The Beyond (1981) by Lucio Fulci has it all. Eye gouging, dog attacks, eye biting, spider attacks, eye poking. Did I mention there’s a lot of eye stuff? Prepare yourself for the gates of hell! (and a lot of blind folks)…..
Likely spoilers ahead, so be warned.
Down in good old 1920’s Louisiana, a suspected warlock is killed by an angry mob in the basement of the Seven Doors Hotel. Killed is putting it mildly. Partially melted would probably be more accurate, which I suppose probably did kill him.
Flash forward a bunch of decades. A big city lady by the name of Liza inherits the hotel of the damned. Liza has some big plans for the abandoned building, nothing nefarious. A bit of paint and some light renovating wasn’t going to do the job though. They needed an Extreme Home Makeover: Father Merrin Edition. Unfortunately, there was a flooded basement. So they send in one of the original Plumber Joes. Then it happens….
Joe’s body and another are found by the maid Martha. Bodies are toted of to hospital, and Liza gets a stern warning about reopening the hotel from a blind woman named Emily. Here she is now!
If you don’t heed the warning of this woman after your plumber was just killed horrifically in your basement, well you pretty much deserve whatever’s coming for you. Boy howdy, is there plenty coming for Liza too.
Joe’s wife and kiddo head to the hospital to claim his body. There’s some pretty supernatural shit afoot at this point. The wife and child are separated, and wifey poo takes a forced nap. On the floor of the morgue. Under a flask of acid. Things don’t end well there. Of course the daughter comes back in time to be chased around the morgue by her mother’s blood.
Liza meets up with the good Doctor John at the funeral of all the above victims. Oh, did I mention Emily comes back to warn Liza again? Yeah, this time she tells her the story of the warlock that was fondued in the basement of her hotel. Emily also warns her about room 36. Then Emily touches a painting and starts bleeding, then runs the hell out of there. Very not good. Heeding all the warnings with the clarity of a frat boy after a week long cocaine bender, Liza heads to room 36.
Liza spots an ancient book called Eibon. A wonderful nod to Lovecraft there. In the bathroom? Hey it’s the warlock we’ve all heard so much about! Things go from weird to surreal at this point. There’s a lot of sanity questioning, and Liza’s friend Martin goes to find blueprints of the hotel at the library. Shaboom!
Tarantulas biting eyes out!
Poor Martin. Carrying on. Maid Martha is cleaning the bathroom in room 36. Nothing to worry about there though…
I totally lied. Large nail pops an eye out from the backside! If that’s not bad enough, the zombies start invading. Emily’s house, the hospital, no one is safe. Liza and Doctor John start running all over the place trying to escape the recently deceased. They wind up back in the basement of the hotel, at this point there’s really no escaping the portal to hell. The ending is about as bleak and drab as it gets. Not bad, but hopeless for our “heroes”.
What a ride! Art house, exploitation, call it what you will. For it’s time and vision, it was truly a brilliant film. If you’ve never seen it, make some time for it. There really isn’t anything quite like this experimental era of films being made anymore. And of all the directors working during this period, Lucio Fulci was a giant among them.
Thanks for reading, and a special thanks to Shudder for keeping films like The Beyond alive!