• Beyond Evil (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: September 24th, 2019.
    Director: Herb Freed
    Cast: John Saxon, Lynda Day George, Michael Dante, Mario Milano, Janice Lynde
    Year: 1980
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    Beyond Evil –Movie Review:

    This low budget thriller from director Herb Freed (the director of Graduation Day) follows a married couple, Larry and Barbara Andrews (the husband is played by none other than John Saxon and the wife by Lynda Day George) who take up residence in a creepy old house in The Philippines. Larry, who is an architect, has moved the couple there so that he and his business partner, Del Giorgio (Michael Dante), can build an apartment building. They learn, shortly after moving in, that this place has a few secrets hiding within its creaky old walls. The building used to be home to Alma Martin (Janice Lynde), a witch who was a force of great evil that died there, murdered by her husband. As the locals believe, however, she came back from the dead and exacted her revenge against him. Now that fresh blood has shown up, the spirit takes up residence within the Barbara’s body.

    As her evil powers grow stronger, some of the locals start winding up dead so. Unsure how to deal with this, Larry decides to contact a shaman to enlist his aid in getting his wife back from whatever spirit is running the show.

    Beyond Evil is beyond pretty goofy. Don’t go into this one expecting much in the way of atmosphere, ambience, or creepiness because the film doesn’t offer much of that. It does, however, have its moments. The pacing is sluggish in the middle of the film (we spend WAY too much time hanging out at the construction site and watching Larry and Del deal with financing) but the final act goes off the rails and winds up getting kooky enough to work. The effects might be cheap, even cumbersome, but there’s something to be said for the film’s wacky laser beam eye shots, the hokey voodoo doll types and the goofy possession effects. Visually speaking, the movie is pretty strong. Freed does a nice job, along with cinematographer Ken Plotin, of capturing the atmosphere of the eerie mansion setting and the Filipino locations allow the movie to capture a few exotic moments, like a sequence with some native fire dancers.

    As far as the performances are concerned, everyone Saxon included – though he’s the best of the cast members - over acts or doesn’t act. The fact that much of the dialogue in the film feels very stilted doesn’t really help anyone out in that regard. Still, Saxon is Saxon and if he chews more than his fair share of the scenery in this one, he’s entertaining enough to watch and you just can’t help but love the guy. Lynda Day George is also entertaining, particularly when she’s playing her character as possessed.

    The film also benefits from a very cool score courtesy of Pino Donaggio.

    Beyond Evil – Blu-ray Review:

    Beyond Evil arrives on Blu-ray in a nice AVC encoded 1080p high definition 1.85.1 widescreen transfer taken from a new 2k restoration of the original 35mm negative and it looks quite good. Small white specks show up here and there but there isn’t really much more than that as far as print damage goes. Colors, especially those garish greens used in the effects set pieces in the later part of the film, are reproduced nicely. There’s good detail here, nice depth and texture too, and the image looks faithfully filmic throughout, showing plenty of grain.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track sounds decent enough. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow and the track is nicely balanced. Pino Donaggio’s memorably odd score sounds pretty solid here too. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    As far as the extras go, we start off with Origins Of Evil, a brand new video interview with director Herb Freed that runs just shy of fifteen-minutes. He speaks about how he used to work as a Rabbi and why he left after three years and eventually got into filmmaking after studying how it all works. He then speaks about working in advertising before then making features. He then speaks about coming up with the story for Beyond Evil, shooting on location, some of what happened during the shoot and where the ‘healing with hands’ part came from, the spiritual side of the film, what Saxon and George were like to work with, Donaggio’s score and more.

    A second featurette, Evil In Paradise, is a new video interview with producer David Baughn that clocks in at just over thirteen-minutes. He talks about coming up with the title in a bar, working with Freed on Haunts before Beyond Evil, his thoughts on Freed’s directing, some of the set pieces that he came up with for the picture, raising the money to get the picture made by hosting a seminar on distribution, almost getting killed on the shoot and winding up in the hospital for two weeks of the shoot, having to do reshoots after running into problems with a reel from negative getting destroyed, some of the stunt work that was done on the picture, working with Saxon and George, working with Freed on Graduation Day and more.

    Aside from that we get the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie. Vinegar Syndrome has also provided some reversible cover art for this release.

    Beyond Evil - The Final Word:

    Beyond Evil pretty hokey but if you’re a sucker for old school optical effects, eerie locations and laser beam eyes you’ll probably be entertained despite the pacing problems. Saxon and George are fun to watch and the score is solid. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray looks very good and the two interviews do a nice job of documenting the film’s history.

    Click on the images below for full sized Beyond Evil Blu-ray screen caps!