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.
The DVD features chatty but largely jokey commentary by David Warbeck and Catriona MacColl and an alternate German credits sequence featuring Fulci's preferred sepia-tinged prologue (but no alternate footage). --Sean Axmaker
From the Contributor
From beloved Italian "Godfather of Gore" Lucio Fulci (ZOMBIE, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, CAT IN THE BRAIN)