Friday, March 4, 2016

Obscure Italian Horror: The Beyond

Welcome back everyone for another helping of Obscure Italian Horror. Once again I am most annoyed as this is another Lucio Fulchi film, the second in the unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy and it really steams my clams when...I really have nothing to bitch and complain about. I simply refer to this trilogy as Messing with Actress Katherine MacColl. Because she was in all three movies as different characters and...I'm thinking you didn't need this review to be that meta. Yeah this flick is warped, demented and damn creepy so no complaints about special effects, acting or camera angles. This is The Beyond.

Hey buddy, this hand smell rotten to you?

So we have a mob off for a lynching and you know it's supposed to be a flashback because it is filmed in sepia filter. Also the villagers are dressed in later 1800s attire with pitchforks and honest to God torches. No one screamed, "Kill the monster!" so that was a bit disappointing. We get a voice over establishing there are seven gateways it seven cursed places...two of which I am guessing is in The City of the Living Dead and House by the Cemetery but that is also speculation. Our angry mob of 1927 does not heed the words of the warlock Schweick (Antoine Saint-John of Duck, You Sucker. My Name is Nobody, The Beyond, Ginger and Fred and Cross) that the hotel he lives at is built on one of the seven gates to damnation, Hell um take your pick and that his unnatural death may bring about destruction, brimstone and the dead rising from the grave. Pretty heavy stuff to consider, right? Eh, screw it. Let's kill him anyway.

Cut to 1981 as we go on a road trip with Liza (Katherine MacColl of City of the Living Dead, House By the Cemetery, Man Eaters, Afraid of the Dark and Mafiosa), a plucky gal all the way from New York City (NEW YORK CITY??!!!) who has inhereted the hotel and decides to turn it into a charming bed and breakfast. I can't fault her there, it is a lovely house with spacious windows, good hardwood floors and a charming atmosphere...that may open a portal to Hell.

Well, beats playing an organ and staring at Utah...(Carnival of Souls reference)

No sooner does Liza get some work done on the house, one of the painters plummets off a scaffolding causing him to spit up fake blood. Seriously though, he was less than 30 feet up and landed on his back, hitting no rocks or piping so not sure what happened. Dr. McCabe (David Warbeck of Trog, Journey to Murder, Twins of Evil, Duck, You Sucker, Sex Thief and Sudden Fury) has painter move as he mumbled something about her eyes.

Liza actually got a plumber name of Joe (Giovanni De Nava of The Beyond, The House by the Cemetery, Murder-Rock:Dancing Death and Un foro nel parabrezza)on time to deal with the flooding and strange happenings when a evil hand pops out of the dirt and gouges his eye out. The creeper maid discovers Joe's body and everyone views it as an accidental death. Even his poor wife and kid viewing his body in the morgue think so..until his wife is treated to an hydrochloric acid facial and his daughter attacked by zombies. The police seem to think there may be a pattern to this violence and bug the crap out of Liza. Typical small-town lazy cop gotta blame the newcomer to these here parts. Liza meets a blind woman with the funkiest contacts, Emily (Cinzia Monreale of Beyond the Darkness, Flatfoot on the Nile, The Beyond, The Sweet House of Horrors, Madre come te and Dark Signal) who tells her to never re-open the hotel, how Schwieck died and very cryptic on the whole Gate of Hell aspect. Personally that would be the opening argument, followed by detailed charts, graphs and testimony of spirits. Ignoring Emily's warnings, Liza investigates Schwieck's room and discovers an ancient book right out of Lovecraft, The Book of Eibon (Tales of the demented wizard claiming he plane walked other worlds, met his deity Zhothaqquah and other such crazy.), also Schwieck's nailed corpse is on the neighboring wall. She is calmed by John, who appears for whatever reason and she takes him upstairs only to find the book and Schwieck to not be there. Will the gate open? Will more have to die for the Devil's B &B?

Shot in Lazio Italy the location scouts stateside got that huge two lane stretch bridge in Lake Charles Louisiana shot about 5 in the evening giving an eerie appearance. The hotel was actually the Otis House in Madisonville, LA and it is clearly a house of the latter 1800's with gorgous staircase, double pane glass and some of the finer oak floors. Yeah I like older houses. They have character.

Deemed a Video Nasty in the day, there are about 3 different cuts to this movie. The original runs at 87 minutes but its audio is in mono, the R-rated version is 80 mins and the 82 minute version is Dolby sound but has several key scene removed because it would scare the panties off the Americans...or some such. Bottom line, get the 87 min version and just tune your stereo quad to 5.1 and you will enjoy the creepy score and hear all the screams you want. That being said, the spoilers are eye gouging and spiders crawling across bodies. Hey, I don't want you folks watching it and having an issue I didn't warn you. It's suspenseful, odd, dark and beautifully shot.

Geez, these frat initiations are rough!