Tag Archives: Italian horror

Shark versus Zombie

It’s Shark Week again and idiots thinking a whole week of shark shows on the Discovery Channel is intelligent are enjoying lazy times in front of the boob tube. I am one of those idiots – I always end up watching at least one or two shark shows during Shark Week. While watching a show called Sharkman, where some moron tries to hypnotize a Great White I couldn’t help thinking about the infamous Shark versus Zombie scene from Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2.

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The Beyond

“This hotel is one of the seven gateways to hell.”

I was surprised when I saw that Turner Classic Movies was showing Italian director Lucio Fulci’s 1981 (released in America in 1983) cult classic The Beyond on basic cable. The film’s grotesquely violent, containing some of the most intense violence I’ve seen in many films; they’re definitely some of Fulci’s most violent moments. TCM didn’t really censor anything either; the picture and sound is extraordinary and it contains all the violence that appears on the Anchor Bay DVD version. Naturally I recorded it.

The film begins in the early 20th century when a group of enraged townspeople torture and crucify a warlock. The scene is rather violent, with the mob lashing him and finally hanging him to die. Fast forward 60 years and a young woman named Liza (Katherine MacColl) just inherits the hotel the warlock died in. The hotel is Liza’s “last chance,” to make something good for herself. After the mysterious Emily (Sarah Keller), a blind woman with extremely pale eyes, an uncanny knowledge of Liza and the hotel, and a seeing eye dog named Dicky, arrives and warns Liza to leave, bad things start to happen. The hotel is one of the seven gates of hell, nestled over this quaint, rundown hotel. Along the way Liza meets Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck), who’s skeptical of Liza’s supernatural stories and the two loosely bond throughout the film. The film is a mixture of Italian zombie fare and supernatural thriller, containing all the traits common to Fulci’s films – extreme gore, decent cinematography and lighting, and horrible, yet sometimes comedic dubbing. Zombi II contains a metaphysical explanation for the zombie outbreak and The Beyond also follows a similar thread; relying on unexplained phenomenon instead of concrete, corporeal explanations.
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City of the Living Dead: The Gates of Hell

I know gore hounds everywhere praise Lucio Fulci, dubbing him, “the godfather of gore,” and a variety of other trite titles. I like some of his movies. Zombie (Zombi 2 in Italy) and The Beyond are highly entertaining, yet I’ve always felt his work is a little underdeveloped. Many of his scenes end before anything happens; it’s like he doesn’t know how to complete a scene, therefore he stops them prematurely. Whether this is intentional – to maximize horror by removing the object of the viewer’s gaze – or unintentional isn’t something I can find much on (maybe I’m looking in the wrong places). Chau Balun’s book Lucio Fulci: Beyond the Gates doesn’t give much insight into Fulci’s constant usage of this technique; in fact, Balun’s meager exploration of Fulci’s work doesn’t provide much insight at all. Instead it gives a superficial historic overview of Fulci’s work, never divulging anything relevant to the director’s thematic motivations or compositional choices. What it does convey is Fulci’s outlook on filmmaking itself. Instead of an analytic approach to horror, Fulci asserts his “nightmares are made of passion,” preferring Poe over Lovecraft.
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