Only managed to squeeze in one film today…ahhh, but it was worth it!
The Beyond (1981):
A woman inherits an old house, only to discover that it sits on top one of the gates of hell. iself. Slowly but surely, hell’s influence seeps through the gate and permeates itself into unlocking the gate further until finally, the dead begin to walk…
The opening shots showed me that I was in the capable hands of a horror-maestro (Lucio Fulci). Monochrome images, where the camera pans past a shadowy lake of people rowing towards an ominous motel. We then cut inside the motel itself. There is a painter who has managed to discover all 7 of the gates of hell. One of the men pushes him down and whips him: we see the skin pulled off, the tissue and the bone…and yes, the blood. He is then pushed against a wall, and has both arms attached to it via nails themselves. It is certain that Fulci knows how to direct violence, because when you see that nail go in, I certainly flinched with unease. But this isn’t gore for gore’s sake. This isn’t, like the previous films. This section explores and hits one of my innermost fears: the fear of pain itself. The Final was not disturbing because it didn’t exploit this, it instead focused on the body like mere mechanical parts which can be cut off, taken off or sawed into.
Later on, when a character discovers where the gates of hell are, lightning strikes, he falls off of his ladder. The devil is at work. Then suddenly, around five or six tarantulas appear out of nowhere, close-up shots exploit there presence. They crawl towards him slowly, and they move across his body towards his face with utmost care. The scene seems to last minutes, and it is utterly uncomfortable. Not because of the spiders. But because Fulci exploits the spiders to hit our fear of being trapped. The scene certainly pulls off a sense of utter chlaostrophobia.
Unfortunately the film falls flat on itself in the final third. The build up of the film is the best. The gates of hell are opened and the zombies are unleashed. Ironically act three (or as horror aficionados will call “The Final Bloodbath”) wasn’t particularly effective. Also, another fault with the film is that soundtrack. Which sounds like it comes out of a crappy 80s crime film or a crappy 80s porn film. Or a porn film about a detective trying to catch a criminal, I dunno.
Utterly uncomfortable watch, but flawed.