Despite his shortcomings as a storyteller, Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci certainly had an eye for concocting entrancing supernatural imagery, a fact verified by 1981’s The Beyond. Long-heralded as the director’s masterpiece, the film is like a black magic tome illustrated with seductively creepy sights, from a panoramic vista of an automobile approaching a rigid figure standing in the center of a bridge, to an ominous painting of a desolate landscape pockmarked by half-buried bodies, to a sepia-toned intro in which villagers perform anti-warlock crucifixion. Shrouded in otherworldly mist, Fucli’s New Orleans locale has a velvety allure that nicely contrasts with the director’s trademark gore, here highlighted by a little blind girl’s exploding head, a seeing-eye dog’s rabid attack on its master, and a swarm of flesh-eating tarantulas. Yet atmosphere alone can’t keep this creaky pseudo-zombie flick from rapidly decaying into confusing, derivative tedium. The plot concerns a woman (Katherine MacColl) who inherits a rundown Nawlins hotel, only to learn – just as its previous owners did before being lynched in the 1920s – that the building also stands as one of seven gateways to Hell. And when he’s not wantonly aping (for no apparent purpose) Dario Argento’s obsession with eyes, Fulci is unfortunately filling his wooden actors’ mouths with stilted dialogue and spending an unholy eternity building to a familiar climax in which the slow-footed dead walk the Earth.