The Beyond (1981, dir. Lucio Fulci)
Before two years ago, I hadn’t seen The Beyond since 1987 when I convinced my older cousin to rent it. This was a phase in my life when I was obsessed with horror and make up visual effects. I was looking for ways to create “realistic” zombie make up effects, and I had read an older issue of Fangoria and there was an article about Lucio Fulci and his movies. I read the article and wanted to see the movie and attempt to copy the designs in the pictures.
Flash forward to the summer of 2012 and I have a chance to see this movie at the Alamo Drafthouse at a now defunct series called “Blood Thirsty Thursdays.” I had caught the second showing of the night, and luckily for me the theater was empty. This was optimal viewing of this movie. So many memories came flooding back. Faces melting, eyes gouged out, dripping corpses. Fantastic.
I don’t have a lot to write about this movie, other than if you’ve never seen a Lucio Fulci film, see one as soon as you can – preferably not an American edition of the movie, as they’re usually heavily edited. In 2012 I saw a European print and it was fan-fucking-tasticaly fun. The idea of a family run hotel build atop a doorway to Hell is what I miss about modern horror. No one wants to address esoteric ideas about what it means to have generational connections to Hell, the existential meaning of Hell as a lonely and miserable place, not the inferno of fire and brimstone as most popular depictions show. This was one of the first movies that shook me because it showed an aspect of horror that wasn’t only contingent upon gore; don’t read that last part as stating that this movie isn’t gory because it is gory as hell. But this movie instead discusses and eventually depicts Hell as a lonely place where the true horror is you facing yourself and the worst aspects of who you are. No one will be there to interact, it will only be you. You will only be able to remember all that you did wrong in life and at some point you will walk into yet another void and vanish into an existential space of non-existence. Nothingness. Not even the self can exist. There is nothing.
That idea bugged me as a kid and it still bugs me. I’d rather think of a Hell populated by demons and the undead in constant torment because at least there is something else. In this postulation of an afterlife, the suffering is continued from life and then eventual dissolution into nothing. I love Italian horror.