Beyond The Darkness (1979)

DVD Cover (Shriek Show)
Genres: Horror, Sex Horror, Thriller
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Joe D'Amato Joe D'Amato
Kieran Canter Kieran Canter
Cinzia Monreale Cinzia Monreale
Franca Stoppi Franca Stoppi
Sam Modesto Sam Modesto
Anna Cardini Anna Cardini

6.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Tristan
Added: November 20, 2007
Straying away from his successful Emanuelle films, director Joe D'Amato quickly moved into exploitation horror in the late 70's and early 80's with ease. While not as popular as Anthropophagus, Beyond the Darkness came out roughly a year before it, and was D'Amato's first true horror film. For those of you who've read my Anthropophagus review, you're aware that I loved it, and these are my favourite types of movies; Italian exploitation that serves no purpose other than to give the audience a little T'n'A, and some raunchy death scenes. May sound ridiculous to some people, but I live for this schlock.

When Frank (Kieran Canter) the taxidermist's girlfriend, Anna, (Cinzia Monreale) unexpectedly dies in the hospital the usual ceremonies take place. A wake, a funeral, and you'd expect that to be all. This isn't the case however, as we find out that Anna actually died because of incestuous Aunt Iris' (Franca Stoppi) efforts to make Frank completely alone except for her. If that isn't weird enough, she used a series of voodoo methods to do away with Frank's lover. Stranger still, before the service, Frank injected his dead love's corpse with a preserving liquid. He then returns later that night, digs up her body, and takes her home with him.

On the way, he quite accidentally picks up an English, pothead hitchhiker who passes out in his van. He leaves her there however, and starts performing the same techniques on Anna's corpse that he would on that of an animals. When the hitchhiker comes to, she stumbles upon his little operation and tries to get the hell out of Dodge. Unfortunately for her, and lucky for us, Frank catches up to the hitchhiker and makes short order of her in a pretty gruesome fashion. After dragging her out of the workshop, he dumps her in the back of his van, and calls it a night.

The next day a friend of his visits, and says he has a man with him who is interested in a piece of his work. The man he is referring to is actually the funeral home director, who sneaks into Frank's workplace to investigate the disappearance of Anna's body. He looks in the back of the van, and finds nothing there but a small puddle of blood. Luckily for Frank, his aunt Iris had taken the liberty of storing the body somewhere safer. Deciding it's best to not have any more evidence lying around then needed, they hack up the body and throw it in a tub full of some kind of acid. This is a very well done scene, but it also has one of the lamest blood squirt effects I think I've ever seen. For those of you who've seen this, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. So to make a long story short, Frank keeps murdering young women to vent his anger, all the while the funeral director is snooping around, looking for clues to pin this whole thing on Frank.

The best part of this movie, without question, was the soundtrack. While it was repetitive at times, the opening theme was fantastic, and used throughout the film and added wonderfully to the suspenseful scenes. Oh, and did I mention it was Goblin? Yeah, it was. So by default you should know it's a great score.

While this movie wasn't really what I expected, it still entertained the hell out of me. You can't scrutinize these kinds of films the same way you would an American or British film. It's an entirely different style of film making over there, and if you can get past the mediocre acting and usually cheesy storyline, you're in for a good movie. Most of them are held together by a series of gory and violent scenes, and then the gaps are filled in with dialogue and pretty boring stuff. This wasn't the case with this movie, as the in between stuff was actually interesting, and it really had something going for it besides the shock factor. For that, I'll have to give it a decent rating.

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