I was stumped on this one because I can’t think of a horror movie that tackled an issue. I’m sure I’m missing one. I also didn’t realize until I was into this thirty day meme that there was actually a thirty days of horror movies thing going around but I was already busy adapting this one by that point. So, although I’m sure the first person to do this challenge meant for everyone to name a politically-charged movie, I’m giving the #11 spot to The Beyond on a technicality.
Technically, The Beyond managed to change my opinion of not only it but of “choose-your-own-interpretation” horror in general. I had heard that it was Fulci’s masterpiece, yet my initial viewing left me very disappointed, as I complained to the ether here. Then my amazing husband came home from work one day during summer ’09 and surprised me with delicious Chinese food and several used DVDs, one of which was The Beyond, under the alternate title Seven Doors of Death. He thought I would really like it and was so pleased with his find that I decided to give it another shot.
Soon, as if I was influenced by the Book of Eibon itself, I was putting the movie on late at night after I’d already watched whatever I was writing about. Then I was showing it to my nephew, the fledgling horror fan. Before I knew it, it was October ’10 and I contemplated spending money I didn’t have to drive to another city to watch a midnight showing on the big screen at a theater full of hipsters and beer. I didn’t do it, because I’d committed to driving to the same place to see The Evil Dead the next night with a horror tourist who wanted an intro to good horror, but I was very disappointed that I couldn’t go.
In short, I completely changed my opinion of The Beyond, quite in spite of myself, and I’m not sure why. It has become one of those “comfort movies” to me. I do think I finally learned to accept that great visuals in a horror movie are the most important thing. Also, the soundtrack kicks major ass. Now I suppose I have to suck it up and give Kairo another shot too.
I can, however, explain how it changed my opinion of movies with ambiguous endings, at least as it relates to movies with unambiguous endings. Sometimes when you’re dealing with things that can’t happen anyway, like walking through the door in a hospital and ending up in your basement on the other side of town, a neat little wrapped package of an ending is ironically very unsatisfying. For some reason, if you want your audience to keep thinking about your movie after it’s over, an artful, stylish WTF conclusion is the way to go.
For the record, I think they were dead before they left the basement the first time, after Liza tries to show the doctor Arthur’s zombified corpse, and that the sequence in the hospital was a death hallucination like those in Jacob’s Ladder. It seems to fit with what I understand about the Tibetan Book of the Dead which obviously influenced both movies. Liza and the doctor crossed over when the seventh door opened, but they had yet to let go of life. Maybe the hospital carnage made them give up the ghost by saying, “fuck it; I don’t want to live in a world with natural laws like these,” or maybe they peacefully accepted their deaths. Either way, and even if the hospital zombies are tacked on to placate the producers who liked Zombi a whole lot, it fits the rest of the movie beautifully.
Also, I am pleased to say I read an interview with Fulci and I was right all along about eye injuries being an intentional theme. Apparently, where Liza’s going, they don’t need eyes.