Widely considered Lucio Fulcio’s masterwork, “The Beyond” is a surrealistic nightmare set against the backdrop of gothic New Orleans, perched atop one of the seven gates of Hell.
The story is simple enough. A young woman inherits an old hotel with a dark history. Two generations ago, a surrealistic artist was murdered by the townsfolk who thought him a warlock. His death opened one of the seven doors to Hell. Now, the renovations have energized that portal and loosed Hell upon Earth in the form of the living dead and psychic horror.
The movie can be hard to follow at points. Fulci originally envisioned a completely non-linear story, using the hotel as an arc for the stories. Although it was rewritten into a more straightforward story, the surrealistic nightmare quality of the work shows through. This is a film that you need to sit and watch, if you’re going to understand what’s going on. Fulci shows his skill in building the tension throughout, despite the disjointed nature of the narrative. Even as you’re trying to figure out what’s going on and where it’s all heading, you know it’s bad and it’s only going to get worse. The nihilistic ending is one of the great movie endings ever.
Originally released in the States as “Seven Doors of Death”, “The Beyond” is a rawer, less edited version with a better score. The gore isn’t a whole lot different between the two, but “The Beyond” is the better film – if you’re going to check it out, definitely go with the original.