The Beyond (1981)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Seen via: Anchor Bay DVD (Region 1)
Every time I rewatch this film, I realize just how good it is. This is the apotheosis of Fulci.
A doorway to hell, a vortex of evil, mangling both the flesh of those who seek it and the logic of reality nearby. Fulci has always been obsessed with eyes, vision, and seeing the forbidden (even metatextually). Some things are not meant for men's eyes, and come at the price of sanity. This is a study of ignorance and blindness - ignorance of the fact that you've transgressed against primal boundaries and blindness to the fundamentally vindictive nature of the universe.
All the rules are gone in this one. It's unsettling every time I watch it because it defies human logic. To defeat something, you have to understand it. Without a clear antagonist, how can you hope to survive? There's nothing but despair in the face of pure disembodied malevolence. You're afraid of going to hell? How about realizing you're already there?
Everything Fulci does well, he does well here. The sleaze of italian horror cinema coats this one thickly, and it's not a taste that everyone will love. If you've acquired it though, it doesn't get much better than this. Dreamlike (il)logic, tons of gore set-pieces, an incredible Fabio Frizzi soundtrack, and an atmosphere of pervasive dread all work seamlessly. It's also beautifully shot. All-in-all, a must-see. 1981 was an incredible year for the genre, due in no small part to this film.