My Stunt Fall to a Bloody Death, First to Die From the Deadly Zombie Gaze - Rare Production Photos
UPDATE Feb 2014 - Grindhouse Releasing in Los Angeles has acquired distribution rights for "The Beyond" and has restored the original color Techniscope negatives in 1080p Digital format for theater showings and on BluRay on a new DVD in the widescreen format. "The Beyond" has developed an international cult following for this ultimate splatter film directed by Lucio Fulci, Italy's Alfred Hitchcock. It is shown, often in special midnight showings, in theaters across the USA. Fans are eagerly awaiting this new complete and high quality release to see Fulci's classic in Grindhouse's incredible restoration.
The releasing company specializes in classic "B" and horror films and was formed in 1996 by Academy Award Winning Hollywood film editor, Bob Murawski and partner Sage Stallone, son of Sylvester Stallone. After Sage's startling heart attack and death, July 13, 2013 at age 39, Bob Murawski continues to manage Grindhouse Releasing and plans international release in theaters as well as on BluRay DVD of the new digitally restored version of the Fulci classic in 2014. The DVD will also contain special "extras" including interviews with cast and crew filmed in Europe including a special interview with London actor, David Warbeck, star of "The Beyond" just weeks before he died.
I was delighted and honored when Bob and his Hollywood editor wife, Chris, also an Oscar winner for her editing on "The Hurt Locker" among many other major films, traveled from Los Angeles to my home in South Mississippi with noted cinematographer, Peter Santoro to film an interview with me to be included on the new BluRay DVD. I will update this post when the new restored digital version of "The Beyond" is released!
The illustration above is one of about a dozen montage graphics for DVD case art, posters and other promotional material used over the years for the 1980 horror film, much of which was filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana. The production still below, shot during filming, is a close up of Cinzia Monreale with those living-dead milky blank eyes seen in the illustration above. She was a real trooper to undergo the application of the dual contact lenses which effectively made her blind. A large soft contact lens was first applied, then using a tiny suction cup, Maurizio Trani, head of makeup, applied the streaked, whitish hard contact lens placing it over the soft contact. It was this ghoulish gaze that knocked the house painter character, which I played, off the scaffolding and to his death, the first of many to die from the killer stare from those eyes.
I just noticed after looking at my collection of production stills for the first time in years that in this forward fall, I still have the paintbrush in my hand!
The snapshots below show the forward and backward falls into the bounce bag which I did for several takes. In one of them, photo lower left, my son, David, who was a grip on the shoot, is watching the tight cut-in being shot up on the scaffold platform where I do a partial "fall" as my foot slips off. My hand was actually being tightly held for several takes to keep me from really falling off. He thought it was a real fall and that I was going to miss the end of the bag! The toughest scene was the overhead shot of me hitting the ground which required me to actually jump from the second or third step of a stepladder and hit a specific mark on the dirt, then roll my head just right while biting down on a blood capsule making 'blood' run from the corner of my mouth. They did several takes of this scene, and I was aching all over the next day from hitting the ground repeatedly. My fellow painter, for the record, was an Urban Studies professor at Dillard University in New Orleans whom I cast along with all the other extras.
First to die from Zombie Gaze:
(Two minutes long, from Italian version . . .)
Lots of fun memories recalled from the fading photos of more than 30 years ago. This is a montage of setup shots for my blood-gurgling death scene on the sofa. This is the scene where I madly scream the lines, "The eyes! The eyes!" (in the Italian overdub, "Gli occhi! Gli occhi!") Gallons of blood seemingly pour from my mouth but it actually came from a hidden plastic tube with a big rubber squeeze bulb full of blood being squeezed on cue!
In the two bottom photos in the montage above the late British actor and leading man in "The Beyond," David Warbeck, checks my eye, which I rolled upward exposing just the white bottom of my eye making it look like it had been zombie-zapped. In between takes, David and I ham it up, mugging for the location still photographer.
Horror films can be really messy. Before the infamous sofa scene, makeup specialists painted on my bruises, added lots of blood and threw on special theatrical makeup "dirt." All this was added after my scene hitting the ground! British actress, Catriona MacColl, who played Lisa, the female lead, and I have a sip of something between takes. I had recovered fully and am back in my assistant to the producer coat and tie, but her sweater is all bloodied up for her next scene! Catriona has spent a lifetime acting in movies all over Europe. For a very interesting 2010 nine minute video of Catriona talking about working with director Lucio Fulci, on the three horror films she did with him as well as working in French horror films, CLICK HERE.
Here is an inside story of a real challenge . . . for me to find a dog double for the German Shepherd being used in Rome for scenes to be shot over here. He was to be used as a guide dog for the mysterious blind girl, Emily, played by Cinzia Monreale. We found one, a trained explosive sniffer dog for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's office, who was a perfect double for his counterpart in Rome. He was a real trooper and became accustomed to the guide dog harness in a matter of days. He and Cinzia bonded right off the bat and he was not bothered at all by the chaos and confusion of production. He worked right on cue from locations like walking down the middle of the closed and empty 24 mile long Pontchatrain Causeway, to night scenes with the "blind" Emily disappearing into the foggy night. The dog in the story winds up . . . well watch the film. He turns out not to be Cinzia's eventual best friend!
Location shooting in the New Orleans French Quarter required lots of planning and coordination with the NOPD police detail on our payroll. I was the lone translator between extras, police, firemen, bankers. catering, hotel management and our producer, Fabrizio De Angelis and mercurial director, Lucio Fulci. So for major daytime and night time shooting in the French Quarter I had to be on location. In the photo on the left I am the tall guy in the knit sweater far right, talking to a police officer, in the yellow rain parka, wanting to know how much longer we are going to need the street closed. The spire of the St. Louis Cathederal is in the foggy background.
My son, David, wrestles with a pressured-up fire hose as the film crew sets up hood mounted lights and camera for the through-the-windshield shot of the Doctor driving madly through a deserted French Quarter at night! Streets are always hosed down real good for night shooting because it reflects the light to good effect. Making the French Quarter appear deserted at night cost us a pretty sum to pay off residents of the street we used and those at an intersection where we parked our generators and production trucks. The effect in the final cut of the movie is very good.
Director Lucio Fulci was mysterious in many ways, and his trademark gore and convoluted movie plots are legend. He insisted we use the 24 mile long twin causeway that we traveled almost every day from New Orleans to the Fairview Riverside state park and the Otis house where scenes for the first part of the film were shot. Fulci had written new scenes just for the causeway that literally goes off into "The Beyond." Amazingly in many meetings and numerous phone calls to the causeway commission we actually were able to do the unheard of, closing one side of the causeway for almost two hours for filming! The crew and cast worked at a steady but not rushed pace and we got all the scenes in the can in our allotted time.
As a side note for cult film buffs, Lucio Fulci used this photograph above of him sitting in his director's chair in total command of a 24 mile long causeway. This photo was used in an initial rough design of a promotional poster for his now infamous and banned horror film, "The New York Ripper." A photo of the rare original concept artwork for the working title, "The Ripper" is below. I got it while I was in Rome at De Paolis Studios for a couple of scenes with the film's amazing tarantula attack after shooting in New Orleans had wrapped up. One of the nicer critical comments about "The New York Ripper" came from Gordon Sullivan at DVD Verdict who wrote "The New York Ripper is hard to recommend because of the absence of anything besides its brutal violence, which many viewers will find repugnant."
I hope you have enjoyed this inside look at a small part of the making of "The Beyond," which continues to be a critically acclaimed cult favorite which even has its own Wilipedia page AT THIS LINK.