Update late 2018: After a Halloween rewatch, I stand all the more in awe of Fulci’s truly irrational editing scheme and his almost unholy skill not simply dropping us into an unraveling narrative but demolishing the presumption of rational sense-ordering in horror to begin with. The Beyond remains a truly scrambled, egg-beaten (or brain-beaten) perceptual experience, even in the already demonically playful realm of giallo-inflected fear, let alone the wider horror genre.
It is a truth undeniable that Lucio Fulci’s 1981 Grand Guignol The Beyond lacks a capable narrative or characters, but this is true only in the way that L’Avventura and Breathless lack much in the way of conventionally sufficient narratives or sensible characters. They are all anti-narrative, anti-character films, and the deficiency is fully intentional in each case. They are films precisely about the deconstruction of narrative, and the characters intentionally maneuver themselves through their worlds in contrived, non-natural ways to illustrate a point about the artifice of narrative, of human activity, and of film and its relationship to the human condition.
Fulci’s vision is no different, although it is filtered through a different form. Just as Breathless is about the artifice of ordered narrative and the boredom it instills in filmic storytelling , The Beyond is too about the way films define order and conventional narrative. Except while Godard’s works read between the lines with finesse to explore that order past itself to expose it for the destructive self that it is, Fulci’s film takes the broadest brush it can find and cuts through the order with a giant blood-red stroke. While Godard’s work creates a sort of hyper-order to serve its purposes, Fulci’s denounces order entirely. Continue reading