During the late 70’s, the film industry was besieged by a surge of increasing violent films that highlighted sex in what later became known as sexploitation films. Beyond the Darkness came out the same year as the infamous Cannibal Holocaust, and though it is not as notable today, it is just as shocking and gratuitous. Italian horror films of this era were very stylized as seen in Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava, and Dario Argento films. In Beyond the Darkness, filmmaker Joe D’Amato, takes a dirtier approach to murder and slaughter. He has his main character, Frank, digging up his beautiful wife from the grave, cleaning out her innards, snacking on her heart, and stuffing her like a mounted animal on display. Yes, it is as sickening as it sounds… and this is only the beginning of the film. Let me back track a little bit to give you some background.
Beyond the Darkness is about Frank, who has recently lost his young wife, and Iris, his creepy maid who will do just about anything for him. Frank is devastated over the loss of his wives’ untimely death and goes on a strange murder spree. He keeps his dead corpse wife in their marital bed and brings women home to mutilate them next to his watching wife. It is unclear what Frank’s motive is, but this is a film known for its scandalous imagery not for its plot.
The casting is a handsome troupe. The dead wife is preserved in her death state and remains as beautiful as ever. Frank draws women into his lair with his piercing, crystal blue eyes that seem to glow. Iris, the maid who helpfully disposes of the bodies, is middle-aged but graceful and statuesque. She is so thin that her features are so severe that they are almost skeleton-like. She plays bad very well. The relationship between Iris and Frank is a strange and enabling one. Iris is just as mad as Frank. Really, they are the perfect match.
It takes a certain kind of person to enjoy a film like this. I actually felt queasy watching it and it almost makes me feel more uncomfortable than Nekromantik and Nekromantik 2. Surprisingly there isn’t much necrophilia in this film given the subject matter but it seemed to bother me more since the corpses in this movie are fresher compared to the decomposing bodies in Nekromantik. The bodies are more human and thus more realistic and disturbing. There is a LOT of nudity in Beyond the Darkness with one scene in particular that will never leave my mind – that of Iris hacking a body to pieces for disposal with the camera angle in full view of pubis.
Beyond the Darkness belongs with films like Deep Red, Suspiria, Shock, and Tenebre because of the stellar soundtrack by Goblin. Goblin is the most well-known composers of Italian genre films and are known for their funky, retro style. My version of this film is dubbed, but the gore factor remains intact. This is the first film I have seen by Joe D’Amato and I knew from the beginning of the film that I would be a fan of his low-budget cult status. The characters are not likeable but they are unique and interesting. Think of Frank as a cousin to Norman Bates from Psycho. And for those who love shocking and disgusting films, the end has a gruesome payoff. ‘Til death do us part’ takes on a whole new meaning in Beyond the Darkness.
©Doom-Generation.com Movie Reviews for the Sublimely Weird