Liza (Catriona MacColl) inherits an old hotel in New Orleans, but it comes with two creepy servants and a partially opened gateway to hell. There’s nothing anyone can do about the gateway being flung wide by seven mysterious and grisly deaths, even though Liza is warned by a ghost/zombie woman to leave the hotel. She won’t leave because she has nowhere else to go and the hotel is supposed to save her from financial ruin. So along with her new friend John (David Warbeck), the doctor who comes to take away the body of the second murdered guy/door, Liza just has to ride it out. And what a ride!
Arguably Fulci’s best movie, and the namesake of this blog (Seven Doors of Death is an alternate title), The Beyond does the Italian horror thing where it asks more questions than it answers, but it’s not total nonsense. It makes a lot of sense by the second time you watch it, it’s just that you have to fill in the blanks. There are only two things I’d really like to know: what was the purpose of the original plans of the hotel that vanished after the architect was eaten by tarantulas, and what was up with the brainwave research Al Cliver’s character was doing on corpses at the hospital? Of course it doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that Fulci was working out his personal issues with tragedy, illness, and state-sponsored religion, and this is the most successfully symbolic of the three movies he is most known for: City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, and House by the Cemetery. It’s more of a visual tone poem than a movie.
We almost always watch The Beyond with the commentary by stars MacColl and Warbeck running. It’s lovely to know that both Fulci, who died in 1996, and Warbeck, who died a couple of weeks after the commentary was recorded in ’97, knew how much they were appreciated by horror fans worldwide. And Warbeck was such a funny guy that it’s almost like watching a Rifftrax of the film.
P.S. Did anyone else think the death by German shepherd in The Beyond was a nod to a similar scene in Suspiria?
P.P.S. Never forget that if you’re in a movie and you inherit property from a relative you’re never heard of, you’re going to die. Unless you’re in the Hallmark movie All of My Heart, in which case you’re not going to die but you are going ON a diet of delicious baked goods.