Beyond, The (DVD)
Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Sarah Keller, Maria Pia Marsala
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Released by Grindhouse Releasing
Man, it had been a long time since I’d last seen The Beyond; almost 7 years come to think of it. I had the Anchor Bay tin edition when it first came out and gave it a real serious viewing, but that was the last time I’d really let myself get sucked into Fulci’s mad, mad world. That’s just too long, if you ask me.
The story, for the few of you who have no idea what this movie’s really about, follows an American woman, Liza (MacColl, dubbed to cover her British accent), who inherits a hotel in New Orleans from her dead rich uncle. She’s in the process of renovating it so she can open it to the public, this being her “last chance” at being successful, but we know something she doesn’t; this hotel was built on one of the seven doorways to hell, and just the presence of human life within it’s walls have forced that doorway open.
So we follow a series of bizarre, sometimes nonsensical, occurrences as the doorway grows more powerful and the man who originally found the key to open the gate, Schweick, claims more and more victims. Deathly highlights include man-eating tarantulas, a face melting courtesy of spilled acid, and one of the best head explosions ever caught on film.
There is more of a plot, but not much. There’s the blind character Emily (Keller) who we see in the prologue reading from the dreaded Book of Eibon before all hell breaks loose. She wanders around spookily with her bigass German Shepherd, handing out cryptic warnings to Liza about the hotel. She’s suffers the worst death of all, actually, since she is betrayed by the one creature she thought could be trusted, as they drag her soul back to The Beyond.
So yes, The Beyond is lacking in the logic and linear storytelling, but it more than makes up for it in sheer insanity and classic Italian makeup effects. There’s a very good reason The Beyond is seen as Fulci’s masterpiece (though personally I prefer Zombie) and it’s commendable that Grindhouse have made the effort to get it back out to the fans who have been paying way too much for the out-of-print Anchor Bay edition for too long.
Their brand-new high definition anamorphic transfer is just amazing, plain and simple. The film has never, ever looked this crisp or clean. Scenes that some thought would forever be hidden in shadows can now be easily deciphered and finally one can truly see what is going on at all times. It really helps to highlight cinematographer Sergio Salvati’s expert eye and use of color, as well.
You can watch the film in fantastic 5.1 surround sound, or with the original mono and Italian tracks in place. It almost feels more authentic watching it in Italian with subtitles, since the English is dubbed from start to finish anyway. There’s also the option to watch it with MacColl and Warbeck’s commentary, the same one found on Anchor Bay’s previous release.
In terms of repeat features, there’s also the on-set interview with Fulci from the AB disc, the “lost” German pre-credit sequence in color (the one in the actual film is sepia), the Necrophagia “music video” for “And you Will Live in Terror”, which was directed by Deadbeat at Dawn director Jim VanBebber, all of which were also in the AB tin. I put the words “music video” in quotes because, really, this is about the worst music and the most terribly done video I’ve ever seen. How it managed to survive this release is beyond me.
Finally, there’s the multi-part “Images From The Beyond”, a collection of interviews, stills, public appearances, and more from the people responsible for The Beyond. There’s a lot of good stuff here, even it only runs 16 minutes all told.
In terms of new feature for the Grindhouse edition, you have “Voices From The Beyond”, a collection of on-camera interviews done with everyone from Sergio Salvati to Fabio Frizzi to star Veronica Lazar, discussing their experiences with and opinions of Lucio Fulci. This is a great tribute to the man and his works, but also gives a perspective on the varied ways others viewed him that hasn’t been covered nearly enough.
Finally, there’s a brand-new intro from star Catriona MacColl shot in 2008 that you can play before the film. It’s pretty short but it’s nice to see Catriona still lending her support to the film. And as beautiful as ever!
If you’ve not picked up this new edition of The Beyond, I can’t imagine why. Now is the time. The film has never looked or sounded better and you won’t find this amount of special features celebrating The Beyond and the man who made it anywhere else.
4 out of 5
5 out of 5
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