Lucio Fulci’s latter day efforts cop a lot of flak, even from some hardened fans. However, as I mentioned back in one of my first posts for Mondo Exploito, I really appreciate the final era of Fulci (which by my arbitrary judgement begins with Aenigma in ’87). There’s no denying there are stinkers present – Ghosts of Sodom (1988) is close to unwatchable – but these films hold a special place in the Fulci canon; their low budgets and hazy photography pushing them into an entirely new realm of weird. The best of Fulci’s final work is his penultimate effort: Voices from Beyond.
VOICES FROM BEYOND
original title: Voci dal profondo
Italy, 1991, Lucio Fulci
Back to reality, Giorgio Mainardi (Duilio Del Prete), the angry dad from the dream, is dying, internal hemorrhaging causing him to violently spew blood as he twitches in his hospital bed. The Mainardi family – the aforementioned Lucia, stepmother Hilde (Frances Nacman) and stepbrother Mario (Pascal Persiano) – watch with varying degrees of indifference as he takes his final breath.
Giorgio’s estranged daughter Rosy (Karina Huff) returns for the reading of Giorgio’s will, and, to her surprise, finds that everything has been left to her. It only gets stranger when her deceased father makes contact from beyond the grave encouraging Rosy to investigate the foul play involved in his death. Rosy begins to uncover a side of the rich Mainardi family that is hidden from the prying eyes of the public.
Voices from Beyond is a melodramatic affair, and with its hazy cinematography it strongly resembles an old Euro soap opera. Every now and then Fulci throws in a rotting corpse or an exploding eyeball to remind us who is in the director’s chair. Personally, I really dug this clash of genres. Even outside of the film’s many, many dream sequences, the schizophrenic style ensures that the film has a permanent demented dreamlike aura.
The dialogue, in tune with the soap opera leanings, is stiff, awkward and often very funny. Giorgio yelling, “Who is she?” repetitively while running in slow motion had me giggling hard, but the insults Del Prete spits at his family members are fabulous. The quotable highlight being when he discusses his stepbrother’s “stupid face”.
Fulci handles the film with his usual skill, albeit on a much tighter budget than what he was used to a decade prior. He employs a steady use of POV shots, which work wonders in the film’s flashback sequences. He also constantly returns to a grimly lit shot of Giorgio’s rotting corpse, and, while the film isn’t exactly high art, its musings on death seem apt considering it’s so close to the end of Fulci’s career and life. Fulci also casts himself in a fun and appropriately morbid cameo as a mortician.
Scenes are lit with bold colours and captured with smeared lenses. This foggy technique will appeal to some (me) and infuriate others. Similarly, depending on how you engage with the film’s style, the dream sequences will either have you grinning ear to ear, or rolling your eyes like a madman. A scene that stuck with me when I first saw Voices from Beyond as a teenager is this dream sequence, showcasing Fulci’s love of eye-destruction:
Voices from Beyond isn’t a particularly well liked entry in Fulci’s filmography, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s stiff and predictable, the characters are cartoonish, and Fulci often chooses to shoot Karina Huff from a low angle as if deliberately wanting to distort her features. It should be a bad film, but, strangely enough, I rank it right up there with my favourite Fulci films. Even after multiple viewings, it manages to hold my attention and put me in something of a smiley-faced trance. It’s not as wildly entertaining as other latter era Fulcis like Touch of Death (1988) or Cat in the Brain (1990), but it’s certainly the most interesting film he made in his final years.
I’m going to write a slightly longer piece in this section than I normally would considering that the reason I’m reviewing Voices from Beyond is that it was recently released on (unbelievably) blu-ray by Code Red DVD. I can’t even begin to tell you the excitement I felt when finding out that Code Red was putting this one out. I never thought I’d see it upgraded past my shoddy EC DVD. Code Red’s blu-ray is about as bare bones as it gets (it doesn’t even feature a menu), but the video quality is amazing – far, far better than I expected. It’s not perfect though. On some players the blu-ray won’t rewind, fast-forward or pause. Thankfully on mine I could at least pause it. If you can put up this admittedly frustrating issue, I would highly recommend grabbing a copy!