“The Beyond” at Beyond Fest: “Off-kilter discoveries that are by turns demented, badass and always provocative”

By on October 4, 2015

The program notes for L.A.’s Beyond Fest — the highest-attended genre film festival in the U.S., showing contemporary horror, sci-fi, crime, and action films — describe it best: “Diabolic possession, giant yellow alien octopi, cannibalistic tribes of Troglodytes, routines of Bingo and cannibalism, neo-noir, mind-melting powers, twin gangsters, dream demons, zombies, martial arts, body snatchers, a disappearing shower curtain, a phantom living in the bowels of the Paris Opera house and a lot of dark secrets fuel the drama in the inhabitants of Beyond Fests’ offerings this season.”

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The festival continues tonight (Sunday, October 4) with a SOLD OUT screening of the fully-uncensored, un-rated director’s cut of Lucio Fulci’s gothic masterpiece The Beyond, which is described by Spencer Hickman in the program notes as “slight on story and heavy on atmospherics and extreme violence,” and also the director’s “most feverish and accomplished film released during his horror and gore heydays of the 70s and 80s.” Grindhouse Releasing are generously sharing their private 35mm print of Fulci’s gothic masterpiece.

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The film’s storyline concerns Liza (Catriona MacColl), who inherits a decrepit New Orleans hotel with plans to renovate it, but she learns too late that the cellar is one of seven doors leading to Hell; after several gruesome accidents, the passageway opens, unleashing a horde of zombies.

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Beyond Fest have also partnered with Mondo and Death Waltz Recording Co. to bring the Italian maestro/horror composer Fabio Frizzi to Los Angeles for his first ever appearance to perform some of his horror classics live with his 8-piece Frizzi2Fulci Orchestra, right before the screening of The Beyond.

Frizzi will be performing suites from Lucio Fulci’s classic Italian horror films including Zombi 2 (aka Zombie Flesh Easters), Seven Notes In Black, The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, Manhattan Baby and more. Orchestral performances will also be accompanied by live visuals derived from Fulci’s iconic filmography.

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From the program notes: “Highly influential to this day, Fabio Frizzi is one of the most celebrated Italian film composers, and respected in the same iconic pantheon as Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, Goblin and Gianni Ferrio. Frizzi’s influence has been cited by a vast range of contemporary artists ranging from Boards Of Canada to Wu Tang’s RZA, and he is heavily referenced by the rising stars of synth-horror including Umberto and Zombi. Frizzi’s work also resonates with cinephiles as Quentin Tarantino used the theme from Seven Notes In Black  for his soundtrack to Kill Bill Vol. 1″

To celebrate Fabio’s arrival in the US, Death Waltz Recording Co. will be releasing two new Fabio Frizzi releases on ltd edition vinyl, both of which will be available to purchase at the Beyond Fest show on October 4th

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Also screening tonight is the U.S. premiere of Curtain, Jaron Henrie-McCrea’s heartfelt, lo-fi follow up to his debut film Pervertigo , described by Evrim Ersoy in the program notes as “an amazing meld of Hitchcock and Henenlotter – using any and every course to hand, Jaron conjures up a world of portals, cults and madmen filtering it through a touching and funny sensitivity which keeps you hooked throughout. Great visuals, aided by simple yet entertainingly effective special effects, hide a tale with many twists – all deftly handled, building to an eye-popping climax with a heavy dose of insanity. There is unlikely to be another 75 minutes in 2015 that is as jam-packed and entertaining as Curtain.”

Beyond Fest — which opened this past Thursday night, October 1, 2015 — is presented by Shudder, and runs through Sunday, October 12th at Hollywood’s famed Egyptian Theatre, with proceeds from tickets sales to generate funds for co-presenter American Cinematheque.

The festival opened with the an advance screening of writer-director Brian Hegeland’s Legend, a new feature starring Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight Rises, Locke) as notorious London gangsters the Kray brothers (both played by Tom Hardy). Read about it here.

This weekend offered up The Evil Dead (1983) and Evil Dead II (1987), both directed by Sam Raimi, with Bruce Campbell and Edgar Wright both in attendance to introduce the films (Campbell appeared in a Q&A with the audience in between the screenings, no doubt to discuss his forthcoming Starz cable show “Ash vs. Evil Dead).

Continuing with the live musical performances, composer Steve Moore performs prior to the telekinesis-gone-wrong tale The Mind’s Eye on Friday October 9th, and writer-director Joe Begos, editor Josh Ethier and actors Graham Skipper & Noah Segan will be in attendance. Other musical performances include the synth duo I Speak Machine performing live before the anthology shocker Southbound, and the silent horror landmark Phantom of the Opera will be presented with live musicians performing the original 1925 score.

(Just as an aside, as this isn’t part of Beyond Fest, but we were also excited to read about Roxy: The Movie, which we told you about here. Filmed over three nights in December 1973 at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood, the documentary features the unparalleled composer and guitarist leading one of the most enduring lineups of band The Mothers (including keyboardist George Duke, trombonist Bruce Fowler, flutist Napoleon Murphy Brock, bassist Tom Fowler, drummers Ralph Humphrey and Chester Thompson and percussionist Ruth Underwood) through some of Zappa’s most challenging and rewarding music. This takes place on Wednesday, October 14th, and special guests have been promised!)

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Last night’s schedule also included a free screening of In Search Of The Ultra-Sex, from directors Nicolas Charlet and Bruno Lavaine, who created a new film from scenes culled from more than 2500 X-rated late-’70s /early-’80s pornos, making a brand new inappropriate, outrageous and explicit new sci-fi comedy. The notes tell us that the storyline concerns a group of astronauts above Earth, “watching in horror as a global pandemic fills everyone on the planet with consuming lust. The astronauts discover that the sexual matrix of the Universe known as Ultra Sex has gone missing – and they have only one chance to discover where it is and save Earth from an endless orgy. In French with English subtitles.”

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As you might expect, this trailer for In Search Of The Ultra-Sex is NSFW:

The film festival is being described as “bursting at the seams with off-kilter discoveries that are by turns demented, badass and always provocative.” 

Chris reminded us “there will also be a number of west coast premieres, including Takashi Miike’s hellzapoppin, hilarious and horrific Yakuza Apocalypse: Great War of the Underground, plus a salute to the late great Wes Craven with a double feature of Nightmare on Elm Street and The Serpent and The Rainbow, with star Robert Englund in-person, along with other guests.” Indonesian martial arts beast Yayan Ruhian, known stateside for The Raid series, stars in Yakuza Apocalypse.The Wes Craven tribute is on Sunday, October 11th.

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Go here for the Beyond Fest full schedule. Here are some more highlights of the festival:

Future screenings include the 40th anniversary screening on Saturday, October 10th, of the classic Dog Day Afternoon (Brett Ratner will be in conversation with Al Pacino at the screening), and director Savage Steve Holland will be present along with cast members (including John Cusack) from the cult classic Better Off Dead. The 30th anniversary reunion screening will hosted by comedians Kumail Nanjiani and Jonah Ray of Comedy Central’s “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail.”

Tuesday, October 6th, there will be a west coast premiere of the western-horror hybrid Bone Tomahawk (director S. Craig Zahler and actor Matthew Fox will be in attendance, and the film features Kurt Russell), and Wednesday, October 7th, will see the west coast premiere of He Never Died (Henry Rollins in a leading role as a cannibal on a revenge kick) will be followed by a discussion with director Jason Krawczyk and Rollins too, moderated by, of all people, artist Shepard Fairey.

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Tomorrow night, Monday, October 5, director Karyn Kusama (she directed Girlfight and Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama returns to L.A. with festival favorite The Invitation, one of the most anticipated new films at this year’s Beyond Fest. Kusama and writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, and actor Logan Marshall-Green will be in attendance to speak between screenings of their new film and a screening of the 1978 film Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Writer-director Dennis Hauck also discusses his new neo-noir, Too Late.

We recently posted Chris D.’s preview of Ken Russell’s X-rated and rarely seen film The Devils, which screens on October 8th, and that same evening Ninja from Die Antwoord (and “friends”) presents a night of black and transgression with David Lynch’s cult classic Eraserhead.

According to the program notes, this year also includes numerous free programs in the adjoining Spielberg Theatre, rechristened the Shudder Theatre after the online video service, whose sponsorship makes these screenings possible. Along with some homegrown horror (February, starring Kiernan Shipka and Emma Roberts, which screens tomorrow night, Oct. 6), several wild new films make their west coast premiere from all around the world, including Germany (Der Bunker, German Angst), Denmark (Men & Chicken, starring Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen), France (Rabid Dogs), Japan (Assassination Classroom), China (SPL 2: A Time For Consequences) and the United Arab Emirates (Zinzana, aka Rattle the Cage).”

The west coast premiere of Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s acclaimed martial arts epic The Assassin closes Beyond Fest this year. It’s the latest film from revered Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao-Hsien, and has been consistently lauded since premiering at Cannes this year.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.