Some of the films I’ve taken a look at are plot driven, with symbolism,thought provoking sequences and sometimes social commentary on the world we live in.This is not one of them, And yet it goes without saying that director Lucio Fulci is a cornerstone in the world of cult cinema.Someone once asked me what made him so unique, simply put; if you take plot, character development and story arc and throw them out the window and left only a visual assault on the senses, you get Fulci, The “Godfather Of Gore.”
His most famous movie is the 1979 “Zombie Flesh Eaters,”but a lot like Mario Bava, Fulci didn’t only do horror films.He directed over 60 films during his career, including Giallo classics “Don’t Torture A Duckling”(1972) and “A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin”(1971) , and even some spaghetti westerns.His legacy however, was forever cemented by his contributions to horror. Specifically his “Gates Of Hell” Trilogy which included “City Of The Living Dead” (1980), “The House By The Cemetery” (1980) and my personal favorite of the three “The Beyond” (also released in 1980.)
The film takes place in New Orleans, Where a young woman from New York named Liza inherits the 7 Doors Hotel and has plans on renovating it and re-opening it to the public, Unbeknownst to her that several decades earlier in 1927 a young artist named Schweik was crucified to a wall in a room of the hotel and subsequently, the room is sealed off and he is left to rot by an angry lynch mob, for allegedly discovering one of the gateways to hell. (I’ve always felt this was an ode to “The Cask Of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe) renovations go unimpeded until the a local repairman “Joe The Plumber” (and no, I’m not making that up) tears a hole in the sealed room were the artist lies,his eyes are gouged out by the zombified corpse of Schweik, and all hell ensues from this moment on.
While driving down a vacant highway she encounters a woman who has no eyes, and is accompanied only by her seeing eye dog named Emily, who warns her about the hotel she has just inherited.She also later explains to her the story of the artists discovery of the gateway to Hell and his murder at the hands of the lynch mob.
I’ve said in quite a few of my posts that horror is what you don’t see, In this case however, as with most of Fulci’s films he places the extremity right in front of you, without apology.I’m not going to give away all the graphic death scenes within the film, (once again you’ll have to see it for yourself) But heres a hint; Next time you’ll think twice before climbing the ladder at your local library.
Close to the final act of the film it’s revealed that the gateway to hell that Schweik discovered is all concealed within a painting he was working on at the time of his murder.And this is by far in my opinion one of the best scenes in the film. A desolate landscape with a blackened sky, no colors and little detail, just an image conveying feelings of misery and hopelessness, somewhat symbolic of purgatory. Faceless corpses litter the landscape that is barren and outstretched for miles.
(Trivia Fact: The Corpses are real people, Instead of building models or props Fulci actually found local winos and paid them with alcohol in between shots)
In the end, for all of it’s plot holes, This film stands the test of time as truly one of the finest moments of one of horror’s greatest and undoubtedly twisted minds.In a world were CGI and recycled ideas are paraded in front of us every few months, I know I can always throw this film on at the drop of a hat, And proclaim with certainty “Fulci Lives”