1990, Dir. Claudio Fragasso
Blu-ray released by 88 Films
“From the director of TROLL 2”
There, that’s it. That’s the review.
Those words alone should let you know precisely what slice of schlocky insanity you’re in for. But if you’ve not seen Troll 2 (which is just as terrible as you’ve heard, though a far, far cry from the so-called Worst Movie Ever Made), then you may be wondering what the fuss is about. So let’s take a look at Claudio Fragasso’s Beyond Darkness, new on Blu-ray from the mad geniuses at 88 Films.
The film comes to you courtesy of FILMIRAGE, the production company of Italian exploitation maestro Joe D’Amato aka Aristide Massaccesi. Filmirage began as a vehicle for him to release his own films, such as Anthropophagous and Absurd, but by the late 80s was putting out horror and sex films from a variety of directors. Their finest moment was arguably Michele Soavi’s stunning slasher Stage Fright, though there was some fine (if occasionally goofy) work from old hands like Umberto Lenzi and yes, Claudio Fragasso.
The film itself has what can only be described as an all-star cast of B movie champs. We’ve got Stage Fright’s David Brandon, here hamming it up like you wouldn’t believe as an alcoholic priest. The lead female role goes to Barbara Bingham, who slasher fans will recognise as the teacher from Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan. Then there’s the kid from —you guessed it — Troll 2, and finally, my favourite. Gene LeBrock, who’s career seems inextricably linked to his ability to resemble Tom Cruise from a certain angle.
See what I mean? Anyway, the film itself is sadly one of Filmirage’s lesser offerings, though there’s plenty to enjoy. It begins as a pretty standard haunted house picture, which makes perfect sense, considering the film was shot in the same hotel where Lucio Fulci made The Beyond.
The film, which appears to be shot in sync-sound English for the most part, has a somewhat skewed idea of family dynamics, with everyone roaring with laughter at dumb jokes and silly bullshit for the first half-hour. There is a good, creepy scene with a giant swan statue however.
Look at that guy! The first half of the film is a bit of a Poltergeist rip-off, but I like Poltergeist, so I’m totally cool with that. There’s an almost Insidious-feel to some of the scares, with ghouls in black veils storming the house and kidnapping children, leading to the best scene in the film, a surreal journey through a mirror that should have been the entire third act.
Sadly, it’s not to be, and for one simple reason, a reason that should strike terror into the hearts of horror film lovers across the globe. Priests. Fucking priests. The most boring, un-cinematic profession imaginable. Here’s the thing —I don’t care about priests losing their faith. I have literally zero interest in it. Lose it…don’t lose it…who fucking cares? All priests do in movies is grapple with their faith, drink a lot, then stand around a bed shouting. It’s so boring. And yes, before you ask, the same criticism also applies to The Exorcist. Hey, I don’t make the rules, guys.
So yeah, unfortunately the third act is a tediously rote exorcism film. If that appeals to you, then knock yourself out, but I’ll keep clear, thanks. There’s not even any good special effects or gore gags to keep the interest levels up, which is unusual for a Filmirage movie. Luckily, the Blu-ray from 88 Films delivers. The transfer is terrific, albeit in that familiar ‘soft’ look inherent in Italian horror titles of the period, and there’s a nice selection of extras, the highlight for music nerds being an interview with composer Carlo Maria Cordio, where he demonstrates how the Hammond Organ works. It’s a nice package, and if you don’t have the same aversion to exorcism films that I do, there’s a lot of fun to be had with Beyond Darkness.
When a man of God and his loving family move into a new house, they think they’ve found the perfect home…until they discover that their new digs were once the location where a coven of witches were burned at the stake! It’s only a matter of time before the radio starts blaring satanic chants and the cutlery takes on a mind of its own. Will the awakened evil in this house have its final revenge, or can a plucky priest fend off what lurks Beyond Darkness? This tale of terror comes from Claudio Fragasso, the director of Troll 2 (so you KNOW it’s good!).
You can buy Beyond Darkness from 88 Films
David Sodergren lives in Scotland with his wife Heather and his best friend, Boris the Pug.
Growing up, he was the kind of kid who collected rubber skeletons and lived for horror movies.
Not much has changed since then.
His first novel, The Forgotten Island, was published on October 1st 2018. This was followed by Night Shoot, a brutal throwback to the early 80s slasher movie cycle, in May 2019.
2020 will be Sodergren’s biggest year yet, with two new horror novels being published. Dead Girl Blues is a slasher-noir mystery, and it will be followed by a return to full-blown supernatural horror before the end of the year.
You can follow David on Twitter @paperbacksnpugs
To find out more about David please visit his official website www.paperbacksandpugs.wordpress.com
Find David on Instagram here
Dead Girl Blues
When a young woman dies in Willow Zulawski’s arms, it sets in motion a chain of events that will push her to the brink of madness.
A mysterious video is the only clue, but as Willow digs deeper into the murky world of snuff movies, those closest to her start turning up dead. Someone out there will stop at nothing to silence her.
After all, when killing is business, what’s one more dead body?
Part noir mystery, part violent slasher, Dead Girl Blues is the latest twisted shocker from David Sodergren, author of The Forgotten Island and Night Shoot.
The Forgotten Island
When Ana Logan agrees to go on holiday to Thailand with her estranged sister Rachel, she hopes it will be a way for them to reconnect after years of drifting apart.
But now, stranded on a seemingly deserted island paradise with no radio and no food, reconciliation becomes a desperate fight for survival.
For when night falls on The Forgotten Island, the dark secrets of the jungle reveal themselves.
Something is watching them from the trees.
You can read the Kendall Review for The Forgotten Island HERE
A group of desperate student filmmakers break into Crawford Manor for an unauthorised night shoot. They have no choice. Their lead actress has quit. They’re out of time. They’re out of money.
They’re out of luck.
For Crawford Manor has a past that won’t stay dead, and the crew are about to come face-to-face with the hideous secret that stalks the halls.
Will anyone survive…the NIGHT SHOOT?
A delirious homage to the slasher movies of the 1980s, Night Shoot delivers page after page of white-knuckle terror.
You can read the Kendall Review for Night Shoot HERE