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review added: 10/16/00



The Beyond
Limited Edition - 1981 (2000) - Grindhouse Releasing (Anchor Bay)

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Beyond: Limited Edition Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A+

Specs and Features

89 mins, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, dual-layered (extra layer for supplemental material), audio commentary (with stars David Warbeck and Catriona MacColl), Images from The Beyond (gallery of supplemental material including an interview with Fulci on location with Demonia, an interview with Warbeck and MacColl at a convention, production photographs, ad materials, behind-the-scenes photos, merchandising, David Warbeck giving a speech at a convention and Warbeck and Fulci at a junket for Eurofest ’94), Easter eggs (including video trailer of Cat in the Brain directed by Fulci and credits for alternate version of 7 Doors of Death), trailers (U.S., International and German), restored German color pre-credit sequence with optional German or English soundtracks, video for And You Will Live in Terror by Necrophagia directed by Jim Van Bebber, essay by noted gore-hound Chas. Balun under jacket art, animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (53 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1, 2.0 & mono) and Italian (DD mono), subtitles: English

Lucio Fulci was a God among rip-off artists. He could take any pre-existing film, reshoot it and come up with something so wholly original that it would almost shine brighter than the film he copied. And when he came up with an original idea... boy, it was a dozy. Here stands The Beyond. My friends, it’s a cinematic trip worth taking.

What is it about? Well, cram bloated ghouls (dripping all sorts of fluid), exploding body parts and every possible variation of eye violence you can think of into a haunted house/gates of Hell storyline, and you have only a sliver of the joy harnessed in this film. If you don’t look too deep into the plot, you’ll come away having enjoyed one of the premier gross-out flicks of all-time. And that’s not an understatement. I personally pushed the envelope while watching this one - I ate a steak, mashed potato and green-bean lunch as I watched this film. And if I were a lesser, inexperienced gore-hound, I would have lost it all.

The plot is simple. It’s 1927 New Orleans. An angry mob busts into a hotel, runs up to room 36 and drags a painter kicking and screaming into the basement. There, they proceed to beat him with chains, crucify him and then pour acid soaked plaster on his face, leaving him there to die. Why? Well, flash forward to 1981. We watch as Liza, a former New Yorker, inherits the hotel we just watched get mobbed with plans of remodeling it. Suddenly, weird occurrences begin to pop up, with people dying in macabre ways, and an undead army starts to check in. As she pieces together all the clues, with the help of a doctor and a blind girl/ghost, she starts to uncover a powerful secret in her basement - a secret she won’t be able to cover up for much longer.

Granted, the plot sounds much better on paper than it does on the screen. But believe me, it’s a creepy flick - one that if you haven’t seen yet, will make the perfect end piece for your Halloween viewing schedule. Run out and get it now. I’ll give you a few reasons to do so. The film is presented in a new widescreen anamorphic transfer and it looks just great, especially for an Anchor Bay title. Actually, this is a co-production with the Bay and Grindhouse Releasing - the fine folks who gave us the Umberto Lenzi epic Cannibal Ferox (aka Make Them Die Slowly). A lot of time and love went into this production and it shows. The picture quality perfectly captures the film in all its glory. The transfer is clean, crisp and shows all the right grain in all the right places. The image seems a bit cropped compared to the Japanese laserdisc that came out a few years ago, but it still looks perfectly fine and I only mention that for the film purists out there. Speaking of purists, the sound presentation includes both the Italian and English mono tracks along with new Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks. All of them sound really, really good. I have a preference for the new DD 5.1, which sounds surprisingly full and agilely plays around with all the channels, giving an even spookier environment to the film.

But the fun doesn’t stop there, no siree Bob. Along with the fine presentation of the film, we get a stack of extras (some big, some small and all worth checking out by fans of horror, gore and Fulci). First up, you get a very friendly and awfully nice to listen to commentary track, featuring stars Catriona MacColl and David Warbeck and recorded before Warbeck passed away. It’s nice to hear these two talk about the film, what it means to them and what it was like shooting it (especially since Warbeck is no longer with us). Next up is a virtual art gallery of photos, past edition video art, merchandising, posters, convention interviews and assorted other nasties pertaining to the film, all collected under the moniker Images from The Beyond. It’s a very nice collection of stuff and it’s great to find it all in one area with chapters linking the different subjects. There’s also a collection of trailers, a music video edited by Jim Van Bebber (featuring the band Necrophagia in concert juxtaposed with footage from The Beyond, which is very cool, I must say), the color pre-credit sequence from the German print (so you can see the horrifying opening sequence in blood red color - the sequence in the film is B&W) and a few Easter eggs scattered here and there. Just look for the sign of the seven gates and you’re in. I found three, but one wouldn’t open so it’s either a dead door or you have to open them in some sort of order. I’ve got time on my hands, but not that much. If you find out how to open it, let me know. It’s the one on the second page of extras.

It’s pretty exciting to have this film, which I was once actually forbidden from ever seeing, on DVD. Now that I’m all grown up and can appreciate The Beyond, it’s that much more special (especially now that I can let go of my old Japanese LD). Halloween is going to be very, very fun this year. Definitely check this disc out.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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