The Beyond Review (1981)

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Beyond Review (1981)

Horrorific content by adrian on April 29th, 2018 | Movie Review | Cult Classic, Demon, Hell, Gore, Zombie

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It’s about a woman who inherits an old derelict hotel in Louisiana, which happens to have one of the seven gates of hell hiding out in the basement.

The Beyond was directed by Lucio Fulci (who also directed Demonia and Cat in the Brain) and stars Catriona Maccoll, David Warbeck and Cinzia Monreale.

The seven dreaded gateways to Hell are concealed in seven cursed places. And from the day the gates of Hell are opened, the dead will walk the earth.

The Beyond Review

The Beyond had been on my radar for a couple of months prior to finally sitting down for it. I had no real reason to want to watch it other than the cover grabbed my eye and because it’s set in Louisiana. I really like the southern gothic atmosphere of the bayou and it makes for an amazing setting for horrors. Some great examples of movies that utilize this bayou vibe well are The Skeleton Key, Hatchet, Interview with the Vampire and Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh. Horror movies set in Louisiana have so many unique details to contribute to the overall tone of a film including French Colonial architecture, historic cemeteries and of course the voodoo, hoodoo and subculture of black magic.

But the detail that really works with horror is a subtle one. Sweat.

Louisiana is hot and humid and full of swamps. You can see this in the beads of sweat that are on all the cast members in most scenes. It makes them look uncomfortable and sometimes nervous. It really helps to drive home suspense.

So, other than a cool poster and the whole Louisiana thing, I had no real idea what this movie was about going in. Turns out it’s an epic, gory, supernatural cult classic that is now part of my permanent collection.

The cinematography is incredible, the use of lighting and especially shadows create such a dark atmosphere. The bulk of the movie takes place in an old abandoned hotel and it’s shot so well I felt like I could smell the dust and feel the cobwebs as Katherine, our protagonist, hesitantly made her way around the place. The score really contributed to the tense atmosphere this movie is steeped in and the sound effects, although a little distracting at times, were creative and added to the intensity. Of course, there were a few scenes where the music suddenly became strangely upbeat, more on that in a bit.

Katherine, the woman from New York who inherited this death trap, is a very likable character. Catriona MacColl really nailed her role. You can really empathize with her predicament. This hotel was her last real shot at making something of her life and it turns out to have nothing but baggage. And the baggage isn’t only the gateway to hell in her basement. It also comes in the form of two caretakers that came with the place. They’re dark and untrustworthy types that she struggles to manage while attempting to restore the place and dealing with her workers dropping like flies. I really got sucked into her story and the madness she has to endure.

Oh, and then there’s the GORE. I was not braced for the crazy in-your-face splatter fest this movie turned out to be. It’s not realistic gore, the practical effects were definitely 80’s b-movie level, but that’s actually what made it fun. The Beyond with today’s CGI would have been nauseating. I won’t spoil anything, but trust me, if you like ridiculous 80’s gore this movie delivers!

And this leads us back to the strangely upbeat music. You’re pulled into this dark atmosphere, feeling the dread, someone starts getting shockingly mutilated… and then some weird happy 70’s music kicks in, as if what you’re watching is supposed to be happy and light. It’s all very confusing. Well, it turns out this weird happy music was re-edited in as a way to tone down the emphasis on the gore, which was just too much for some people back in the early 80’s. It was meant to lessen the shock value as a means to get the movie distributed. The Beyond was even added to the infamous Video Nasties list shortly after it’s release. Keep this in mind if you decide to sit down to watch this one, I find knowing the reason behind the unexpected music switch actually makes the movie funner, it’s a reminder that you’re watching something that really blew some minds back in the days.

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