When DVD became the dom­i­nant for­mat in home video, it allowed a lot of gen­re films that had nev­er got­ten prop­er treat­ment on video to be res­cued. The Beyond is a great exam­ple of such a film. On VHS, it was only avail­able in a cut-down, rescored form as Seven Doors Of Death. Grindhouse Releasing gave the orig­i­nal ver­sion a prop­er remas­ter­ing in cel­lu­loid form, team­ing with Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder for a fond­ly-remem­bered the­atri­cal revival in the mid ‘90s, and then teamed with Anchor Bay for a DVD edi­tion that made long-suf­fer­ing Eurocult fans rejoice.

Beyond-bluSince then, the same fans have wait­ed patient­ly for a U.S. blu-ray (Arrow did a solid U.K. edi­tion but that left those who aren’t region-free out in the cold). Grindhouse Releasing recent­ly revived The Beyond as part of their series of lav­ish blu-ray spe­cial edi­tions and the results are a mul­ti-lay­ered treat for the film’s fans.

The trans­fer uses the same source used for the Arrow spe­cial edi­tion but ben­e­fits from some new tweak­ing done by Grindhouse, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the area of col­or cor­rec­tion. The ele­ments were in nice shape and the col­or cor­rec­tion gives the film a rich visu­al palet­te that suits Sergio Salvati’s lush pho­tog­ra­phy. HD anoraks will note some fluc­tu­a­tions in the over­all detail qual­i­ty but this is still the best-look­ing ver­sion of this title to date.

Beyond-04A whole host of audio options are offered for the film, all in loss­less form: 5.1 and 2.0 stereo English tracks as well as English and Italian mono tracks. The 5.1 English track was lis­tened to for this review and it’s a suit­ably robust affair that keeps the dia­logue clear while adding mul­ti-chan­nel shad­ings to the sound effects and espe­cial­ly Fabio Frizzi’s rich musi­cal score.

When it comes to the extras, Grindhouse Releasing has made an all-stops-out effort, pil­ing hours upon hours’ worth of extras for the fans. A small set is includ­ed on the first disc (much of the room is tak­en up by the film and its mul­ti­ple audio tracks). The biggest extra on the first disc is the David Warbeck/Catriona MacColl com­men­tary that appeared on the old Anchor Bay ver­sion of this title. It’s a relaxed but infor­ma­tive affair Beyond-pos3fuelled by chem­istry of its two par­tic­i­pants as they dis­cuss their mem­o­ries of the shoot, their fel­low cast mem­bers and share some great sto­ries about Lucio Fulci’s infa­mous­ly mer­cu­ri­al tem­pera­ment. Warbeck cracks a lot of good-natured jokes through­out, mak­ing it a breezy lis­ten. Be sure to lis­ten out for the anec­dote about Al Cliver!

The remain­ing extras on disc one are in video form. First up is a full-col­or ver­sion of the film’s sepia-tint­ed pro­logue, pre­sent­ed with German and English dubs. It gives fans a mul­ti­col­ored eye­ful of the vicious lye-on-flesh make­up effects. There is also an array of trail­ers for the film: inter­na­tion­al, German, U.S orig­i­nal release (with t.v. spots and the Rolling Thunder reis­sue. Fans will par­tic­u­lar­ly have fun with the spots from the orig­i­nal Seven Doors Of Death U.S. release, which include lurid (and some­what mis­lead­ing) 42nd Street-style nar­ra­tion and pull-quotes from Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel.

ImageThe sec­ond blu-ray is where the bonan­za of extras heats up. First up is a series of killer, in-depth fea­turettes that take the view­er inside the expe­ri­ence of work­ing with Fulci. “Looking Back” starts things off in a deluxe style, deliv­er­ing a 48-min­ute piece anchored by inter­views with cin­e­matog­ra­pher Sergio Salvati, pro­duc­er Fabrizio De Angelis, screen­writer Dardano Sacchetti, com­poser Fabio Frizzi, Antonella Fulci and oth­ers.

Their mem­o­ries paint a por­trait of Fulci as a dif­fi­cult but tal­ent­ed and sen­si­tive man. This seg­ment also cov­ers how Italian gen­re fare was pitched and presold in its hey­day, Frizzi’s inspi­ra­tions and tech­niques as a com­poser, how Antonella Fulci pro­vid­ed the inspi­ra­tion for the “Eibon” sym­bol, how Salvati cre­at­ed his approach to light­ing and even some philo­soph­i­cal mus­ings on the nature of death from Sacchetti. The end result gives Beyond-pos4you a new appre­ci­a­tion for the intel­li­gence and artistry of all who con­tribut­ed.

New Orleans Connection” devotes 44 min­utes to U.S. loca­tion scout/production coör­di­na­tor Larry Ray and remains inter­est­ing through­out. He reveals how he tran­si­tioned from t.v. broad­cast­ing into become the American point man for the pro­duc­tion of The Beyond, with plen­ty of insight into the impro­vi­sa­tion approach and the fast-mov­ing “let’s put on a show” approach of the Italian film­mak­ers. He also has some great tales about the bridge sequence and the spi­der attack scene.

ImageBeyond And Back” is a 34-min­ute chat with MacColl, who cov­ers all three movies she did with Fulci. She reveals why she tran­si­tioned from danc­ing to act­ing, how she almost didn’t do City Of The Living Dead and some thoughts on Fulci’s direct­ing approach and tem­pera­ment. “See Emily Play” is a 22-min­ute sit­down with Cinzia Monreale, who is as insight­ful as she is charm­ing. She gives a fas­ci­nat­ing por­trait of how she approached and pre­pared for her char­ac­ter and reveals a gen­uine fond­ness for Fulci, who she remained friends with until his death.

The hard­core hor­ror fans will be delight­ed by “Making It Real” which explores the make­up effects via a pair of inter­views with make­up FX wiz­ards Giannetto De Rossi and Maurizio Trani. They give details on how sev­er­al of the major make­up effects were done (the method for the acid-melt­ed face is fas­ci­nat­ing), how they used sim­ple meth­ods for com­plex effects and dis­cuss their thoughts on Fulci, whom Trani mem­o­rably dubs “a good ogre.”

Beyond-pos3The next cou­ple of items are archival pieces that allow Fulci to par­tic­i­pate in the extras. The first is a two-part, 33-min­ute audio record­ing of the direc­tor answer­ing ques­tions for an inter­view, accom­pa­nied by an art­ful mon­tage of pho­tos. He dis­cuss­es vir­tu­al­ly all his hor­ror titles, dis­cuss­es his inspi­ra­tions, reveals why he cut ties with Sacchetti and even offers up opin­ions on Argento and Kubrick(!). His stream of com­ments reveal an intel­lec­tu­al, play­ful and thor­ough­ly irrev­er­ent mind.

Fulci also appears in 46 min­ute seg­ment of footage from Eurofest 94, where he answers ques­tions via a trans­la­tor alongside David Warbeck. He was less than two years from pass­ing away but he charms the hor­ror fan crowd with his enthu­si­asm and impas­sioned opin­ions. Warbeck is also charm­ing as he intro­duces the film and signs auto­graphs for the fans alongside the direc­tor.

Warbeck returns for a brief bit of footage from Eurofest 96, in which he and MacColl are enthu­si­as­tic but a bit sur­prised of the fan­dom for their Italian film work. Both actor also appear in sep­a­rate Q&A seg­ments from the 1996 Fest Of Fantastic Film. MacColl cov­ers a lot of the ter­ri­to­ry she deals with else­where on this set in her chat but Warbeck real­ly shi­nes in the Q&A for­mat, express­ing fond­ness for his Italian work and also telling fun tales from the sets of Twins Of Evil andBeyond-05 Trog.

Tucked away at the end of the inter­views sec­tion of disc two is “Beyond Italy.” This 19-min­ute fea­turet­te focus­es on Terry Levene, the vet­er­an indie b-movie dis­trib­u­tor who han­dled The Beyond’s orig­i­nal U.S. release and a vet­er­an of the 42nd Street grind­house scene. He offers a fas­ci­nat­ing glimpse into what it was like to scout for­eign films and refash­ion them into grind­house-friend­ly pro­duct dur­ing the ‘70s and ‘80s, explain­ing how he got his films, why he angli­cized cred­its and how he designed cam­paigns for the b-movie audi­ence. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing stuff on an area of the exploita­tion film busi­ness that doesn’t get a lot of cov­er­age.

Beyond-pos2Once you’re done with the blu-rays, this set still has more to offer. There’s a third disc which offers a fresh­ly-remas­tered CD of The Beyond’s sound­track. Fabio Frizzi’s score is a key part of the film’s over­all impact and it makes more a deli­cious­ly macabre lis­ten sep­a­rate from the film, a mix­ture of orches­tral and choral stylings with prog-rock mus­cle that sounds like Goblin sit­ting in on a Ennio Morricone scor­ing ses­sion.

A col­or insert book­let com­pletes the pack­age, con­tain­ing two essays. The first a brief appre­ci­a­tion of the film and the work Grindhouse did in restor­ing by gone-but-nev­er-for­got­ten hor­ror crit­ic Chas Balun. The oth­er is a detailed analy­sis of The Beyond and its influ­ences by Martin Beine. He draws inter­est­ing par­al­lels between The Beyond and Horror Hotel, Inferno and oth­er films, includ­ing sev­er­al ele­ments that Fulci quot­ed from his past films and ele­ments he would revis­it in sub­se­quent works. Along the way, Beine makes a strong case for Fulci as an inspired syn­the­sist who makes the­se quo­ta­tions his own. It’s a great, thought-pro­vok­ing read for fans.

In short, Grindhouse Releasing has given The Beyond a wor­thy intro­duc­tion to the blu-ray for­mat in the U.S. and piled on hours of extras that fans will love sift­ing through. Even if you own the Arrow edi­tion, this is an upgrade in sev­er­al areas and well worth the pur­chase for Fulci fans.