By Jerome Reuter
Beyond The Darkness is an exploitation film by Joe D’Amato. Like a lot of his other works, its excessive, violent, and bizarre. One of the infamous video nasties, it’s still banned in several countries, even to this day. However, this is also his finest work. It’s a strange tale of obsession, dementia, and one the strangest love triangles you’ll ever see.
The story follows a mentally unstable taxidermist named Frank. He’s just lost his wife to what appears to be a mysterious illness. In reality however, her death is the cause of supernatural forces at work. Those forces being a voodoo doll, and his obsessed housekeeper/wet nurse name Iris. Throughout the film, were reminded of Frank’s unhealthy, yet unbreakable attachment to this woman who takes control of his life. It’s definitely one of the more taboo elements with this one, and it really gives the film its gloomy feel.
His wife’s untimely death does nothing to sever Franks union with his beloved. Unwilling to let sleeping corpses lie, he absconds with her recently buried remains. He keeps her close by preserving her remains, unable to let her go. As strange as that may seem, it’s not entirely fictitious. In the early 1920’s, a doctor named Karl Von Kossel was working in Key West, Florida. While treating several tuberculosis patients, he became smitten with one of them. Unwilling to accept hear death, he would later abduct her body from her grave, Mummifying her with wax, and keeping her skeleton held together with piano wire. I wouldn’t be surprised if D’Amato was influenced by that story. Obsession is obsession, it doesn’t matter where it takes place.
The films main narrative is comprised of two elements. The vulnerability and degeneration of Frank, and the manipulation and callousness of Iris. Frank, driven by madness fueled violence, begins to commit a series of murders. Much like a faithful wet nurse to a baby, Iris is always present to watch the child left in her care. She’s always there to help pick up the pieces, and sweep them under the rug. Or in this case, dissolve them in acid.
In some ways, Frank reminds me of Norman Bates. Someone who isn’t necessarily evil to begin with, but driven to extremes by the circumstances of his environment. Between the controlling relationship he has with Iris, and the taxidermy angle, I was reminded of Psycho.
So, how is this film overall? In my opinion, it’s a great exploitation film. It does an amazing job at balancing violence and obsession. It’s also a story one can sit down and analyze intellectually. They’re always something beneath all the blood.
The films soundtrack composed by Goblin, and it’s one of their best scores. I really fits the mood perfectly, merging soft piano melodies and even some synth pop. There’s something in this gem for every type of horror fan.
I’m not sure what else to day about this one. Go fall in love with this video nasty.