Director: Lucio Fulci
Grindhouse Releasing

In Louisiana in 1927, a "warlock" named Schweick is seized by a torch-wielding lynch mob. In the basement of a hotel, they chain whip him, crucify him, and pour quicklime all over his body, allowing the flesh to literally melt off his bones. More than 50 years later, a pretty young lady named Liza (Catriona MacColl) inherits the same hotel and plans to renovate it. As soon as she arrives, strange things occur, and a number of her house workers end up mutilated and dead.

A hairy plumber (actually, "Joe the Plumber") comes to fix the swimming pool of a flood in the basement. When he busts a whole in the wall, he unknowingly unlocks one of the seven gates of hell, but not before he has his eyes explicitly gauged out. Liza is then visited by a mysterious blind girl (Cinzia Monreale) who warns her of the hotel's secret and tells her to get out. A kindly, rugged doctor (David Warbeck, TWINS OF EVIL) is enlisted to help, but all hell breaks loose as a series of demonic forces plagues the town and the living dead walk the earth.

Like fine wine, Lucio Fulci's films get better with age, making me get down on my hands and knees begging for his brand of genre which has now been diminished in the modern horror age of tired CGI effects and useless remakes of films that were done much better the first time around. Gone are the days of sometimes crude but effectively nasty special effects (by the talented likes of Gianetto de Rossi) that in this case, make the viewer anxiously await each of the various gory setpieces. With THE BEYOND, Fulci sustains a loose and confusing storyline by allowing the graphic vignettes -- depicting violations sent from hell -- to be the surreal attraction of the movie.

Like his CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (aka THE GATES OF HELL), the themes of the doorway to hell are here explored in a visionary fashion, and like that film, the zombies are used as an added bonus (or a highlight) to this "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to stylized horror. With all its eye popping, throat splitting, acid pouring, head shooting, etc., THE BEYOND is like a 1950s EC comic come to life; it relies almost totally on vision, and it's a truly fascinating, gory, gothic vision to behold, often considered the Italian maestro's finest work by his dedicated legion of fans.

Previously, THE BEYOND was released on video in the U.S. as THE SEVEN DOORS OF DEATH after a brief theatrical run in the mid-1980s in a version that was snipped of most of the meat and potatoes. In 1998, Rolling Thunder re-released the film theatrically to the arthouse crowd, and the remastered, uncut version of THE BEYOND became a surprise midnight hit. Anchor Bay gave us a proper DVD (in both standard and “collector’s tin” editions) in 2000; both the theatrical run and the AB disc were done in conjunction with Grindhouse, who are now re-releasing it themselves and carrying over the same excellent transfer and most of the extras, plus some new ones. THE BEYOND is appropriately letterboxed at its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. The colors look stable, remaining true to the dim, low-lit appearance of the film. The transfer is very clean and free of any major source damage, but there is some minor grain in darker scenes. The English track, which is in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1, is superb, well-rendering Fabio Frizzi's fabulously eerie score and the expectedly unsettling sound effects. There is also a 2.0 surround track, the original mono soundtrack and a mono Italian language track. Optional English subtitles are included.

The abundance of extras include a commentary by the British-born MacColl (heroine of several other Fulci epics) and Australian-born Warbeck, which is very lively as both fondly reminisce about making a low budget film for an Italian director in New Orleans and in Rome. Both actors seem amazed at the growing popularity of THE BEYOND and are overwhelmed by the amount of fans they have because of it. Sadly, the conversation was recorded in a hospital shortly before Warbeck died of cancer in 1997. He is very high-spirited, but it's obvious by his voice that he was seriously ill. MacColl also returns for a brief on-camera introduction, recorded in 2008 for this release. Other extras include a massive still and poster gallery (entitled “Images From The Beyond”) which also includes some interviews with MacColl, Warbeck and Fulci videotaped at European conventions, as well as footage of Fulci on the set of 1990's DEMONIA. This section also contains just about every piece of paraphernalia on THE BEYOND imaginable! “Voices From The Beyond” is over 20 minutes of recent interview footage of various cast and crew members reminiscing about Fulci, and this was taken from a great special order DVD entitled “Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered - Volume 1” ( The U.S. re-release trailer, an international trailer and a German theatrical trailer are also on hand, as is a thrash metal music video (with clips from THE BEYOND) for a song called "And You Will Live in Terror." Another great bonus is the alternate German pre-credit sequence that depicts Schweick's execution in vivid color rather than sepia-tone as in the regular version, and it’s playable in English or German.

Look for a hidden feature (found on the “Audio Setup” menu) which is the original opening for the U.S. cut, THE SEVEN DOORS OF DEATH, albeit in full frame. Chas Balun writes the liner notes in a glossy booklet which unfolds into a reproduction of the French poster, and the back of the cover insert contains a full Fulci filmography. (George R. Reis)