director Lucio Fulci
So, I had given my birthday over to an impromptu movie marathon with a vague horror slant. No major themes, but I felt the need for at least one film to feature some outre gore. Who should one turn to in such situations? Lucio Fulci fits the bill better than many that I can think of.
Herschell Gordon Lewis might be the original “Godfather of Gore” but Fulci is entitled to some aspect of that crown. The last of his films that I’d watched, City of the Living Dead (1980) featured some of the most wonderfully gruesome of gore effects that I can even bring to mind. The Beyond is considered the second film of his “Gates of Hell” (unofficial) trilogy, of which City of the Living Dead was the first. So, yeah, it made sense.
Set in New Orleans, there is a hotel that was built on one of the “seven gates of hell” (location, location, location.) Unsurprisingly, some bad stuff went down and the place fell into disrepair until many years later it is inherited by a young woman who decides to invest if fixing it up. Of course, when you’re working on the foundations of a gate of hell, things tend to go gorily sideways pretty fast.
Like City of the Living Dead, the story is kind of hard to follow, possibly hard to parse. It’s all steeped in atmosphere and gore. Impaled eyeballs, acid eroding a body and the resultant putrescence, spiders ripping flesh, and a dog eviscerating its blind owner are a few of the many scenes that gouge the eyes and mind. And in the end, there are a lot of what I guess are zombies pouring out of the gate of hell.
Interestingly, it seems that the disjointedness of the narrative was intentional rather than a result of sloppiness or post-production nonsense. It’s hard to know reading the film through without that thought in mind. No anti-logic logic seems the permeate the film, and yet it holds together in a strange, hard to describe way. I guess that I am still constructing my sense of Lucio Fulci’s films. I think that this is one that I perhaps saw long ago but couldn’t recall in any real concrete way. Whether that was just me or whether that tends to say more about the film, I don’t know.