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The Beyond Reviews

Classic Italian splatter directed by Lucio Fulci, reviled and adored in equal proportions by Euro-horror fans. The story begins in a spooky New Orleans hotel in 1927, where a painter of the macabre named Schyke (Gianpaolo Saccarola) has been messing around with the book of Eibon, the gates of hell and other matters best left alone. He's murdered by an angry mob, but 50 years later young Lisa (Katherine MacColl) comes from New York to reopen the hotel, and the creepy stuff starts up again. Workmen are killed in mysterious accidents, her architect (Michele Mirabella) is devoured by spiders while trying to research the hotel's history, the call bell from Schyke's room buzzes mysteriously, and an enigmatic blind girl (Sarah Keller) warns that unless Lisa packs up and skedaddles, something very bad is going to happen, like the dead are going to rise and walk the Earth. With the help of a local doctor (David Warbeck), Lisa fails to prevent the dead from escaping the gates of hell and, well, all hell breaks loose. Make no mistake: Fulci isn't Dario Argento, which means that his films have all the well-known liabilities of Italian horror -- incomprehensible plots, highly variable acting and discordantly dubbed soundtracks -- without the compensation of Argento's perversely beautiful imagery or lush sense of spectacle. And this particular film is an uneasy hybrid of classic -- if clunky -- ghost tale and zombie holocaust, two very different types of horror story that play by distinctly different rules. But enough quibbling. Fulci, who died in 1996 at the age of 69, was on the front lines of spaghetti splatter, and it's a pleasure to see any of his films in a theater rather than panned and scanned on videotape. So kudos to Grindshow Entertainment for resurrecting it.