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The Beyond - Blu-ray review
By James Whittington, Monday 13th January 2020
The Beyond
Shameless
Certificate 18

There are some movies that horror fans have multiple copies of, for me it's The Evil Dead, Halloween and Zombie Flesh Eaters. I have loads of editions in my loft on tape, laserdisc, DVDs, and now lovely Blu-rays and, where I can, 4K editions. Lucio Fulci's The Beyond (1981) is one movie that could also take up a shelf for all the different editions and versions I own as for some reason I'm drawn to it whenever I see a new release, even if it's just for a new cover!

This time around though Shameless have something rather cool and a bit different for fans of this Fulci classic but more on this later. For those new to this title, The Beyond is classed as the second movie in Lucio Fulci's Gates of Hell trilogy which is made up of City of the Living Dead (1980) and The House by the Cemetery (1981). For me, The Beyond is the strongest of the trio being a sublime mix of horror, gore and time-travel!

When jaded New Yorker (Catriona MacColl) inherits a New Orleans hotel, she calls on composed local doctor (David Warbeck) to contain the inexplicable and increasingly gory accidents that are plaguing the building and its grounds. But soon the Gates of Hell themselves open under the hotel, rendering their fight futile as the dead emerge to walk the earth.

Surreal and vivid, The Beyond is a prime example of Fulci at his creative best. The story gallops along, splattered by nightmarish images and brutal happenings. Eyes are plucked out, faces melted, zombie-like cadavers rise and the soundtrack contains overly loud effects that bolster the nightmarish and sometimes, inconsistent happenings. People become possessed, inexplicable "accidents" occur and a stranger with a dog holds the key to the secret of room 36.

Shot in tones which juxtapose throughout yet all return to the misty grey of the deranged painting seen in the prologue, this vivid feature is packed with scenes that show what a great director Fulci could be; the unforgettable spiders sequence, the meandering dead who slowly make their way through a hospital, the way the plot is designed to be circular and the score from Fabio Frizzi is one of his finest.

One of the key extras here is that you can view the prologue to the movie in four different colour hues; the accepted standard sepia, the original colour camera footage (restored from a new 2k scan), the B and W version (which is a clever reference to an 'infamous' mistake!) and a new fourth-way: presented as an homage to this cult-classic from Maestros Lucio Fulci and DOP Sergio Salvati, a new alternative version is proposed using for the first time the colour camera footage as the base on which toning is applied - with reference to Salvati's known thinking. This results in very vivid visuals where the reds of the gore are strikingly visible and the light from the torches and car headlights are much more luminous. All four are branched so you can watch the movie seamlessly enabling you to view and comparisons can be seen in the extras section of the disc.

Other new extras include an interview with Cinzia Monreale (with English subtitles), an interview with Michele Mirabella (with English subtitles) a unique interview with scriptwriter Giorgio Mariuzzo on working with Lucio Fulci (with English subtitles), Prologue four-way comparison showing the original colour, B and W, standard sepia and the new, fourth-way, a golden version of toning over colour.

The archive extras include Sergio Salvati (Director of Photography) feature-length audio commentary dissecting the film - with new English subtitles, a feature-length audio commentary from stars Catriona McCall and David Warbeck and Lucio Fulci speaks (short conversation on a film set).

The transfer itself is stunning and brings to life the gruesome effects which still pretty much stand up some forty years on. Fulci delivers close up upon close up of each gory moment. The soundtrack too is nice and sharp delivering the dull droning of the score to maximum effect.

Shameless have taken a classic and given it the five star release it deserves and will make any Fulci fan very, very happy, and me looking to buy more shelves.


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