BLOG Ryan Davies

NWR Issue 112

The Beyond: Composer's Cut

On 19 November 2016, the Aberystwyth Arts Centre welcomed Fabio Frizzi and the ‘Frizzi 2 Fulci’ band as part of Abertoir, Wales’ national horror festival. Live, they performed a new score for the film The Beyond, during a screening which marked the twentieth anniversary of director Lucio Fulci’s death.

Frizzi and the band appeared on the stage, with him jokingly apologising for turning his back to the audience while taking the composer’s seat. From this position, he became the medium of the evening’s events, masterfully channelling audio and visual sensations from the stage to our seats. The opening credits were simultaneously accompanied by the first foreboding notes of a synthesized keyboard, juxtaposed by the cheering crowd. The soundtrack had been one of Frizzi’s most acclaimed scores, and now thirty-five years later, we were treated to a modern progressive-rock interpretation.

Souls were stirred by the haunting vocal choruses, the blood-pumping bass, and the thumping drum which pounded like a beating heart, adding to the rising tension. During the opening sequence of the film, we see a mob silently confront and then violently murder a painter they believe to be evil. The drum cymbals crash into motion while the harmonies combine to reach a crescendo as the painter is whipped with chains. The guitar breaks free as high-pitched strings scream along with images of crucifixion and frenzied torture, reflecting the menace which lies behind the melody.

Fulci was known as the ‘Godfather of Gore’, a title justified by The Beyond, which attracted a large cult following, evident today through tonight’s attendance. Some were undoubtedly already huge horror fans, while others were soaking it all in for the first time. One fan, director Quentin Tarantino, cited the film and Fulci as a major source of inspiration, and in 1998 his ‘Rolling Thunder Pictures’ re-released the film to cinema and on DVD.

The Beyond follows a woman who moves from New York to Louisiana with plans to renovate and open a hotel, one which happens to be built upon a gateway to hell. Naturally, this results in her accidentally raising the dead. The Lovecraftian plot even includes a mysterious book, Eibon, which features within the Cthulhu mythos. In the film, however, narrative takes a back seat in favour of symbolism and shocking the audience with extreme gore.

A surreal atmosphere was present within the theatre as the audience cheered at the climax of each gruesome death. The positivity this created made it difficult to resist participating after watching a man’s face torn apart by tarantulas, and then an Alsatian maul its blind owner to death. The murder which received the most acclamation was the shooting of a possessed girl. I felt as though this was the true spirit of Abertoir manifesting itself within me as I applauded not just for the gore, but for the love of seeing horror executed skilfully, complemented by the amazing score performed exclusively for us.

The final act features an exciting and intense zombie shoot-out set in a hospital, included because of the popularity of zombie films across Europe at the time. This was implemented expertly by Fulci, who had already experimented with the trend in his Zombi 2. In the finale, the two protagonists are left with no choice but to traverse though the gateway to hell. The surreal twist is that they find themselves trapped within an eerie landscape, previously depicted throughout the film in an evil painting.

After the credits, Frizzi faced the audience and treated us to a few more songs, the electric guitarists standing to play in rock-gig style! They performed three songs they had played last week in London, one of which was a cover of ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ by King Crimson, complete with mellotron and flute solos. Afterwards, they put down their instruments and bowed to thunderous applause.

Ryan Davies is an Aberystwyth-based blogger currently studying Creative Writing.

       


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