Beyond the Darkness (1979)
By: CJ on July 30, 2002  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Shriek Show (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0 Mono. 91 minutes
The Movie
Director: Joe D'Amato
Starring: Kieran Canter, Cinzia Monreale, Franca Stoppi
Screenplay: Ottavia Fabbri
Music: Goblin
Country: Italy
AKA: Buio Omega; Blue Holocaust; Buried Alive; The Final Darkness; In quella casa... buio omega
**This Review Contains Possible Spoilers**

Another slice of Italian sleaze 'n' horror from the sure hand of Joe D'Amato - and you know with dear old Joe at the helm that you are going to have a grand old time.

The story is very simple and tells of a young man, Francesco (Kieran Canter), whose lover (Cinzia Monreale - familiar to viewers of Fulci's The Beyond) dies. We are led to believe that this is due to dodgy voodoo practised by the housekeeper, played to weird perfection by Franca Stoppi. Determined to forever be united with her, he exhumes the body (of course he does - doesn't everyone?) and embalms her so that she may remain with him without going all yucky and gooey on him. It's also handy that he just so happens to be a taxidermist (Good job he wasn't a carpenter, eh? He might have turned her into a cupboard.), so that helps matters somewhat. However, unbeknownst to Francesco, he has attracted the suspicions of the local mortician, which will ultimately be his downfall. Aside from going completely mad, that is, which doesn't really help either. Anyway, the film continues as Francesco starts bringing girl's home with him and then dispatching them in gruesome fashion when they displease him, usually by discovering his morbid secret. The first girl - an English girl - he strangles and then he and his housekeeper (who by now is complicit in his madness) dismember her corpse and dispose of her remains in an acid bath. Nasty stuff indeed. Things continue in this vein until in a bizarre twist his lover's twin sister (again played by Cinzia Monreale) turns up having heard the news of her sister's death. This sends Francesco completely over the edge and so we reach the suitably messy climax with dead bodies strewn about, eyes ripped out and all manner of bloodiness abounds.

This is a fine effort from D'Amato (one of the many pseudonyms adopted by Aristide Massaccesi) and is certainly one of the better examples of Italian horror cinema. Throughout it's running time it takes in disembowelment; dismemberment; eye-gouging; necrophilia; acid baths; people being incinerated alive; a pounding Goblin score; and an abundance of full-frontal nudity - albeit mostly from the cadavers. This is a really sick movie if you analyse its components, but taken as a whole this is a truly sleazy (if horrible) delight. Some may find the pacing a bit slow, but this is deliberate and creates a great moody atmosphere.

This film will not be to everyone's taste, but if it is, you're in for a treat. Blood and sex - what more recommendation do you need? So once again, head down to that dank and dark corner of the video store (resist the Blockbusters as you walk past them) and grab yourself a copy of this. A truly amazing film with some outrageous themes and set pieces, it's well worth checking out.
The transfer is very good with rich colours and consistency and no visible artefacting. The print itself looks in very good shape and certainly drew no complaints from this reviewer. It's doubtful this will ever look any better than it does on this disc. Top work from Shriek Show.
A no-frills English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono is all that's on the disc. But it's perfectly acceptable and reproduced the Goblin score quite well. There were no noticeable audio problems with the soundtrack and it is perfectly adequate.
Extra Features
Once again Shriek Show deliver the goods regarding extras. There are 4 trailers for Solange, House on the Edge of the Park, Seven Bloodstained Orchids and the original trailer for Beyond the Darkness/Buio Omega. Next up is an audio interview with art director Donatella Donati (though he claims he wasn't the art director, just to confuse matters). This interview is, quite frankly, dull and boring and I found myself skipping through it before tedium set in. Then we come to the on-camera interview with Cinzia Monreale, who looks every inch as good today as she did back then (better, in fact IMO - and deserves a place in the Horror Hottie Hall of Fame). This is a whole lot more entertaining than the previous interview and proves herself to be a very friendly and charismatic personality. She talks candidly on a varying range of subjects, and never seems reticent to answer, especially when discussing the nude scenes she has done. An enjoyable interview and well worth watching. Finally, there are 2 Picture galleries, the first is a stills gallery of photo's and artwork from Beyond the Darkness/Buio Omega and the second is sort of hidden on the second page of the scene selection menu. This gallery consists of poster art from D'Amato's more, shall we say, 'erotic' works. It's an entertaining journey through the works of D'Amato and some of the film titles will raise a smile or two.
The Verdict
This is certainly an astounding film and in the opinion of this reviewer is well worth owning. As to whether it's a good film, well, that's up to viewer discretion really. Some will love it - others will hate it. That's just the way it is with films like this. If you dig Italian horror 'n' sleaze, then this is most definitely for you. If you're looking for something a little different, take a gamble and give it a go. You never know - you may like it! Highly recommended.
Movie Score
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