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My Favorite Fulci Film Unforgivably Poorly Handled by Arrow
on 18 May 2011
Greetings from accross the pond. I pre-ordered this title as soon as it became available on Amazon.uk. "The Beyond" is my favorite Fulci film for many reasons. The film does lack a coherent plot, but that is part of the charm. You never quite know what to expect aorund the next corner. There is a palpable sense of unease and dread that permeates this film from start to finish. This is due to Fulci's direction, the excellent cinematography, and the great locations in Louisiana where they did the location work.
This film more than any other seems to reflect Fulci's outlook on this life and the next. He feels like we are living through this life, filled with pain, suffering, and torment, waiting for the inevitable void (or perhaps unending suffering)that lies in wait for us all at the end of our lives. When viewed through this construct the movie carries an even heavier sense of dread - a feeling like you're being buried alive with the characters.
The actors in this film do an admiarble job with the material they are given. I can only imaging them saying "What in God's name did we get ourselves into" every day when they received their scripts. I'm sure they figured it wouldn't matter in a few years because these films would vanish into obscurity in a few years. Fortunately for us (and them) they didn't vanish. In fact people slowly began to realize that Fulci's films were worthy of study and repeat viewing. Fans and critics began to see just how talented Fulci, his cast, and crew were. Looking at these films it is amazing to me that they came together as well as they did, especially considering they were shot with miniscule budgets, on very short location and studio shoots, and were shot on poor quality 35mm or sometimes 16mm film stock. Not to mention the fact that some of Fulci's location shoots here in America were done illegally with no film permits. In some cases they had to shoot very quickly and hit the road before the police arrived.
And lest we forget, these films live and die by the astounding Italian special effects artists. And they are indeed artists. They worked with very little and created some of the most stunning and visually disturbing scenes every committed to film. Even to this day the effect shots still hold up very well considering what they had to work with. I'll take these type of effect shots any day over the modern CG rubbish that litters horror films these days. No matter how many times I view Fulci and Argento films, I'm still amazed all over again by the shots the SFX technicians were able to create.
So for the film itself FIVE STARS ACCROSS THE BOARD......
NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS.....
Arrow really screwed up BIG TIME on this release. First of all who is the moron who didn't realize the prologue to this film should have been in sepia? Anyone who knows anything about this film knows this, so how did this escape Arrows attention??? Arrow originally said the B&W opening was on screening copies only. Then they said it affected "a limited amount of retail copies." Turns out they were lying. ALL of the released discs had the incorrect opening. In additon, the discs were on a 25gb Blu-ray disc, despite the packaging that stated it was a 50gb disc.
The PQ on the intial release was terrible. Fine object detail was very poor, DNR was clearly evident, and the brightness of the film was blown way out. I wanted to poke my eyes out and bang my head on the coffee table while watching the Arrow version of "The Beyond." I was indeed "living in terror." I was completely disappointed and frustrated.
I found out by chance that Arrow was offering a replacement program to people who wanted a corrected disc. I sent all my info to Arrow and received a prompt reply. It took awhile to get my disc after being put off for over a month. The corrected disc is a significant improvement over the initial disc. Fine object detail was significantly better, as was color. The brightness had been thankfully been dialed down. I can still see DNR, but it's not as bad as on the Arrow "City of the Living Dead" and "Inferno" releases. This version of "The Beyond" is the best the film has looked on video, but there is room for improvement. I understand that Grindhouse Releasing has the rights here in the U.S., and that they're in the process of prepping it for release. Hopefully they will do a better job.
The bottom line? Arrow was dishonest from the beginning about this release. Yes, they did offer a corrected disc to those of us who frequent select online horror sites. But what about all the other buyers who know nothing about the replacement? Arrow should have admitted they messed up, pushed back the release date, and corrected the issue BEFORE the blu-ray was released. That is unforgivable.
And shame on Amazon, a site I highly respect. Amazon should pull this out of circulation until they receive corrected copies. Amazon usually does this, so I'm stumped as to why they have not in this case.
Now Arrow is doing even worse with the upcoming "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage." Don't even get me started on that! "We couldn't screen the film until after we signed the contract" What utter rubbish! Arrow you are putting the nails in your own coffin, and shoveling the dirt into your own grave by releasing these bastardized films. Good thing we have Blue Underground and Bill Lustig to get it right!!!