31 Days, Day 13: Luke Ventures into THE BEYOND
Eyeball stuff gets me every time.
Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond features no less than three cases of eye gouging. It features a couple face meltings, dog attacks, and a scene involving a pack of flesh eating spiders literally tearing a man’s face apart.
The Beyond needs to be seen to be believed.
There isn’t much in the way of a coherent plot here. A woman inherits a decrepit hotel in New Orleans, where 60 years ago, a man was brutally murdered by a mob who believed him to be a warlock. Accidents start happening as the hotel is restored. People start dying in horribly grizzly ways. There’s something about a book. And the fact comes out that the hotel was built on one of the seven gates of hell. Zombies eventually show up. People go blind. All of that is irrelevant. Fulci deals with horror as an abstraction. The senseless, incoherent plot is merely an excuse to set up incredible set-pieces of baroque violence, and absurdist gore. The inventive practical effects hold up to this day, outrageous, and at the same time, beautiful and disgusting.
The campy, non-performances are atrocious. Not so much in a so-bad-it’s-good, laugh-at-it kind of way. More in a strange, inhuman way that is a little unnerving. These are not characters so much as they are cogs in a clockwork of mayhem and gore. Their fates have already been preordained, and we the audience can do nothing but watch and squirm in our seats.
Fulci goes over the top from the beginning, and continues to outdo himself with every elaborate death, building up to a zombie outbreak in a hospital, and an inspired ending.
Appreciate The Beyond as high camp. Appreciate it as vulgar gore fest. Appreciate it as inspired lunacy. Appreciate its beautifully stylized images. But it demands your appreciation, and on its own terms.
The Beyond is currently streaming on Shudder, and is available to rent on Google Play, and Amazon.