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The Beyond

Italian theatrical poster
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Produced by Fabrizio De Angelis
Written by Story:
Dardano Sacchetti
Screenplay:
Giorgio Mariuzzo
Lucio Fulci
Dardano Sacchetti
Starring Catriona MacColl
David Warbeck
Cinzia Monreale
Antoine Saint-John
Veronica Lazar
Anthony Flees
Giovanni De Nava
Al Cliver
Michele Mirabella
Gianpaolo Saccarola
Maria Pia Marsala
Laura De Marchi
Music by Fabio Frizzi
Cinematography Sergio Salvati
Editing by Vincenzo Tomassi
Distributed by Grindhouse Releasing
Release date(s) Italy April 29, 1981
Running time 87 min.
Language Italian, English

The Beyond (Italian: ...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà, also known as Seven Doors of Death) is a 1981 Italian horror movie directed by Lucio Fulci. It is considered by some horror film fans to be one of the best movies made by the Italian director[1]. The second film in Fulci's unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy (along with City of the Living Dead and The House by the Cemetery), The Beyond has gained a cult following over the decades, in part because of the film's gore-filled murder sequences, which had been heavily censored when the film was originally released in the United States in 1983.

Contents

Background

Following the release of City of the Living Dead, Fulci decided to continue that film's exploration of metaphysical concepts — in particular, the ways in which the realms of both the living and the dead might bleed into each other. Fulci also wanted to do a film that would pay homage to his idol, the French playwright Antonin Artaud. Artaud, a sometime member of the early 20th Century Surrealist movement, envisioned theatre being less about linear plot and more about "cruel" imagery and symbolism that could shock its audience into action.

Thus, Fulci's original outline for The Beyond was of a non-linear haunted house story with the only solid plot element being that of a woman moving into a hotel built on one of the seven gates of hell (another such gate is depicted in City of the Living Dead). This original story focused on the dead leaving hell and entering the hotel with little outside of the ensuing carnage to link the scenes together.

However, the German distribution company that owned the release rights to Fulci's films at the time were not interested in a haunted house story. Zombie movies were still popular at the time in Europe and Fulci's backers wanted something similar to his previous zombie films. Fulci agreed to rewrite his film, adding zombies and completely rewriting the film's final act to include a shoot-out between the main characters and a zombie horde at a local hospital. Despite these revisions, the final product is considered by many fans to be one of Fulci's best films and has even been praised for its oneiric incoherence.[2]

Plot

In 1927, Louisiana's Seven Doors Hotel is the scene of a vicious murder as a lynch mob crucifies and pours quicklime upon an artist named Schweick, whom they believe to be a warlock. The artist's murder opens one of the seven doors of death, which exist throughout the world and allow the dead to cross into the world of the living. Several decades later, a young woman from New York inherits the hotel and plans to re-open it for business. But her renovation work activates the hell-portal, and soon she and a local doctor find themselves having to deal with living dead, a ghost of a blind girl who seeks to get them to leave the house, a mystic tome called the Book of Eibon that supposedly contains the answers to the nightmare at hand, face-eating tarantulas, a young girl whose murdered parents become zombies and is herself possessed by undead spirits — and Schweick, who has returned as a malevolent, indestructible corpse, apparently in control of the supernatural forces.

All hope is lost by the end, as the hero and heroine find themselves transported impossibly from a hospital stairway back to the hotel's basement. They enter a wasteland that Schweick was seen painting at the beginning of the film. After wandering around amidst fog and lifeless mummified bodies, the two go blind and fade into oblivion.

Release history

Though it was released in Europe in 1981, The Beyond did not see a US release until 1983. The film was released to theatres for a brief theatrical run under the name Seven Doors of Death. Besides changing the name of the film, the film was heavily edited to tone down the film's graphic murder sequences and a brand new musical score was inserted into the film. This version was quickly released on video and remained in circulation during the 1980s in two separate releases.

Despite its heavy editing, the film gained a cult following over the years and bootleg tapes of the uncut version of The Beyond (produced from an uncensored Japanese Laserdisc of the film) widely circulated among horror fans. As years went on, demand for an official uncensored release of The Beyond grew considerably, especially as the VHS copies of Seven Doors of Death went out of print and became next to impossible to find.

In 1998 Quentin Tarantino acquired the US distribution rights to The Beyond from Bob Murawski and Sage Stallone of Grindhouse Releasing who had personally gone to Italy and met with director Lucio Fulci (and subsequently with his daughter) in order to distribute the film. Murawski and Stallone had completely digitally remastered and produced the DVD, uncut and completely uncensored, and meticulously currated all the numerous bonus materials. In order to receive a wider audience, Tarantino lent his name to the finished DVD and it was re-released through a division of Tarantino's Rolling Thunder Production Company and Miramax Films. The film played throughout the US as a midnight movie feature and earned Miramax Films a respectable one million dollars during its re-release, despite receiving mixed reviews from a few film critics.

The film made it at #60 on Bravo Television's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

Themes

According to Fulci, the ending of The Beyond is not a happy ending but at the same time not an unhappy one. The other-dimensional realm that the main characters find themselves trapped in at the end is, according to Fulci, a refuge of sorts that exists outside of time and space. Some fans, citing the fact that Fulci was a known atheist, have taken the notion that the realm is the afterworld seen through the eyes of an atheist. Others have taken the notion that the realm is a sort of purgatory for souls, with the presence of the blind girl as evidence of it.

DVD releases

On October 10, 2000, Anchor Bay Entertainment released The Beyond on DVD in both a limited edition tin-box set, and a standard DVD. There were only 20,000 limited edition sets released for purchase, and were discontinued after. The limited edition set was packaged in a tin box with alternate cover artwork, including an informative booklet on the film's production as well as various miniature poster replications. Soon after the limited edition set went out of production, Anchor Bay's standard DVD did as well. The film was unavailable for home video purchase until it was given another DVD release on October 28, 2008 through Grindhouse Releasing[3].

References

  1. ^ Danel Griffin, essay on The Beyond Film as Art: University of Alaska Southeast
  2. ^ The Top Ten Devil-Themed Horror Films for Christmas!
  3. ^ Amazon.com - The Beyond DVD 28 Oct. 2008

Thrower, Stephen. Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci, Fab Press, 2002. ISBN 0-9529260-6-7

External links








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