• Beyond The Darkness

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: February 13th, 2017.
    Director: Joe D'Amato
    Cast: Kieran Canter, Cinzia Monreale, Franca Stoppi
    Year: 1979
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    The Movie:

    Directed and shot by Joe D'Amato, 1979's Beyond The Darkness is set in and around a fancy estate out in a remote part of the Italian countryside where a young man named Frank (Kiernan Canter), a taxidermist by trade, roams distraught over the loss of his girlfriend, the beautiful Anna (Cinzia Monreale), recently deceased. Strange things are going on with his housekeeper, Iris (Franca Stoppi), who may or may not be practicing voodoo, and who is obviously quite in love (or at least lust) with Frank.

    Frank just can't live without Anna, however, so a few days after she's passed he digs up her corpse and brings it back to his remote mansion, left to him by his late mother and father and free from the interference of the outside world. He cleans out her body, stuffs it, and leaves it in a bed, and then beings to try and find her replacement in the form of any one of the beautiful young women in the area he's able to lure back to his place. Eventually he seems to find her in the place of Elena, Anna's twin sister (also played by Cinzia Monreale). While all of this is going on, Iris is helping him, or so he thinks, but jealousy soon rears its ugly head once again and before you know it Francesco's world becomes a seething cesspool of perversion and death while the local police start to look into certain recent events.

    Stylish and gross, Beyond The Darkness stands as one of D'Amato's best films, an excellent mix of sex and death, the kind that the director made a name for himself exploring through his films. While he'd toyed with the two mingling themes before, most notably in his Black Emmanuelle movies, here he heads full speed ahead into the id where nothing is left to the imagination and no taboo is too much. Blunt in its depiction of Francesco's necrophiliac tendencies and lusts, the film is gooey, gory and sexy - sometimes all at once - and unlike some of his other films doesn't suffer in the least from pacing problems.

    The script works in some interesting psychological angles in and amongst the gore and the nudity, the most obvious being Iris' freaky motherly attraction to Frank, which takes no time whatsoever to turn sexual in nature and as such, almost feels incestuous at times. This contrasts in strange ways with Frank's penchant for knocking of the population of local hotties and with his longing romantic love for the late Anna, who he just can't let go of (mentally or physically). There's a strange but not entirely ineffective romantic angle to the story that D'Amato exploits quite well, but rest assured the film is rooted firmly in horror movie territory, this is no romantic drama (although some elements of twisted black comedy do work their way into the movie).

    Performance wise, Kiernan Canter proves a decent lead and does fine with both the twisted aspects of the story as well as the more sensitive moments, while Franca Stoppi is content to let her pervy freak flag fly in a bold performance that goes quite a bit further sexually than you might expect it to. The eternally beautiful Cinzia Monreale is perfectly cast as the picture perfect Anna, the embodiment of beauty in Francesco's eyes and so to in ours thanks to D'Amatao's graceful camerawork and tendency to frame the actress in only the most flattering of light.

    Note: On the previous Media Blasters/Shriek Show Blu-ray there were a few seconds missing just past the five minute mark - a small scene where Frank parks his red van in the garage and carries the monkey into the house. This footage is restored on the 88 Films release.


    Beyond The Darkness arrives on Blu-ray after about three million delays and schedule changes in an AVC encoded 1080p 1.66.1 widescreen (the previous US Blu-ray release was 1.78.1 and the DVD framed at 1.85.1) transfer on a BD-50 disc that was restored in 2k from the original 16mm negative. The framing here looks fine, however, and compositions don't seem to really be effected at all. The biggest difference between this disc and the US one is in the color timing. This newer 88 Films release definitely has a green hue to it that was absent from the US disc. Detail doesn't really seem to be much stronger than it was on the US release and there are some times where the picture is soft. How much this has to do with the original elements is tough to say, as 88 Films have given the movie a really strong bit rate and the tech specs here are pretty solid.

    Here's a quick comparison shot to demonstrate the color differences, with the US release up top and the UK disc below:

    Audio options are offered up in LPCM English and LPCM Italian, both tracks in Mono. Optional English subtitles that translate the Italian track are provided (the US disc offered only the English track so 88 wins here). Neither mix is going to be demo material but they both sound fine, with properly balanced levels and decent clarity for both the dialogue and the awesome Goblin score that boops and pulses its way through the movie.

    The biggest and best of the extras on the disc is Omega Rising: Remembering Joe D'Amato, a feature length sixty-nine minute documentary that looks back at Aristide Massaccesi's extensive and storied career. Here we get some interesting interviews with George Eastman, Michele Soavi, Claudio Fragasso, Rossella Drudi, Carlo Maria Cordio, Antonio Tentori, Mark Thompson Ashworth. There are also some great clips in here taken from archival interviews with D'Amato (who talks about everything from turning Filipino's into Indios to censorship issues and more). Eastman (or Luigi Montefiori if you prefer) talks about working with the guy since the early seventies and tells some fun stories from various projects that they were involved with together over the years. Michele Soavi talks about how he met D'Amato through his assistant director who was a mutual friend working on Absurd and how this turned into a chance for Soavi to play a kid with a motorbike. Fragasso describes D'Amato as the Italian Roger Corman while Rossella Drudi shares some great stories about working with D'Amato, who she describes as a father figure, on some of the Filmirage titles. Carlo Maria Cordio discusses how he came to score some of D'Amato's films over the years and what he was like to work with while Tentori chimes in about why he feels D'Amato was 'volcanic' and what his sense of humor was like. Ashworth talks about doing English language dubbing on some of D'Amato's adult titles later in the director's career and how he then got to know the man on some of the other porno titles D'Amato helmed before his passing.

    Beyond the Darkness Locations - Then and Now is a twenty minute long piece that, as the title implies, shows us how the locations used for the film shoot have changed over the decades since the film was made. Here we check out locations in Brixen that were used for the opening car ride sequence, we get a look at what the house and surrounding grounds used in the film looks like now, the Brixon cemetery that's featured in the film, some of the streets and shops from Alderbruckengasse/Via Ponte Aquila that pop up and even a modern day look at where the disco that was used in the film used to be (it's now a hotel).

    Rounding out the extras is a theatrical trailer for the feature, three minutes of alternate Italian language opening and closing credits, menus and chapter selection.

    Inside the clear Blu-ray keepcase is an insert booklet containing liner notes by Adrian Smith entitled The British Censorship Of Joe D'Amato. Here Smith details the cuts mandated by the BBFC that were applied to previous British home video releases of this picture and a few other D'Amato titles. Reversible cover art is also included.

    The Final Word:

    Beyond The Darkness is pretty grisly stuff but it's well done with a twisted sense of black humor to it and some pretty solid performances as well. 88 Films' presents the movie on Blu-ray uncut, with multiple language options and a selection of supplements highlighted by a really interesting documentary on the film's director.

    Click on the images below for full size Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      I found it so ugly looking I only watched 10 minutes. 88 has released quite a few of these yellow / green washed Blu's.....they don't seem to be able to afford color correction it seems.
      Color aside, I think the transfer is not great to start as there is very little improvement in image clarity over the old DVD.
      Even with 16mm you should get some visual bump working with the OCN.

      Seems there are still plenty of sub optimal transfers coming out of Italy and companies like 88 just pass them along as is.
      I feel bad for the contributors to their fundraiser, 88 rewards them with a bare minimum of effort into the most important part of the package.
    1. Fundi's Avatar
      Fundi -
      hate to hear the quality of the transfer sucks, I ordered this just 2 or 3 days ago, but I love this movie, and I don't own a copy, and it is better than the Media Blasters release, so what are you going to do, wait another 5 years for a better release, that's not something I feel like doing, I do want a copy of it, and this is the best out there, it's uncut, and it's not a terrible quality release at least, but yeah 88 Films are not the best quality company out there, their release of Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals was a rip off, I can not even watch it it is so bad, they stole my money on that blu ray.
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      I hope the upcoming Severin blu can fix some of the problems with this release. From what I understand their version of BURIAL GROUND was an improvement over 88's, utilizing the same elements. I'm still kinda mad that I sold my Shreik Show DVD....
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      Severin did some nice color correction for BURIAL GROUND, it is much better looking.

      88 has balls, customers fund this release so 88 pays nothing out of their own pocket.
      They get given 100K for 5 films, easily enough to cover all costs + color correction for each film.
      Then they do the bare minimum of work required to get the title out the door, and simply stuff the left over money in their pockets.
      For their troubles fans get these sickly looking Blu's.....

      I know people like their price point but you really get what you pay for with 88 if they do the remastering.