Lucio Fulci's The Beyond is not my thing but I like that it exists! I’m not opposed to seeing Fulci as an artist that paints in gore (though some of it feels so schlocky and zero budget I thought I wandered into a 35mm screening of an 80s home video instead of the work of a giallo auteur) and he definitely crafts some images that marinate and stick with you.
The editing also stood out to me: the cut to the acid-melted face in the morgue and the cut to Liza’s eyes near the end as they pop up into frame in the grey-green lighting. I also was amazed with certain practical effects like the tarantulas eating the guys face — how did they do that and make it look so (not exactly “real”) but tangible?
I’m not even opposed to this kind of splatter horror (Carpenter’s The Thing is my all time favorite horror flick.) I guess I just have too delicate of sensibilities for this stuff. I like it in The Thing because it uses those stylistic flairs to raise the dramatic tension of a whodunit psychological thriller, with each splattery creature reveal bringing MacReady one step closer to solving the extraterrestrial mystery.
I don’t get that sense of levity from The Beyond; as Nick Pinkerton writes in Art Forum, “Fulci’s characters are less psychologically developed well-rounded humans than meat-puppet cyphers lining up for the chopping block.” I just leave feeling like I’ve taken in a lot of unaesthetic things, like my sum total view of the world is a bit uglier and more grim.
If one of the virtues of auteur-driven genre movies is to craft memorable evocative images and to foreground form (and style) over content (or message) as a vehicle for the author’s signature and a unique aesthetic experience, you can’t deny Fulci excels here. I just didn’t find the images worth much beyond an occasionally funny but mostly disturbing gross out.
The Beyond (1981) directed by Lucio Fulci — 2.5/5 stars