Saturday, March 30, 2013

Crankenstein's fuzzy memories of The Beyond

   This review is gonna be alittle different this time, since this film is so overly analyzed and reviewed I felt that I should make it more personal in a way that represents the pre-internet world. 
Seven Doors Of Death/ The Beyond (1981).
   It all happened in the most unlikely of places at BlockBuster Video! That rotting skull with the Creepshow style graphic called to me, it drew me in like a moth to a bugzapper and I had to rent it, but could not watch it alone, no way in hell that would happen! This was my second exposure to director Lewis Fuller, the first was Zombie at the tender "not mentally equipped yet" age of 9, secretly at a friends house in Long Island NY.
   Wait a second, Who? Let me pause for a minute!! 
This was the mid 80's and my only source for underground horror was Chas Balun by way of letters and packages and only he alone could answer this question about Mr. Fuller! Chas sent me an orange Zombie Holocaust postcard a few weeks later, because there was no internet, it didn't exist yet! I was stuck in Florida where only I and four other kids in middle school had any knowledge of rare gore trivia to turn too and none of these lunkheads knew the answer! So in retrospect (or future-tense) it seems "Hey look it up on Google dummy!" As I said before, no internet, no easy way to get this answer and I must retort, "No Fucking Google, Assclown!"

Pre-Google Technology

   Back to my big box review of 7 Doors Of Death!  Which was the only version of The Beyond available in my town! The edited version is not much compared to the supreme artform that is The Beyond or it's score for that matter. Walter Sear handles the reins of 7 Doors and came up with some yawn inducing borish sounds, completely removing the original score (some of it is still left I believe, its been awhile). Fabio Frizzi's brilliant original score of melancholy with stabs of electronic psychedelic freakout, living nightmare sounds makes you never want to hear that "other score" ever again. To his credit though I prefer the Walter Sear music for Dr. Butcher over Nico Fidenco's lazy one in Zombie Holocaust! 

   As far as bootleg tapes ordered from Chas Balun go, this is my third one (The first being Bad Taste then Meet The Feebles). The only way for me to find a copy of the full uncut version of The Beyond was through this underground tape trading system and so I paid my 20 bucks and awaited the videoshaped cardboard box that contained a grainy dupe with Japanese Subs. The Beyond would infect my subconcious for years to come and there's just no contest between 7 Doors and the orignal Fulci version! 7 Doors might as well be a big box doorstop (I still love that E.C. Comics style artwork though)! 
   The only version I could get at the time, a grainy dubbed from a laserdisc copy with awkwardly skewed subtitles won over my heart! The tape also had some choice trailers included (Boys From Brazil, The Ladies Club and Rage Of Honor). 
   So what are some key that knocked my brain for a loop? 
First off, that acid bath, chain whipping scene with the accused warlock: Schweick lasts under a few minutes in 7 Doors and in The Beyond methodically gruels on for a long time. I mean the grisley carnage keeps dripping and melting in suspended animation, until I almost wanted to look away, but couldn't, as that face bubbled and frothed!
   Another key scene in my memory that made me think, Ok! I've seen waay too much, but Dammit, let me see more! Like Dr. Edward Pretorious in From Beyond "I had to see more, more than any man has ever seen!"

   Emily the blind clairvoyant's seeing eye dog gnaws through her neck like a pile of shredded meat and blood shoots out like a faucet (c/o of Giannetto DeRossi's SPFX). In the other version it abruptly cuts off and comes off as laughable, but the viciousness in The Beyond is clearer. The uncut version kills the funny scenario of a seeing eye dog feasting on its blind owner! 
   The combination of witches,supernatural zombies and face eating spiders, takes The Beyond to the level of must see horror and its great to see it finally get recognition from critics the world over!
   It took a long time though and I find it hilarious that critics like Roger Ebert have to scratch their heads and try and figure out what people see in this garbage or Fulci at all! Those critics have to evolve with the rest of the world and now that exploitation films are taken more seriously as an overlooked artform, they are forced to acknowledge that aspect.
   The are so many theories as to what Fulci intended in the messages of The Beyond one of my favorites is that it's an atheist (Fulci's) view of purgatory, here's a really thought provoking commentary on Fulci's career LINK.
   If the film were unabashed garbage, would arthouse critics take it seriously? I doubt it, would they even try to piece together the metaphorical significance at all? Not likely! 
  I think Sage Stallone and Grindhouse Releasing deserve high praise for taking these forgotten masterpieces and bringing them to the forefront of mainstream audiences (I almost saw a screening in Miami, but I had no one to go with or a working car for that matter!) 
   Rotten Cotton and Blackest Heart Media also have championed the Fulci name and gotten the message out there in the public spectrum (and I'm not saying this purely because they let me write reviews for them once in a while)! I am truly in debt to to some of the great shit they've put out over the years.
   Fastfoward into a few years ago I actually had one of those funny brownie experiences with The Beyond and it wasn't fun. I was watching it on Turner Classic Movies (Sadly there was no Robert Osbourne highly acclaimed intro) and It started to veer into frightening territory, this was probably the only time I haven't enjoyed myself while watching this film! 

Rotten Cotton's genius marketing strategy

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