In 1927, Louisiana's Seven Doors Hotel is the scene of a vicious murder as a lynch mob crucifies and pours quicklime upon an artist named Schweick, whom they believe to be a warlock. The artist's murder opens one of the seven doors of death, which exist throughout the world and allow the dead to cross into the world of the living. Several decades later, a young woman from New York inherits the hotel and plans to re-open it for business. But her renovation work activates the hell-portal, and soon she and a local doctor find themselves having to deal with living dead, a ghost of a blind girl who seeks to get them to leave the house, a mystic tome called the Book of Eibon that supposedly contains the answers to the nightmare at hand, face-eating tarantulas, a young girl whose murdered parents become zombies and is herself possessed by undead spirits — and Schweick, who has returned as a malevolent, indestructible corpse, apparently in control of the supernatural forces. All hope is lost by the end, as the hero and heroine find themselves transported impossibly from a hospital stairway back to the hotel's basement. They enter a wasteland that Schweick was seen painting at the beginning of the film. After wandering around amidst fog and lifeless mummified bodies, the two go blind and fade into oblivion.
Following the release of City of the Living Dead, Fulci decided to continue that film's exploration of metaphysical concepts — in particular, the ways in which the realms of both the living and the dead might bleed into each other. Fulci also wanted to do a film that would pay homage to his idol, the French playwright Antonin Artaud. Artaud, a sometime member of the early 20th Century Surrealist movement, envisioned theatre being less about linear plot and more about "cruel" imagery and symbolism that could shock its audience into action. Thus, Fulci's original outline for The Beyond was of a non-linear haunted house story with the only solid plot element being that of a woman moving into a hotel built on one of the seven gates of hell (another such gate is depicted in City of the Living Dead). This original story focused on the dead leaving hell and entering the hotel with little outside of the ensuing carnage to link the scenes together. However, the German distribution company that owned the release rights to Fulci's films at the time were not interested in a haunted house story. Zombie movies were still popular at the time in Europe and Fulci's backers wanted something similar to his previous zombie films. Fulci agreed to rewrite his film, adding zombies and completely rewriting the film's final act to include a shoot-out between the main characters and a zombie horde at a local hospital. Despite these revisions, the final product is considered by many fans to be one of Fulci's best films and has even been praised for its oneiric incoherence.
SEVEN DOORS OF DEATH
LUCIO FULCI (1981)
ROLLING THUNDER PICTURES