Spooky Soundtracks: The Beyond

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It’s finally October, a month best known for bloodshed, candy stuffed with razor blades, and scaring all of the little kids on the block shitless. As we inch ever closer to All Hallows’ Evening your resident mustache bear thought it would be fun to go through some of his favorite horror movie scores. Wear a costume, pass out treats, don’t blow out any jack-o-lanterns, check your candy, and hold on to your butts: It’s Spooky Soundtrack time.

As we slink our way closer to the holiday based on John Carpenter’s smash hit film Halloween, I thought it was time to bring up one of the more fun and prodigious pairings in Italian schlock cinema. I am of course referring to director Lucio Fulci and composer Fabio Frizzi. Their’s is a partnership that includes movies such as Zombi 2 (or Zombie if you’re ‘Murican), The Psychic, City of the Living Dead and Cat in the Brain. While all of those films are great enough, or at least strange enough, to warrant watching in their own right there is one that towers over the rest like Santa over his elves. Today we talk about The Beyond.

The Beyond is, quite frankly, a masterpiece of batshit insanity and beautiful musical composition. The story is that of a woman who wants to reopen a hotel in New Orleans that secretly houses one of the seven gates to hell…and that’s about it. Fulci himself said he wanted to explore more surrealistic avenues and wanted to tell more of a non linear ghost story where the only real plot elements were the aforementioned woman, hotel and gate to hell. Fulci instead wanted the focus to be placed on the imagery. The movie uses haunting scenes of eye gouging and devourment via tarantula to elicit response in the stead of story beats and plot twists and rarely lets up on the violence or weirdness. It’s quite the head trip of a splatter film and Frizzi’s score acts as a glue of sorts.

Unlike some other Italian scores at the time, the score for The Beyond is much more cohesive and less scattershot in regards to variety, save for the strange jazzy lounge track that is necessary in every Italian horror film. Much like a regular album almost all of the tracks are in a similar vein, but never quite repeat themselves. The absolutely chilling main theme is an exception that rears its head in a more coked out form much later before returning to its crawling, creepy glory.

That’s the stuff, yea? Now there are two things that I really think help push The Beyond’s soundtrack into the upper echelon of creepy noises heard in the background of scary moving pictures: The use of a choir and that fat, juicy bass. As the soundtrack really starts to get going you’ll hear songs drowned with eerie chants and melodies, as if Frizzi had summoned every Gregorian monk ever damned to come forth and chant the horrors of hell over discordant keys and thunderous bass lines. Oh, those bass lines. They add a really nice punch and sense of impending terror underneath all of the dramatics of the keys and vocals, each thump pushing a bit closer to the next eye gouging.

My favorite track, though, is closer Sequenza ritmica e tema which is probably Italian for something cool. This track sounds more like something you’d hear while killing hellspawn in Doom than anything else heard so far. It opens with a funktastic bass riff that is quickly overlaid with a warped synth lead line that lends a sense of desperation to the track. It’s some truly final boss type stuff that works great within the film.

I’ve listened to this soundtrack for the last 3 days in a row. It has burrowed its way into my brain as effectively as those tarantulas eating that poor bastard.  The movie really isn’t for everyone. It’s incredibly bizarre and seemingly random, but the soundtrack as a standalone works. It manages to tell its own story without visual accompaniment and may leave you more uneasy than the film itself. Check it out, with or without the film, and you won’t regret it.

Think the Frizzi 2 Fulci connection made a better score? Sound off in the comments and tell me I’m not alone in hating spiders eating people. 

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  • Scrimm

    Must confess as much of a horror nut as I am, I kinda hate this movie except for the very end.

    • That ending is fucking awesome! So many awesome shots in the movie.

      http://img221.imageshack.us/img221/3263/beyond06.jpg

      • Scrimm

        Actually been meaning to revisit, been several years. Maybe I’ll feel different about it.

        • There are some pretty terrible moments in the movie but the good definitely make up for the bad.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Co-signed in a big way

        • KJM, Shake Zula

          Make sure to see the recent Grindhouse Films blu-ray version if you can.

          • Got it!

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Dave Szulkin, guitarist for Blood Farmers, works for Grindhouse Films. I’m not sure what he does there, but if you post anything Blood Farmers related on Twitter, you’ll get a fave from Grindhouse.

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      Do you like weird Eurotrash stuff in general? Outside of those terms it doesn’t have a lot going for it other than the score and the odd nice visual.

      • Scrimm

        Selective with it. Love Argento, but everything else is a little spotty for me. Fulci especially for some reason.

        • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

          Argento and Mario Bava were about the only seriously talented of the Italian horror crowd. I think Fulci’s work pre Zombie Flesh Eaters is up there with the best of the rest, but he lost the plot when he got popular for gore. I like almost everything, mind, but I don’t have illusions about it.

          • Scrimm

            I would agree with that

    • KJM, Shake Zula

      It’s my favorite Fulci movie.

  • Hail to the The Godfather Of Gore Lucio Fulci!!!!!

    http://i.imgur.com/IUfeFrF.gif

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      You ever see Don’t Torture a Duckling? One of his earlier ones, only a couple of particularly gruesome bits but its a serious minded, disturbing and socially critical piece you’d never expect to come from the same guy. Probs my favourite of his alongside House by the Cemetery.

      • Don’t Torture a Duckling is one Fulci film I have yet to see.

        • sweetooth0

          Definitely worth a look. It’s good times. More of a giallo than straight up horror though.

      • sweetooth0

        It is excellent. I really like the scene where they whip the chick to death with chains because the music they put on a ghetto blaster while they do it just seems to work so well. Just like the jammin’ tunes in Torso when the killer does his thing.

    • Mvthvr Shvbvbv 8

      This is one of the most brutal things I have seen.

    • more beer

      I saw that in the theater when it came out. It was really sick on the big screen.

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
    • More death from Indiana ay? Killer.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Indeed. The upload for this EP is crap though. The songs fade out too soon.

  • Scrimm
    • The first film is hard to find. It’s not on Netflix and the DVD is not easy to find either. Where can I find this movie Tall Man. I have the second one.

      • Scrimm

        Jesus I just say how expensive it has gotten, and that dvd sucks anyways. you need to hunt down the older one(the one in the link) it is much better in the special features dept. Bullshit on the price, I found it twice at my locals record store for 7 bucks. Too bad i gave my spare to a bandmate, I would have sent it to you. Pretty sure blu rays are coming soon, probably whenever the hell they decide to release Ravager.

        • Damn, I might as well just wait it out then. I see the second one is available on blu ray now. I may have to get on that.

          • Scrimm

            It’s a good version, worth the money. The reason it is the only one out is its owned by one company and the rest are another, much like the Halloween series, but coincidentally it’s the same too companies that teamed up to put out that box set so I think it’s likely Phantasm will get the same treatment. Coscarelli wouldn’t confirm this when asked at the panel I saw him on, but he was dropping huge hints that something like that is in the works.

          • Excellent. Thanks.

      • Oily Kung Fu Bologna Riot

        The library. Oddly enough, that’s how I found Black and Lea, which are fuck near impossible to find online (with subtitles at least).

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Great post, I like being helped to pay more attention to film scores because I’m not that hot on it outside of more obvious tunes. The film itself is hampered significantly by several scenes going the full on graphic route with frankly cack FX work, for that alone its the least of Fulci’s zombie quartet. But its still a box of bonkers delights.

  • I love horror movies but I never watch them. I need a horror/gore buddy

    • u need a horror/gore ‘n chill buddy who is female

      • …and understands his obsession with “swords”.

      • JWEG

        Everyone does.

        There’s a business idea in here somewhere. And not just the questionably-legal version.

      • I have one but she’s like 45 min away. The chill is literal, we are there to laugh at the gorey parts and make fun of the characters and nothing else.

        • “I am a warrior my mind is set to kill
          Life or death is on the line
          I am a slayer and you will taste my steel
          I’ve got your life right in my hand”

          I Am A Viking, Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985

          • Based Potoo

            U having a Yngwie Mamlsteen psychosis today?

          • listening to the record, bro!

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I don’t get Malmsteen. How is he popular? He’s just like all the other shredders who have no emotion in their music.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            It’s because he jumped on the craze very early.

          • disagree!

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I do like that he had Michael Vescera sing for him as his work with Loudness was underrated. I just consider his guitarwork is based too much on speed and not emotion. That’s why I enjoy guitarists like Uli Jon Roth and Jimi Hendrix. They made music that while not technical was jam packed with the ability to make me feel what they were feeling.

          • That is fair. I think the disconnect lies in the difference between what Yngwie considers “emotional” playing and the causal listener considers “over the top wankery.” To the normal person it is all shred, to him it is just normal. I am stretching too far?

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            You’re not stretching it too far. That makes a lot of sense.

          • Based Potoo

            He’s also Swedish. That alone is a huge problem!

          • The only thing I know about the Swedish, is that they like to fish.

            http://www.candywarehouse.com/assets/item/large/swedish-fish-candy-131761-im.jpg

          • more beer

            They also used to be very good at making porn.

          • Crazy Swedish people, they have no eyebrows and are very eloquent.

          • they maek good furniture

          • ’cause of his ride

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            What ride?

        • Óðinn

          Yeah, watching horror movies sometimes turns into a live performance of MST3K.

          • more beer

            Some dude in New Mexico was binge watching The Walking Dead last week. He killed his friend in a particularly violent and bloody way. Because he said he was turning into a zombie. That sounds like a live performance to me.

          • Óðinn

            Sounds like bath salts.

          • more beer

            Nah they said he was drinking.

      • Óðinn

        You’ve just made the only valid argument I’ve ever heard for watching horror films.

  • KJM, Shake Zula

    Great soundtrack to a brilliant movie. Even without all the blood n guts, this would still be an excellent film.

  • JWEG

    I slightly prefer the soundtrack to City of the Living Dead. I may also slightly prefer that film, though I feel like I ought to have a mini Fulci marathon to be more certain.

    I must say though, getting the Arrow Video (region free) Blu-Ray of The Beyond a few years ago was way worthwhile compared to waiting for a North American distributor to release it (there is one – it’s sub-par by comparison).

    • KJM, Shake Zula

      You should check out the recent Grindhouse Films blu-ray release. It just came out last year.

      • JWEG

        That’s the one: still good, but Arrow is a top notch version even by comparison. Especially the steelbook edition due to the extra presentation.

  • any of you rascals happen to catch Bone Tomahawk? it was a pretty good film, and it gets better the more i think about it! there are some gory fuckin’ scenes in it

    • ME GORAK B.C.™

      GORAK MAKE BONE TOMAHAWK, BUT NOT SEE MOOVEE…

    • Scrimm

      YOU SAW IT BEFORE ME!! DOWNVOTED

  • Oily Kung Fu Bologna Riot

    Misread that one part as ‘don’t blow any jack-o-lanterns’. There went all my Halloween plans that don’t involve flaming bags of poop.

  • Related: I am not a huge Yngwie Malmsteen fan, but I am a big fan of his first two albums. On his second album (Marching Out), there is a song called Disciples of Hell. It is fairly “spooky” by Halloween standards. Given it a listen!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BqudwP9q0s

    Also, check out the whole album. It is by far the most listenable of his material.

    GL

    • KJM, Shake Zula

      This is the only song of his I liked for obvious reasons.

      • The whole album is pretty catchy. All 11 tracks are stand out in my book.

      • is it a Dopethrone cover? =P

        • KJM, Shake Zula

          huehuehue

  • Holy guacamole! That first song is creepy as fuck!

    • KJM, Shake Zula

      The whole soundtrack is excellent except for the brief “jazz” interlude. Fabio Frizzi performs this stuff live occasionally. He’s on Twitter if you want to find out more.

      • Cool, thanks for the shot out, friendo.

      • Leif Bearikson

        I was bummed to learn about the Frizzi 2 Fulci live shows after they had already passed. Mondo did a double LP of those shows that I was looking at picking up.

  • Wish I could watch more horror flicks. Gotta do it while the wife and kids are asleep so nobody has nightmares.

  • dr.derelict

    This movie fucked me up as a kid, and likely contributed to my dereliction. Haven’t seen it in 20 years. Must find a copy by Halloween.

  • Eliza

    The soundtrack to the anime Hugurashi no naku koro ni is pretty amazing. The show is a very interesting blend of mystery and horror that may confuse you, but the nevertheless keep you on you the edge of you seat, waiting to find out what is going on exactly. The OST is some of the best atmospheric I have ever heard. (Sorry for being weeb trash)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PLBCFD2691CC921DE2&v=wp8LZcFZ0mo