Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 10th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1979
Director: Joe D’Amato
Writers: Ottavio Fabbri, Giacomo Guerrini
Cast: Kieran Canter, Cinzia Monreale, Franca Stoppi, Sam Modesto, Anna Cardini, Lucia D’Elia, Mario Pezzin, Walter Tribus, Klaus Rainer, Edmondo Vallini, Simonetta Allodi
BluRay released: July 25th, 2017
Approximate running times: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.95
Beyond the Darkness was directed by Joe D’Amato (Emanuelle in America), a prolific filmmaker who has just under two hundred films that are accredited to him as a director. And besides his extensive filmography as a director, he also worked extensively as a cinematographer, most notable on films like, The Antichrist and What Have You Done to Solange?
Throughout his career he would primary work within the Horror and Erotic genres. And he would shift away from Soft-core erotica to Hardcore sex films as his career progressed as a director.
And though there is a fair amount of sleaze on display throughout Beyond the Darkness. This film is a Horror film first and foremost. And when it comes to its depiction of carnage, Beyond the Darkness reaches a level of grotesque, that had never been seen before or obtain since!
The premise for the film can be traced back to Mino Guerrini’s Gothic Horror film The Third Eye. And the screenplay for Beyond the Darkness was written by Mino Guerrini’s son Giacomo Guerrini.
The film’s narrative does a superb job setting the tone and maintaining a frantic pace that lets each moments of sadistic Horror linger onscreen for maximum effect. With that being said, the more melodramatic dialog heavy moments are just a means to an end. And it is ultimately this film’s graphic blood-soaked set pieces that drive the story at hand.
Performance wise, the entire cast are good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being Franca Stoppi (The Other Hell, Women’s Prison Massacre) in the role of an older spin-stress Iris, whose obsession for the protagonist is what leads to her becoming his partner in crime. Another performance of note is Cinzia Monreale (The Beyond) in the dual roles of Anna and Elena Völk. She spends the majority of her screen time as a lifeless corpse and the bulk of her dialog comes during the film’s finale. The most uneven performance in this film is Kieran Canter in the role of this film’s protagonist. He spends the majority of the time with a blank expression on his face. Fortunately, all is not lost and his performance shines brightest during his characters darkest moments.
Another strength of this film is Goblin’s score which does a superb job reinforcing the mayhem that is unfolding. Visually the film does not miss a beat and nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to the aforementioned gory set pieces. With some of this most shocking moments being, a scene where the protagonist removes a hitchhikers fingernails while she is alive, a scene where Iris helps dispose of a victim by hatching her limbs as she lay lifeless on the bathroom floor and a scene where the protagonist makes love a woman he has just meet, while the corpse of his dead girlfriend lays in a bed next to them.
Beyond the Darkness comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release the transfer was created from a brand new 2k restoration. And over the years this film has had a troubled history. With transfers from previous home video releases leaving a lot of room for improvement. For this release the transfer gives this film its most accurate looking colors and flesh tones look natural, image clarity is strong throughout, grain remains intact and there are no issues with compression. Needless to say, this film has never looked better on home video.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian. Dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and Goblin’s score sounds robust. Included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles and unfortunately this release does not come with English subtitles that have been translated from the Italian language track.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 58 seconds), a featurette titled Locations Revisited (20 minutes 5 seconds), Goblin Reborn Perform Buio Omega Live 2016 (4 minutes 17 seconds), an interview with actress Cinzia Monreale titled Sick Love (8 minutes 47 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with actress Franca Stoppi titled The Omega Woman (15 minutes 41 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and a documentary titled Joe D’Amato: The Horror Experience (68 minutes 21 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the interview with Franca Stoppi include, how she met Joe D’Amato, Beyond the Darkness, how she had not read the script for Beyond the Darkness before accepting a role, the cast, onset memories, the gory FX, audience reaction, her thoughts about her character and the film.
The extra titled Joe D’Amato: The Horror Experience is a detailed retrospective that covers his most well-known Horror and Erotic films. Besides extensive comments from Joe D’Amato. This extra also features comments from George Eastman, Donald O’Brien and Al Cliver.
Rounding out the extras is a CD containing the score for the film and an Easter Egg with producer Terry Levine who released the film in the U.S. under the title Buried Alive. It should be noted that the exclusive limited-edition CD Soundtrack from Goblin is only available with the first 2500 copies of our Blu-ray release. Overall Severin Films gives Beyond the Darkness its best home video release to date, recommended.
Note: This film is also being released by Severin Films on DVD.