★★★.5 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Joe D’Amato.
Come for the insane 1970s Italian gore! Stay for the superb Goblin soundtrack! It’s all here! Frankly, is there anything more you could ever ask from a horror film? Well, maybe.
Beyond the Darkness (AKA Buio Omega, Blue Holocaust, In Quella Casa) is a perfect slice of 1970s Italian horror fare. Plain and simple. It’s just as you’d expect from the perverse Joe D’Amato (Emanuelle’s Revenge, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, Antropophagus, and Porno Holocaust). Nudity, gore, a little more nudity, and a pile of brutal gore. No punches are pulled and no blood is left un-spilled.
But when your podcasting partner buys you the beautiful Death Waltz repressing on vinyl, it’s time to give Beyond the Darkness a second look and, more importantly, a second listen…
What’s striking about the film is a) the obvious, but twisted allegory to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, b) the amount of gore, necrophilia, and perversion that D’Amato was able to get away with, and c) how truly incredible the Goblin (or as they were credited, The Goblins) soundtrack sounds all these decades later.
Beyond the Darkness follows many of the same thoughtful metaphors as Frankenstein — love lost, man’s dominance over man, and they insatiable need to control life and the afterlife. The film follows Kieran Canter as Frank Wyler, a taxidermist who loses his fiancé to voodoo witchcraft at the hands of a very adult and decidedly middle-aged wet nurse, Iris (Franca Stoppi). Yes, this is just as gross as it sounds.
Frank decides to put his stellar taxidermy skills to use to give his now firmly dead fiancé a second chance at…life? Employing the assistance of his wet nurse (…again, still a very gross concept for an adult male) Frank exhumes his fiancé and sets out to maim, torture, and kill unsuspecting women to fulfill his unfulfilled desires.
Hot on Frank’s trail is a funeral home employee who’s on to Frank and Iris’ diabolical plans. As he slowly begins to pull apart their plans Frank’s needs become more vile and trashy. Frank is a man obsessed and much like Dr. Frankenstein, it’s his obsession that becomes his undoing.
As Frank and Iris both discover — much too late in the game — mortality is not to be trifled with and once a lover or family member is dead it’s best they remain dead. If Frankenstein was a cautionary tale about man’s insecurities with the afterlife, then Beyond the Darkness is a Greek tragedy about becoming sexually ensconced with your wet nurse as you’re sorting out the grief of your fiancé’s death. Call it…Frankenstein plus.
Make no mistake, Beyond the Darkness is the pinnacle of Italian trash. Each scene is unapologetically punctuated with nudity and gore. The thrill isn’t the fact that you know it’s coming, but that you have no idea what shape that it will take. This, coupled with the fact that each scene gives you the auditory sensation of more gratifying Goblin grooves.
If you’ve seen Fulci’s New York Ripper, or Martino’s Torso, or even Girolami’s Dr. Butcher, MD, then you probably have a good sense for what’s in store for you. If not? Hold on tight, because you’re about to see things that you simple can’t unsee. The good news? You’ll be treated to aural treats that will help you wash away the darkness.
Beyond the Darkness is unrated, but likely a very hard R rating. It’s available for streaming, but consider purchasing a beautiful blu-ray, with accompanying soundtrack CD, from Severin Films.