Catriona MacColl as Liza Merril
David Warbeck as Dr. John McCabe
Cinzia Monreale as Emily
By The Zombie Master, Lee Roberts
The Beyond is the second part of the “Seven Gates” trilogy that began with City of the Living Dead and ended with The House by the Cemetery. It is also arguably the best film that Lucio Fulci ever made. It has everything that a horror/haunted house/zombie/art film needs to succeed, but I am getting ahead of myself.
The Beyond starts out in Louisiana circa 1927. There is a gentleman that is staying in the “Seven Doors Hotel” and apparently he has irritated the locals. It seems that he is a warlock and he has cursed the hotel and the town and they do not like it so the townsfolk kill him. Oh yeah, did I mention that the hotels foundation sits on top of one of the Seven Gates of Hell?
Fast forward to 1981 and we find that our heroine, Liza Merril (Catriona MacColl) has inherited the “Seven Doors Hotel” and is in the process of fixing it up in hopes of reopening the hotel to the public. A couple of accidental deaths, a chance meeting with a blind woman (Cinzia Monreale) and the “Lovecraftian” strangeness of “The Book of Abel” puts a halt to any plans other than making any sense out of what is going on and how to escape it.
Where does one begin in describing The Beyond? Earlier I mentioned that it succeeded in bridging the gap between multiple genres so let’s start there. Horror films are supposed to bring fear, suspense and disgust to the forefront of the viewers’ emotional ledge and then slightly tap it in the back so that it descends into places that the viewer secretly wants to go. The Beyond takes this theory to the next logical step and, with the use of inventive special effects and a great soundtrack, goes further than any film had gone at the time. Haunted House films are supposed to terrify with the supernatural, unexplainable happenings and the “Seven Doors Hotel” is definitely haunted. Zombie films are the epitome of the “sick and twisted” mindset (I raise my lighter in homage) and this one has plenty of the undead lovelies running around.
Lucio Fulci had this to say about The Beyond, “My idea was to make an absolute film, with all the horrors of the world. It’s a plotless film, there’s no logic to it, just a succession of images.” There have been plenty of people who complain that The Beyond has no coherent plot but that was the idea. That is what makes it the perfect art film.
For any fan of Lucio Fulci, the culmination of everything that he wanted to do was made evident with the filming of The Beyond and it should be a mandatory piece in your movie collection.