Thursday, February 9, 2012


  It's February and according to the television commercials advertising chocolate and greeting cards, love is in the air.  So The KVLT has decided to serve up a spicy Italian dish of post-mortem love and commitment that is sure to satisfy even the most gluttonous gorehound.  It's a tale that illustrates all too vividly, the darkest depths of unwinding madness and the pinnacle of moribund extremes.  A movie that shows that how true love is forever and that death is not necessarily a, "get out relationship jail free", card.  Dear reader, please accept this review of Beyond The Darkness, from The KVLT's blackest heart of hearts to yours, as the closest thing to a Valentines Day card we could ever muster.

  Frank Wyler was enjoying a young, married, and wealthy life in his palatial estate with his wife Anna.  That is until his jealous servant, Iris, kills Anna via voodoo doll ritual.  It seems that Iris has always lusted after after Frank and with his wife out of the picture, Iris has plans of seducing him.  Tortured and obsessed with the memory of his dearly departed wife, Frank drives to the cemetery in the middle of the night, exhumes Anna's body and takes it back to his estate.  Being an avid taxidermy hobbyist, he them proceeds to remove her internal organs, embalms, and stuffs her for future preservation.  When he is not sleeping with or fantasizing about his late wife, he spends his time stalking and viscously murdering young women.  Once Iris discovers Frank's new homicidal hobbies, she becomes his accomplice, all the while trying to seduce him.  The pair also try to prevent the authorities from the tracing the recent disappearances of young women back to their mansion turned house of horrors. 

Beyond the Darkness proves that there is more than one way to get up in them guts. 

  Given the film's explicit and taboo subjects as well as scenes of graphic intense violence, a true juxtaposition occurs in the tone in which Beyond The Darkness was lensed.  It's cinematography breathes a hazy, dreamlike ambiance very similar to what French horror auteur Jean Rollin became so well known for in the 70's, instead of settling for the harsh gritty exploitation film fare of the day.  Coupled with the lush imagery is a very jazzy and moody soundtrack by Italy's favorite cult film composers, Goblin, that focuses heavily on somber keys and subdued string swells rather than their usual bombastic "prog rock from hell", that they are known for in films like George A. Romero's Dawn Of The Dead, and many of Dario Argento's horror classics like Suspiria, and Deep Red.  The artful and overly competent handling of the morbid material within the frames of Beyond The Darkness is even more bizarre when considering that it was directed by the man-of-a-thousand pseudonyms, Joe D'Amato.  The reason for his many nom de plumes is that he usually wears multiple hats as a writer, director, producer, etc partly to have total creative control and to keep the cost of his films low.  Another reason is that Westernizing foreign names were a very common advertising ploy in the international film market of the 60's 70's and 80's.  But it's also very possible that his many alias' stem from wanting to differentiate his genre pictures from his extensive career in producing and directing hundreds of hardcore pornographic films.  Yet somehow, Beyond The Darkness doesn't come off quite as sleazy or diminutive when you consider D'Amato's legacy of smut and sleaze flicks.  

Beyond The Darkness also graphically illustrates how, "a woman's work is never done." 

  But don't fret gorehounds and shock movie aficionados.  Beyond The Darkness doesn't substitute gloss for gross.  It still tops many watch lists of the goriest and most disturbing horror films of all time for a reason.  Your patience will be will be rewarded again and again by multiple scenes of murder, fingernails being pulled out one by one with pliers, an acid bath, necrophilia, a body sectioned and quartered, eyeballs removed and replaced, throats ripped out, an autopsy and cremation scene that caused many to believe that D'Amato used real corpses and/or real footage of corpses in his film, which allegedly led to a series of investigations.

Fun Facts about Beyond The Darkness:

Alternate titles for Beyond the Darkness include The Final Darkness, Buio Omega, Buried Alive, and Blue Holocaust

Here's a list Joe D'Amato's pseudonyms:  Donna Aubert | Steven Benson | Anna Bergman | John Bird | Enrico Biribicchi | Alexander Boroscky | Alexandre Borsky | Bernard Brel | James Burke | David Carson | Lynn Clark | O.J. Clarke | Oliver J. Clarke | Hugo Clevers | Joe Damato | Joe De Mato | Raf De Palma | Michael Di Caprio | Dario Donati | Félicien Dran | Robert Duke | Oscar Faradine | Romano Gastaldi | John Gelardi | Robert Hall | Richard Haller | David Hills | Igor Horwess | George Hudson | Fred Sloniscko Jr | Kevin Mancuso | A. Massaccesi | Aristice Massaccesi | Aristide Massaccesi | Aristide Massaccessi | Aristede Massacesi | Aristide Massacesi | Aristide Massacessi | Arizona Massachuset | Arizona Massachusset | Andrea Massai | J. Metheus | Peter Newton | Una Pierre | Robert Price-Jones | Zak Roberts | Joan Russel | Joan Russell | Tom Salima | Fred Sloniscko Jr. | Federico Slonisco | Frederick Slonisco | Fédérico Slonisco | Federico Slonisko Jr. | Federiko Slonisko Jr. | Frederico Slonisko Jr. | Dan Slonisko | Federico Slonisko | Federiko Slonisko | Frederico Slonisko | Frederic Slonisko | Frederiko Slonisko | Fred Slonisko | Chana Lee Sun | Chang Lee Sun | Michael Wotruba | Robert Yip | Joe d'Amato | Raf de Palma