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'The Beyond' returns from the grave
June 12, 1998

Rejoice, horror film fans.

Lucio Fulci's gothic horror masterpiece, The Beyond (uncut, digitally
remastered and remixed with the original soundtrack) is back.

The classic will open Friday for exclusively midnight-madness shows in
theaters in seven cities: Boston, Austin, Denver, New York, Detroit,
Toronto and Los Angeles. The film will open in 15 more cities
throughout the summer.

Fulci is revered as one of the unholy trinity of Italian horror directors,
along with Dario Argento (Susperia, Inferno, Opera) and Mario Bava,
(Black Sabbath, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Blood and Black
Lace).

All three have been major influences of U.S. horror-flick directors Wes
Craven (the Screams, A Nightmare on Elm Street) and George
Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead).

Until now, Beyond was available only in grainy, third-generation
bootleg videos. The credit for the film's restoration and return goes to
Sage Stallone, the 22-year-old son of Sylvester Stallone.

''My father was never home when I was young, so I could get away
with watching movies like Fulci's Zombie,'' the young Stallone recalls.
''I would just send the handyman out for videos.''

At 15 he went to Italy and became friends with Argento, Bava and
Fulci, and returned a few years later to act in a film.

''I was there for six months, hanging out with Fulci a lot,'' he says. ''I
found out who had the rights to his movies, called the producer and
bought the rights.''

Beyond is the tale of a woman who inherits a New Orleans Victorian
hotel built on one of the ''seven dreaded gateways to hell.'' Naturally, it
comes with zombies, popping eyeballs, spiders and surreal acid flows.

The film was first released in the USA in the early '80s as Seven Doors
to Death.

''It had been cut, the original soundtrack had been thrown away, entire
sequences were thrown out,'' Stallone says. ''It was butchered.
Americanized. It was totally lame.''

Stallone spent two years in the restoration. Fulci died of complications
from diabetes last March, but Stallone says Fulci knew re-release was
imminent.

''He was thrilled. He was so excited,'' Stallone says. ''We had even
recorded his commentary to go on the laser-disc version.''

Getting the film distributed was the biggest challenge. In the end,
director Quentin Tarantino helped get Miramax's Rolling Thunder
Pictures and Cowboy Booking International interested.

Stallone is planning more restored releases of Italian horror and action
films. Noah Cohan, a partner in Cowboy Booking and founder of the
Midnight Madness program at the Toronto International Film Festival,
hopes to revive the midnight magic hour that launched such cult classics
as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Eraserhead and Repo Man.

''Things looked pretty bleak for a while,'' Cohan says, ''but the midnight
movie program is now luring a very young crowd.''

By Elizabeth Snead, USA TODAY

©COPYRIGHT 1998 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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