Eye For Film >> Movies >> Voices From Beyond (1994) Film Review
Voices From Beyond
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Who killed Giorgio Mainardi? He was a middle aged man, but fit and healthy, sill energetic enough to have a wife and a mistress, still shrewdly managing his business interests and keeping out rivals with their eyes on the family fortune. This is the stuff of pure soap opera, luridly hysterical Italian melodrama, but with a genre twist. The person most anxious to find out who killed Giorgio is Giorgio himself. Reaching out from beyond the grave through an impassioned voiceover, he begs his teenage daughter, "the only one I ever truly loved", to solve the mystery before his body decomposes and he loses his connection with the world.
Despite the complex web of relationships and alliances, despite the many secrets and betrayals of trust, there isn't really much story here. At this late stage in his career, director Fulci had perhaps given up the pretence that story was something he or his viewers were interested in. Instead he concentrates on what he does best - nudity and gore. The former seems curiously out of date, reflecting the comparatively innocent mores that applied at the height of his career; we see a lot of heaving bosoms, one naked man (from behind) and a soft focus sex scene, but it's tame by modern standards. It marks the film out as a historical curiosity, a late entry in an aging subgenre. The gore, however, is full-on Fulci fun. There's an autopsy, a lot of coughing up of blood, innards splattering everywhere. There are nightmares (or are they glimpses of Hell?) which include a brief return from some classic Fulci zombies who look like they haven't been dusted since they were haunting hotels in 1981. In other words, there's everything fans will be looking for.
The other thing that makes this film interesting is the sense that it is to some degree autobiographical. Made only two years before the director's death and dedicated, rather marvellously, "to my few true friends", it seems like a plea for understanding from a man who had gone through life making numerous enemies. If Fulci intended Giorgio as a cipher for himself, he doesn't try very hard to make the man likeable, but we do feel sympathy as we come to understand the hostile world within which he has been living. If nothing else, it's an effective gesture of defiance.
Despite the hammy acting and the shaky script, there are moments of real brilliance here, with a chase through woodland highlighting the director's mastery of focus and light. Beautifully framed shots of nonsensical speechmaking neatly sum up a career which too often saw this talent underappreciated. Voices From Beyond is far from Fulci's best work, but it's a must for his fans, and it has moments anybody with a fondness for horror will love.Reviewed on: 25 Oct 2010