Director – Joe D’Amato
Cast – Kieran Canter, Cinzia Monreale, Franca Stoppi, Sam Modesto
Release Year – 1979
Reviewed by John of the Dead
After his sex-romp cannibal flick Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals and before his iconic cannibal slasher film Anthropophagus, famed Italian sleaze director Joe D’Amato gave us one of his oddest and goriest efforts to date, the sexual slasher film Beyond The Darkness. Filled with the utmost of sleaze and tons of fantastic gore, Beyond The Darkness delivers what fans of 70s/80s Italian horror cinema love to see, and is one of D’Amato’s most memorable films.
Frank Wyler is a young and very rich orphan who’s jealous housekeeper puts a voodoo curse on his fiancé, killing her and leaving Frank to watch her take her last breath. An experienced taxidermist, Frank preserves the body of his young fiancé, and after dressing her up he places her on his bed, her official final resting place. As Frank seeks a replacement for his former love he suffers murderous delusions and kills each maiden who does not fit his criteria, setting off a chain of gory and unfathomable events.
Joe D’Amato sure knows how to shock, and that is the one element that has lead me to seek out and view his films. Ottavio Fabbri’s screenplay provides just the right amount of sleaze and horror, and I loved the idea of a man looking to replace his former love and killing all of those who do not meet the beauty of his former love. We watch what used to be a sane and simple man slowly succumb to the murderous delusions caused by his loss, and Fabbri provided good dialogue and positive conflict in having Frank enlist the help of the very woman who put the voodoo curse on his fiance, of course that little fact was outside of his knowledge. For a 90 minute watch we get plenty of kills to grab the viewer’s attention, and while the film really did not offer much more than a man killing a lot of women in search of a replacement to his fiance, D’Amato’s execution took care of the rest.
Right from the get-go D’Amato throws us into his perfect atmosphere consisting of awesome sets and low-lit shadowy lighting that perfectly matches the insane antics that would later appear on screen. His camerawork is fantastic, and he delivers a full-frontal view of the carnage that takes place, not leaving anything for us to “infer” but throwing the grisly events right at the viewer’s face. I love his gutsy execution, and he continues this awesomeness by delivering insane live-action gore that came off much like the gore we see in Japan’s Guinea Pig series of films. I really could not believe just how real things looked, and if I did not know any better I would bet that he used real human cadavers during the gut-spilling scenes. The kills and usage of Frank’s psyche are definitely the selling points of this film, and both pace Beyond The Darkness beautifully thanks to good writing and awesome direction.
Overall, Beyond the Darkness is another solid Joe D’Amado watch that delivers a sweet story and lots of fantastic gore. The action is high thanks to the numerous kills written into the film, and Joe D’Amado executes his sleaze to perfection and delivers an unforgettable watch that some may refer to as his “gore opus”.