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Beyond, The (Arrow Blu-ray)

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    Ian Jane
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  • Beyond, The (Arrow Blu-ray)


    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: 3/14/2011
    Director: Lucio Fulci
    Cast: Catriona McColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar, Anthony Flees
    Year: 1981

    The Movie:

    One of Lucio Fulci's greatest achievements in atmosphere, mood and bloodshed, The Beyond (also known in North America under the alternate title of The Seven Doors Of Death) is the perfect gateway drug to the late director's output. More than any of his other works, it really encompasses his odd world view, his taste for the macabre, his penchant for grisly onscreen violence and his talents for capturing tone and creating a truly otherworldly vibe.

    The picture begins in the Louisiana of 1927 where a man known only as Schweick is put to death for practicing witchcraft, his body chained and left for dead in the basement of a hotel. Cut to 1981 when a pretty woman named Liza (Catriona MacColl) has bought the decaying hotel and is hoping to fix it up and make it operational once more. Almost as soon as she and her crew arrive on the scene, however, strange things start happening and before you know it one of the men she's hired to help her is dead.

    A plumber hired to fix the leak in the basement breaks down a wall in the basement and unwittingly opens one of the seven gates to Hell, and Liza soon begins receiving visits from a mysterious blind woman (Cinzia Monreale) and her Seeing Eye dog. The girl warns Liza that the hotel is basically cursed and tells her to get out but she's determined to stay and so she enlists the aid of a nearby doctor named John McCabe (David Warbeck) to help her figure out just what exactly is going on in the hotel and why…

    While this may not be the director's tightest or most focused effort, it's certainly one of his most lavish. The location shooting in Louisiana gives the film all sorts of authentic flair - you can almost feel the moss and mold on the buildings and the humidity in the air - while the bombardment of shockingly violent set pieces pummels you enough that you're able to overlook the logic gaps that are spread throughout the plot. This is one of those films where, yes, things don't necessarily happen for the most obvious of reasons and you could make the argument that it operates on dream logic (which really isn't logic at all) but in the context of the nightmare world that Fulci has crafted, even the nonsensical makes sense.

    MacColl and Warbeck make for a likeable enough team and they're able to carry the film easily enough. A nice supporting performance from Monreale rounds out the key cast members (though be sure to look for an appearance from Fulci himself in the library scene) admirably making this one of the director's better acted pictures. It's a shame that the film is remembered primarily for its gore. While it's obviously true that the blood and guts are important to the film's impact and intent, this is a film that is ripe with gorgeous cinematography, a truly memorable score and some impressively bleak atmosphere.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    NOTE: This review is based off of a single test disc that does not represent finished product (which has been advertised as a two disc set) and which obviously does not reflect whatever packaging/inserts may be included with finished product.

    Arrow presents The Beyond in its original 2.35.1 widescreen aspect ratio in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer. Those familiar with the film will know that it sometimes looks a bit soft, and keeping that in mind Arrow's disc looks pretty good. Color reproduction looks nice, if bright, and black levels are generally quite strong, though some of the darker scenes lose fine shadow detail. There are some instances where skin tones are a bit waxy, but the good news is that overall detail and texture are noticeably improved over previous standard definition offerings. Close up shots are quite strong while medium and long distance shots let us appreciate the set design and atmospheric visuals thanks to improved clarity. There aren't any problems with any serious print damage nor are there much in the really any compression artifacts to note, even when the fog rolls in during the later part of the movie. You will notice, however, that the opening sequence here is black and white, previously it's been sepia toned.

    An English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is provided as are DTS Italian and English 2.0 mono audio options. Optional English subtitles and closed captioning options are also provided. As far as the uncompressed track goes, it sounds quite good with the eerie score spread out nicely and the rear channels adding some nice ambient noise here and there. Bass response is good, the levels are well balanced and there aren't any issues here. It would have been nice to have the mono options in a lossless format, but that didn't happen.

    Extras on disc one kick off with the commentary from MacColl and Warbeck that has appeared on the previous North America DVD releases (from Anchor Bay and Grindhouse Releasing) and which was recorded shortly before Warback passed away, giving it a bitter sweet tone at times. The two actors amicably discuss working on the film as it was being shot in New Orleans, how they feel about the film now years after it was made, and what it was like working with Fulci, who could be notoriously difficult at times. This is a solid track and absolutely worth listening to if you haven't already given it a spin.

    The rest of the extras on this disc are new to this release, starting with a commentary track from Antonella Fulci, the late director's daughter, moderated by Calum Waddell. Antonella notes that this is a film that benefits from repeat viewings but notes that it's not her favorite of her father's pictures. From there she talks about what she likes and dislikes about the picture, noting how her father's films always show the violence on screen and discussing her appreciation for the effects work on display in the film. This isn't a scene specific track nor is it a critical analysis of the picture but rather it's a conversation between the two about what makes a Fulci film a Fulci film, Lucio's enduring legacy, and about his personality.

    Also new to this release is a featurette entitled AKA Sarah Keller: Cinzia Monreale Remembers 'The Beyond' (25:04), which is an interview with the actress who appeared in the film under the Sarah Keller alias. She beings by talking about her work in Beyond The Darkness, which she describes as 'too violent,' before discussing her working relationship with the late Joe D'Amato, calling him a 'true artisan of the cinema.' From there she talks about how Fulci called her to work on The Beyond, her thoughts on the script, the effect that key scenes in the film had on her, and about the effects shots in the film. Of course, she shares her thoughts on the late Lucio Fulci as well, describing him as pleasant but noting that, yes, he would get angry and have tantrums. Quite gracious, Monreale comes across as a class act through and through.

    A second featurette, Catriona MacColl Q&A from the Glasgow Film Theatre (20:08) which was conducted after a screening of The Beyond. MacColl fields questions from the audience and shares her thoughts on the film and on Fulci, talking about her initial thoughts after first reading the script, her feelings on the set design, character development in the film, the Christian re-edit of House By The Cemetery, and more. Seemingly quite happy to talk about the film, she's in very good spirits here. The questions from the audience are subtitled but sadly MacColl's are not and the audio quality isn't so hot, meaning not all of her answers are as clear as we might want them to be, which, coupled with the fuzzy video quality results in a presentation that's a bit rough around the edges, but the content itself is good.


    The first disc also includes menus and chapter stops, an introduction from Monreale (0:36) that plays before the feature, as well as an Easter Egg entitled Darren Ward Remembers David Warbeck (4:22). A promo spot (2:54) advertising Arrow's horror titles plays before the main menu loads. All of the extras on Disc One are presented in high definition.

    As to what's on the second disc? It wasn't made available but we'll definitely update if/when it is.

    The Final Word:

    It's hard to really sum up an unfinished release, but most of us already know how great the movie is, and the screen caps give you a pretty good indication of how this highly anticipated release is going to look. The extras that are here are decent enough, and yeah, Fulci fans should be happy with this one.

    Click on the images below for full size Blu-ray screen caps!


















    • Mike T
      #1
      Mike T commented
      Editing a comment
      Argh! My second favourite Fulci! Looks like I might have to bite the bullet and buy this one...maybe. But from the screenshots I see the intro is wrong (no sepia tone per every other version in existence), and from the review I can see the disc is littered with the input of someone I'd rather not support. This is a very, very tough call for me -- it should be always only ever be about the film, but there's two major strikes right there.
      Last edited by Mike T; 02-21-2011, 10:15 AM.

    • Goldberg
      #2
      Goldberg commented
      Editing a comment
      Great to see you got the Web web exclusive on this disc!..I dunno, I wouldn't have noticed the sepia removal if it weren't mentioned as I've only seen the film once..! Regardless the HD transfer looks pretty good for a film of this vintage...It's a hard call with these cult films going to BluRay since the original films very grimy and grungy and shitty to begin with...I mean the MANIAC BluRay looks like a polished turd, albiet a not so bad smelling one, and Lustig supervised that one, so you can only do what you can do with restoring these films!
    Posting comments is disabled.

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