June 17, 2015

Screening Report: The Beyond (6/16/15 Alamo Drafthouse, NY)

Comparatively speaking, I have not been a horror aficionado for very long. I have covered a lot of ground, but always feel like I am playing catch up. Still, in that time I have come to love a fellow named Lucio Fulci. I may have only seen a handful of his movies to this point, but there is no denying that he has risen through the ranks of favorite directors. Among that handful, one has become one of my all time favorites, The Beyond. A masterpiece of surrealistic, gory horror, so any chance to see it on the big screen must be taken, of this there is no question.

On the eve of Lucio Fulci's birthday the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Yonkers, NY, was screening said film as part of their Mondo X Chiller series. It was a screening I kind of wavered on the idea of going to see, but I made the only decision I could. Obviously I went. It was the second time I have seen the movie projected from 35mm this year, third time within a year, and fourth time overall. I am thrilled every time I get to see it.

I got to the theater about a half hour prior to the start time and took the obligatory photo of the poster displayed outside the theater.

As I stood there waiting for the theater to open for seating, I overheard a few fellow moviegoers talking about the movie. It was clear that they had never seen it before. This made me happy, the idea that there were some virgin eyes getting to experience this masterpiece. So, I gave them a little information on the film, which they seemed appreciative of, but then I caught site of a couple people I knew. A friend of mine had won a pair of tickets at last weekend's Hudson Horror Show, so I joined them, excited to see the movie.

We made our way inside to our seats and watched the custom pre show filled with horror oddities, a little House by the Cemetery, some Coffin Joe, some great odd stuff to get ready with. Then as the start neared, an Alamo Staffer took center stage to introduce the movie. Spoke of how he would consume American horror classics, Halloween, Chainsaw, Friday, Elm Street, and the rest, before discovering foreign horror, specifically Italian. I think he got an earlier start than I did, but it felt like a similar tale of discovery.

Then there was the giveaway. The prize, a 2LP vinyl of music from the films of Fulci. The trivia question was a simple one, Catriona MacColl stars in The Beyond, she also stars in two other Fulci films, which collectively are known as the Gates of Hell trilogy, what are the other two? My hand went up first, but someone else was called on "City of the Living Dead and Zombi 2." Unbelievable, he got it wrong! My hand went back up, I was called on... "City of the Living Dead and " ... Oh no, my mind went blank. What was it? In a few seconds that felt like an eternity I frantically searched my mind... "House by the Cemetery." Nailed it. Yup, yours truly won! Now on to the movie.

The lights went down and the movie began. What a glorious sight to behold. It is far from a perfect print and feels cobbled together from a few different prints based on the color changes and one reel using X change markers instead of the more familiar, to me, cigarette burns. While the recent Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray is absolutely stunning, this marked up and we'll used print feels like the right way to watch it.

It does not seem to matter how many times I watch it, there is always something to see. For example, this was the first time, as well as my friend's, noticing the Jesus is the way license plate on the front of Joe the Plumber's truck. A little thing, but never saw it before. Also, each viewing brings me a little closer to unraveling the extremely surreal film. It defies logic at every turn, but with each viewing, I see a little more.

If you can see this movie in a theater, you really need to. Be prepared for something weird. This movie blends reality and nightmare in one crazy mash. It does not explain itself, which just adds to the specific quality the film has. On the surface, it makes no sense, but there really is a lot going on. I do not want to go into it all here, but if you pay attention, you will begin to see how everything connects and how they relate.

As great as the movie is and as great as the company was, this was not exactly an ideal screening. I am used to movies like this drawing a certain kind of audience, but this time was different. It was like I was surrounded by non-horror fans out looking for a laugh. There was a fair amount of disrespect through the entire thing. I was surrounded by long running fits of inappropriate laughter. People just wanting to make fun of a movie they clearly were not getting. It did not help the experience. On top of that, there was a group of slack jawed, mouth breathers who never learned how to close their mouths while eating chips for the entire movie. These things drove me up a wall. It also makes me so thankful for the audiences at Hudson Horror Show, that is a great crowd.

Still, I got to see an amazing movie projected from a 35mm print with friends, it was far from a total washout. The best I can say is if you are going to see an old film in a theater, maybe do a little research and show a little respect. You are not in your living room and no one else thinks you're funny.

The Beyond is an amazing film. There is a lot more going on than you think. Plus, it is gorgeously shot, and features the amazing music of Fabio Frizzi. There really is nothing like Classic Italian horror. If you ever feel like watching some, you know where I am.

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