Monday, July 4, 2011

Horror Film Review

The Beyond (1981):  This one's gonna take some 'splaining.  First off...zombie flick!  Well, eventually.  The last 20 minutes or so.  Before that?  Try this on for size:  it's an Italian horror film set in Louisiana where all the actors speak English.  At least there's no subtitles or dubbing to deal with.

It starts with a flashback to the 20's.  An angry mob barges into a hotel.  They accuse a guy, Schweick (Antoine Saint-John), of being a warlock, drag him to the basement, and kill him in an interesting way.  They nail him to a wall and then throw what I think is lye on him.  Could've been acid, but either way, we get a close up of his face dissolving.  You see the Italian pedigree immediately with the gore.  They don't screw around.  In the room across from dissolved warlock dude, a woman finds a old book (think necronomicon) and is reading when it bursts into flames.  You see, the hotel was built over one of seven portals to hell.  I think the warlock was there to keep the portal closed.  Ever notice that angry mobs aren't the brightest of folks?

Now it's 1981 and Liza (Katherine MacColl) has inherited the hotel.  She's trying to fix it up, but some deadly accidents keep slowing her down.  Joe the plumber (Giovanni De Nava) meets with a decidedly gruesome end.  Liza then meets a spooky blind woman named Emily (Sarah Keller) who bears a striking resemblance to book-fire lady.  Emily tells Liza to stop the renovations and leave.  Liza doesn't, of course, and then things get weird.  An inordinate amount of time is spent in a hospital's morgue where Liza hooks up with Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck), a skeptic who tells her Emily doesn't exist and that all the strange doings can be explained away.  He changes his tune when the zombies start chasing them.  They flee to the hospital's basement only to find themselves in the basement of the hotel (don't ask me because I don't know and they don't explain it).  Why they think it's a good idea to crawl through a small, glowing doorway is a mystery.  Take a wild guess as to where they end up. 

The Beyond is an amalgamation of horror genres:  haunted house, demons from hell, and zombies.  It works for the most part, except when it doesn't.  They gloss over the inconsistencies and plot holes with gore, not that that's a bad thing, mind you.  A few items of interest -  The shot where the little girl's head explodes is excellent (it's ok...she was evil).  The filmmakers have a thing with eyes...they like seeing them pop out in a variety of unique, if not awful, ways.  And you will scream at the screen when that idiot doctor is shooting at the zombies because it's obvious body shots do nothing, only head shot put them down, so what does he do?  He keeps shooting them in the chest!  Freakin' moron.  Although one of the good guys, I really wanted him dead for sheer stupidity. 

The Breakdown

Acting:  Hammy and campy and not very good...unless it's a B-horror flick, like this is, then it's kinda expected and not too distracting.
Story:  I was surprised there weren't vampires and werewolves and mummies.  They crammed every other horror conceit into the plot. 
Direction:  Um...scatter-shot is the best word for director Lucio Fulci's style.  More than once I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on.  Not what you'd call a smooth narrative delivery.
Production Values:  Keep in mind it's 1981, and the film quality reminds you of this.  Otherwise, the sets and such look properly Hollywoody. 
Gore/FX:  There's not a lot of blood (except when they crucify the warlock) but the gore is prolific and quite graphic. 
Scares:  There are a few jolts that may or may not get you jumping. 
The Ending:  Another Twilight Zone-ish ending.  Not completely unexpected, but in my opinion, totally unsatisfying. 
The Verdict:  Should you see The Beyond?  Italian and B-movie horror fans will want to.  For casual horror fans...go watch Night of the Demons again.

My Rating2 out of 5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment