture frame (depending on development process and choice of film material and amount of light), film-grain is not a disturbing flaw, it is an essential element for an organic non-digital looking result. We could also say each single photographic picture is set together by nothing more than billions of dots, created through a chemical process including the factor light. Every single dot (similar to the digital photography nowadays) contains quality details like the amount of contrast-, color, brightness and whatnot more information. The final picture can be imagined as a puzzle, put together by those dots. Using filters, those qualities will be manipulated, bent, reduced and worst of all irreparably destroyed. What is gone will be gone forever. No filter, no matter how good it works will change that or even make things better. That is impossible. What a big and commonly established error in reasoning, thinking a sharp picture automatically would be a high-quality picture. The big winner on that side is „the level of detail“ (remember the dots). Maybe you already guessed it. Grain is an essential part of „the level of detail“. Filter grain out and you mess up all the above mentioned factors - slice for slice! PLEASE STOP THIS BULLSHIT and throw your DNR overboard. Certain directors have spoken out loud that demand years ago…partially unheard by the industry. It has become way better in the last few years, but there still lies a long and winding road before them.
This is The End of The Middle of The Movie, now we continue our Program:
The ARROW BD shows the exact same problem here (edge enhancement). Maybe the lack of grip, texture and detail in general is given because they scanned a low contrast interpositive or even a dupe-negative. I am not sure about this. But for sure the inorganic looking and destructive working sharpening-filter has been applied manually by a human being. In addition there are some details missing in darker scenes but that is not really a distracting fact. The overall situation in blacks is still good. The colors seem to be boosted strongly, especially on faces and greens you can recognize this. I have the feeling this appears even more on the ARROW disc. Beside those facts I could not spot block noise, odd grain behavior (when it appears on screen) or other digital encoding atrocities. I have to mention that the ARROW print shows a very annoying bright line directly under the upper 2.35 : 1 black matting-bar. THE ARROW transfer is much more colored which supports the comic-art-book style of the movie and the GRINDHOUSE transfer was done with more focus on earthy tones which supports the grim content of the movie more. Like always, the choice is yours. ARROW also tinted the beginning sequence sepia but it looks quite different in comparison to the GRINDHOUSE opening. Despite the extreme color boosting of the ARROW version they UK mates made the more film-like and less harsh looking version. Both versions are not able to offer state of the art transfers and mastering-results.
Cut and Run:
This is a version intégrale. No inserts from low quality source-elements or SD materials have been applied.
THE BEYOND is presented completely uncut.
The great soundtrack acts as an important enforcer for the films atmosphere. It sounds as special as the movie looks. The roots basically can be found in jazz and the composer wrote it fitting the pictures mood perfectly.
The 5.1 Soundtrack unfortunately does not pay full tribute to the music qualities. It is re-mastered and mixed way too thin and clean sounding. Kind of narrow, being pushed exactly in center pan-position, what results in certain segments sounding like not being an organic part of the movie at all. Regarding the foley-sounds, for example the thunder at the beginning, they completely have gone mad piloting the sub-bass frequencies. I do not like the sound of this 5.1 soundtrack at all. What they did to the picture using too much filtering, finds its equivalent in the sound re-mastering.
I stuck with the 2-way stereo track which I find much more homogeneous, while not being „perfect“ either.
I did not listen to the whole original mono-soundtrack but I think it will be purists first choice. Since my childhood days I am a total music freak and I do operate a little sound-studio for myself and therefore I am extremely critical, concerning sound-design, mixing and mastering.
Fans and collectors in general may spend their money for this BD Set without remorse. Because GRINDHOUSE released a great collectors item regarding supplement materials which includes a booklet, a Soundtrack CD and a second BD with tons of extras. The Package is wrapped by a thin carton imprinted with a reproduction of the legendary cool designed poster in green, yellow and red colors. It is the same artwork ANCHOR BAY used years ago on their beautiful limited Tin-Box-DVD Set which still sits on my shelf. Well done GRINDHOUSE.
People with big screen-home-cinema-systems or HD-projectors and videophile film-gourmets will have to live with the many obvious flaws regarding the visual quality of this transfer (and the sound-mixing decisions). Do not panic. As always, the biggest cows on the meadow will be milked and milked again and there will for sure be a glorious 4K transfer out there one day. Because we got the cash-cow situation in film business, I assume at first someone will throw a further new 2K transfer on the market in the future. Anyhow, stay tuned…it will be exiting. For now I finally have to state that there still does not exist a definite digital film-transfer of THE BEYOND on the whole wide world.
How I rate / What I rate:
My ratings refer exclusively to technical aspects of BD sets. The more film-like a HD transfer looks and feels via a projection, the more high-class the source is scanned and digitally treated afterwards, the higher my ratings will be. Digital phenomena like edge enhancement, block noise, digital appealing grain, swarming grain / noise behavior and DNR filtering will directly result in lower ratings.
I do not rate movies at all. In the introduction part I just offer my opinion, based on taste, preferences and knowledge about film/photography in general. Movies are artificial constructions where many efforts have been taken (including complex postproduction) to accomplish a vision of whatsoever kind. No movie made for cinema ever shot has earned a 1 star rating on AMAZON or a 1 point rating on IMDB. I have studied many publications about making films, their psychological impact, and the subject violence on film. I am a hobby photographer knowing much about frame compositions, color and light effects and different styles. I am also a hobby musician and sound designer for my own private joy. I could rate a movie/ its soundtrack, but why should I? Things are what they are and nothing more or less. I like to think beyond mind constructed terms of good and bad. So called "objectivity" becomes fast diluted by preferences which results in comments of personal taste. These comments are fine but they go without any base value for creating a rating-scale out of them. Technical aspects are a different kind of matter. DNR, edge enhancement, block noise and such things are obvious even on small screens and maybe we can speak more of objectivity and measurability in this area. I think we should be informed about the quality of a product.
All about Ev(m)e:
I am a collector of films for 27 Years, own about 3.000 films (would be far more, but I often sort out transfers I do not like) and watch them in a home-cinema room via big screen projection. I am also a hobby musician and photographer with some experience scanning camera negatives in high definitions. I am fascinated by analog film since I am a kid and spent hours for hours in cinemas and visiting film festivals.
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