Film: The Beyond

Making the Hellmouth a place of fear and terror long before Buffy the Vampire Slayer came along

E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilą , known in English as The Beyond or Seven Doors of Death is a 1981 surrealist exploitation horror film directed by Lucio Fulci, loosely based on the works of HP Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith.

Set in Louisiana, the film opens in 1927 with a painter named Schweick painting a vision of Hell in the basement of the Seven Doors Hotel when a lynch mob breaks in and murders him with quicklime, believing him to be a warlock. Shifting to the "present day", a young woman from New York named Liza Merril (Catriona Maccoll) has inherited the hotel and is renovating it. The activities of the contractors open the Gate of Hell the hotel is built over. Mysterious deaths and incidents ensue, with Liza and a local doctor encountering a mysterious blind girl who wants them to leave the hotel, a mystic tome called the Book of Eibon that supposedly contains the answers to the nightmare at hand, face eating tarantulas, Schweick's ghoul, and eventually the rising dead. It ends with the two passing into the afterlife, which is depicted as a blank gray wasteland littered with corpses.

The film is one of four films by Lucio Fulci involving zombies, and the second film in his unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy (the others being City of the Living Dead and The House by the Cemetery). The plot is quite muddled and incoherent, with little explanation offered for anything at the end. Fulci said himself that he did not intend for it to be coherent; it was merely supposed to be a succession of surrealist images.

Though he originally intended it to be a Haunted House film, executives insisted he add zombies to make it more profitable due to zombie movies being the rage at the time. The film has since became a cult classic for its surrealist imagery, the Gorn that got it on Britain's infamous Video Nasties list, and for its amateurish special effects.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The Blackest Heart Media graphic novel, released in 1999 expands upon the backstories of the characters. In particular, Plumber Joe is a child molester who was also carrying on an affair with Martha. Also, Liza's backstory is explained as well.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: There's a sign saying "DO NOT ENTRY."
  • Eye Scream: The film features two eye gouging scenes, first done by hand coming from a hole on a wall.
  • Gainax Ending: Where exactly the two remaining survivors end up in is hard to say.
  • Gorn: It's what's in front of the camera when Lucio Fulci's behind the camera.
  • Hell Gate: One is accidentally opened, causing the house to slowly become cursed.
  • Lovecraft on Film: Actually, Clark Ashton Smith on Film.
  • The Nothing After Death: Fulci said the corpse-laden gray wasteland might be how the afterlife would appear to an atheist.
  • Spiders Are Scary: A bunch of demonic tarantulas appear out of nowhere and proceed to eat an unconscious man's face.