Beyond, The (aka Seven Doors of Death; tu vivrai nel terrore - L'aldilà) (1981)
A classic Lucio Fulci film. Not as well known as "Zombie/Zombi 2" but nearly as great. It combines black magic, portals to hell, and zombies. What more could you ask for?
Liza (Catriona MacColl, "City of the Living Dead") is the inheritess of the Seven Doors Inn. There are two creepy caretakers, a Dr. McCabe (David Warbeck, "The Black Cat"), and Joe the Plumber, who has a wife and daughter. A blind woman named Emily (Cinzia Monreale, "Stendhal's Syndrome") pops up in the middle of a highway and ends up staying at the Inn with her pooch.
In early 1900s Louisiana a mob in a nice sepia tone descends on the Seven Doors Inn to beat and kill an artist, since he's spooky and a warlock and such. Or maybe because he is just a spooky artist. So they beat him, crucify him a basement wall, and douse him with lye. Then they brick him up. He did have the "Book of Eibon", which is really scary because it is a Lovecraft book that pretty much guarantees death and destruction.
Fast forward to the 1980s. Liza inherits the Inn, which is just about 3 inches from falling down. The caretakers are useless, and maybe even just a tad bit evil. A worker doing some painting on the side of the Inn falls off the ladder due to spookiness from inside of a window. The Doc is summoned to take of him. A bit later Joe shows up to work on the flooding problem in the basement. While poking around he manages to disturb the corpse of the artist, who rips out his eyeballs. I guess the artist was evil.
The two corpses are found and sent to the hospital, where Doc just happens to also work. This sets up a great scene later with a huge container of acid, melting flesh, and a pool of (maybe acidic) blood. This is also when the zombies start showing up, so it becomes a three point play. (For soccer fans, that's like scoring a goal in a game.)
Believe it or not, this is when things really get weird. The Emily girl shows up spouting all kinds of arcane wisdom until her dog gets grouchy, a guy gets his eyes eaten by tarantulas, and either the entire world or just two people get sent to hell. I'm still not sure after several viewings. Actually I am still not sure about the whole second half of the film, which is part of its charm.
If you have only seen "Seven Doors of Death", you need to "The Beyond". "Doors" was a butchered cut of the original film. "The Beyond" has plenty of gore and violence. The sound EQ is way off at times. The visuals have the usual Fulci flair. There are both jump scares and creeping scares. The film lags in the middle, but the beginning and ending more than make up for that. Acting is nothing special. The music is nothing special, and sometimes annoying. While the ending doesn't 'wow' you, when you think about it, it is more of a 'oh, damn' ending.
Very good film, except for the above mentioned problems. I don't hold the plot weirdness against it; this is the type of film where weirdness is par for the course. Must rent, probable buy. Could be OK for parties, except for the slow middle (but a good time to pop some more popcorn!).