Judge Daryl Loomis is haunted by the ghosts of his teachers, who stick around to remind him that he's a disappointment.
He was just copying what he saw.
Italian horror fans know the name of Lucio Fulci (House By the Cemetery) almost as well as they do the masters Mario Bava and Dario Argento, even if he wasn't nearly the director either of those two were. Still, even most fans focus exclusively on his splatter movies that genuinely do take gore to a new level. But they aren't the best example of his skill. Really, he was at his best making mysteries, especially with his early Don't Torture a Duckling or A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, both solid gialli that are as good as anything in the genre. The crappy ending of his career has been rightly forgotten, but right before he died, Fulci returned to his roots one final time with Voice from Beyond, which while not his best work, is a solid mystery.
The only person sad about the death of businessman Giorgio Mainardi (Dullo del Prete, Panama Sugar) is his estranged daughter, Rosy (Karina Huff, The House of Clocks), who has returned from the funeral. There's something about the whole situation she finds fishy. One, everyone seems so coldly pleased that her dad is dead, but more than that, her father's ghost has come back to plead with her to find his real cause of death, which he is sure is murder. So with the help of a friend and the advice of a ghost, she must maneuver through her family politics to figure out what really happened.
Now, Voices from Beyond is not prime Fulci, not by a long shot. But when comparing it to what he was making around this time, such as the absolutely wretched Demonia, it's a reminder of the talent he once displayed. The mystery is pretty standard-issue, but it's enticing enough to keep the story going. The ghostly voice delivering all the exposition is totally silly, and the resolution comes as absolutely no surprise, but the movie has its moments.
It's definitely a mystery more than a horror movie, much closer to Duckling than to The Beyond, but Fulci knew where his bread was buttered and doesn't hesitate to toss in the goopy stuff, even if it's inappropriate for the movie. It starts with Giorgio, in his death throes, coughing up buckets of blood, but continues into more wild business with dreamy child murders and straight up zombies. None of it makes any sense and the performances are poor all over the place, but there are plenty of solid laughs to be found in Voices from Beyond.
Code Red sent a screener DVD for review, and I would hope that the retail product fares better than this bare bones affair. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image has a fair bit of dirt on the print and looks a little worse for wear given its relatively young age. Colors look decent, though, and black levels are fairly deep, so it's not all bad. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix is average at best, with flat sound that doesn't have anything special going for it. There are no extras, not even a menu.
Voices from Beyond is far from classic Fulci, but given what else he was making in his waning years, it almost feels like it. The acting has its issues and the mystery isn't exactly hard to solve, but it's executed pretty well and the zombie setpieces, while totally out of place, are as fun as the old days. Recommended to Italian horror fans, but not much else.
Surprisingly, case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Code Red
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