Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beyond the Darkness (1979, Joe D'Amato)

Beyond the Darkness is a film I got from a Netflix free trial after browsing through their site.  I had never heard of it but I had read a bit about Joe D'Amato and had seen a couple of his films (Anthropophagus and Porno Holocaust) and wanted to see more of his stuff.  I did a little research and found out that the film is somewhat acclaimed (or at least one of the better films of his long and varied career).  I also read that it was pretty sick.

Frank (Kieran Canter) is a wealthy young man who was orphaned as a child with only his devoted maid Iris (Franca Stoppi) to care for him.  Devoted being an understatement since Frank suckles Iris' breasts in stressful times and allows her to give him handjobs too.  Some maid!  Anyway, Iris is jealous of Frank's girlfriend Anna (Cinzia Monreale) and uses black magic to kill her.  Iris hopes this will win Frank over but instead the "slightly unbalanced" Frank (who is also a taxidermist) digs up Anna to bring home.  He takes out her organs and embalms her so she'll stay fresh for him to keep on loving.  Yeah, eww.  Iris' jealousy continues but that doesn't stop her from helping Frank dismember and dissolve a couple of girls in acid baths that he brings home, when they find out about Anna. 

Pretty sick?  Yeah, you could say that.  Or fucking kooky works too.  Though you can't help snicker at the sheer wackiness of the story, the film is played dead seriously which makes the whole affair that much more unsettling.  All of the death and gore scenes are astoundingly realistic and Cinzia Monreale plays one of the most believable corpses this side of Weekend at Bernie's.  No seriously, I can't think of a harder role but she nailed it.  The dismemberment and embalming scenes are very explicit and so well done that you want to cry snuff.  Kieran Canter (who went on to do porn) is perfect as Frank and Franca Stoppi is quite sinister as Iris.  All of these elements together make for a surprisingly watchable and (gasp) likable film.  Not a very inspiring or emotional film but well done.

RATING:  6/10 

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