[Blu-ray Review] The Rotting Flesh Has Never Looked Better in Fulci’s ‘The Beyond’ from Shameless Films

One of Lucio Fulci’s most (in)famous films is no stranger to physical media releases, and on Blu-ray alone, 1981’s The Beyond has been previously released by Arrow Video in 2011 and Grindhouse Releasing in 2014. Much like the other films in Fulci’s unofficial “Gates of Hell” trilogy, however, it’s one of those old standards us gorehounds love, and when you start talking about new scans and extras, well… Shameless Screen Entertainment is here to guide us back into that foggy beyond. 

The story is simple. A young woman named Liza Merrill (Catriona MacColl) inherits a Louisiana hotel with a dark past that involves a witch hunt (warlock hunt?) and melting flesh opening one of the Seven Doors of Death. The renovations inadvertently reopen that portal, proving that finding reliable contractors before Yelp really was hell on Earth. What follows are corpses both decorative and reanimated, an array of impressive eye trauma we’ve come to expect from Fulci, a beautiful blind woman named Emily (Cinzia Monreale) who sees more than most of us as well as having a cool guide dog, and Eibon, one of the greatest deadly and forbidden pieces of literature since the Necronomicon and that sex book Goop put out. Add in a game David Warbeck, and you have yourself a memorable night.

So I guess I stretched the truth about that “simple story” idea: The Beyond has stood the test of time by being as nightmarish as it is dreamlike and as outlandish as it is horrific. Everything and several kitchen sinks can be found in the film, and each revisit is a treat as there’s always some weird new corridor to discover.

Shameless Films put in the work to make this a worthwhile release for both long-time collectors and new fans by providing a new 2k scan, and the film is presented in 1080p HD and its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It’s beautiful even when compared to Grindhouse’s fine job, and it keeps the warm look and film grain intact, respecting the distinctive Louisiana exteriors, the dreamlike sequences, and the more supernatural terrors equally. The rotting flesh, too, has truly never looked better. 

Special Features 

One of the most intriguing new special features is the choice of four different prologue options when it comes to color. You have the default sepia tone most of us are used to; black and white; sepia-tone on color (think of it as an ultra-concentrated, brighter sepia look) and what I personally think looks best, the original color camera footage version as shot by Sergio Salvati. There’s backstory for the versions included, a quick play option for each one, and a separate feature that plays all four versions at the same time throughout the entire prologue. They’re interesting to compare in one sitting and also a fun addition to cycle through each time you rewatch the movie. 

The rest of the new extras feature fresh interviews produced by Italy’s Freak-O-Rama Video Productions, who have worked with Grindhouse, Severin, Blue Underground, 88 Films, Scorpion Releasing and more. Included are: 

Murder, They Wrote: Working with Lucio Fulci: A Conversation with Giorgio Mariuzzo (13 min) – A pleasant remembrance with the screenwriter and frequent Fulci collaborator. 

Arachnophobia: Interview with Michele Mirabella – Running just under half an hour, this is a spirited talk from the actor as he gives a bit of the history of his career, how Fulci found him for the role, being a tourist in New Orleans, and other fun on-set stories.

Lucio Fulci on Set – Less than two minutes of behind-the-scenes camcorder-quality footage of Fulci on the set of Demonia in a short interview. In Italian with no subtitles

Emily’s Eyes: Interview with Cinzia Monreale – Just over 15 minutes, this is a wonderful talk with the iconic, milky-contact-wearing actress recounting how much fun she had in her acting career and working with Fulci. Important note: She seems to age one year for every 20 but doesn’t offer any skincare tips, so keep that in mind.

All interviews are in Italian with English subtitles. 

The two commentaries included are ported over from NoShame Film. The commentary with Director of Photography Sergio Salvati, moderated by Paolo Alviero, is in Italian and contains English subtitles. 

Shameless Films’ region 2 release burst out into our dimension and onto shelves on January 13, 2020. 

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