Beyond Terror - Beyond Terror( Blu Ray) [Cauldron Films - 2021]
From the early 1980s Beyond Terror is a Spanish film that blends mean-spirited crime thriller with ghoulish supernature horror. The film shifts from a robbery gone wrong terrority, onto taut kidnapping and abuse caper, before sliding into creepy ‘n’ cobwebbed lined isolated church/ crypt horror. Beyond Terror is liberally splashed with gore too- first, from crime spree related shootings/ deaths, before moving creepy-to- brutal supernatural fed kills. All wrapped up in an atmosphere that goes from tense anything-can-happen, to low-key and subtly unsettling. Here from the relatively new genre film reissuing label Cauldron Films is a recent region free Blu Ray release of the film- taking in a new 4K scan of the picture, and a commentary track from respected cult film historian Kat Ellinger.
Beyond Terror ( aka Más allá del terror, Further Than Fear, Terrorgang) appeared in the year 1980- though feels very 1970’s in its often nasty/ mean spirited tone, its fashions, and its general feel. It was directed by Valencia born Tomás Aznar- who had just five feature-length films to his name. These move from the comedy-drama of The Good Book Of Love( 1975), adventure-comedy Viva/muera Don Juan Tenorio( 1977), and Playboy en paro (1984) that looks like a sex comedy. so, he has no real grounding in either crime thriller or horror cinema- but Beyond Terror is a well enough shot/ staged film. Sure some of the acting is a little mixed, and the sudden tone/ pace shift around the midpoint may throw some, but it’s a rewarding enough-if- as points nastily edged blend of thriller and horror.
The film kicks off with the rather mannish looking twenty-something Lola(Raquel Ramírez) been picked up by a greying and tubby middle-aged man. It seems the pair have agreed to meet for sex- the man is all over Lola, but she suggests they go out into the countryside to be alone, he agrees, and when they get there she runs off. When he finally catches up with her, they start awkwardly making out, but all of a sudden she pulls out a knife and rapidly stabs the man- stealing his money and running off. It turns out Lola is part of a pot-smoking ‘n’ bad vibes motorcycle gang, which takes in her junky brother Jorge( Antonio Jabalera) and nasty womanizer Nico(Emilio Siegrist)- the three score some drugs, then start looking for trouble. First, they rob a night café, verbally abusing the clients, before unceremonial killing a few. They kidnap carpet salesman Andras(David Forrest), and Linda ( Alexia Loreto) the fur coat wearing wife of his boss- going on a road trip. Fairly soon the group come across an isolated house- promptly killing the families dog, before meeting the old lady and young boy who live in the house- they brutalize the old lady, lock up the boy- then proceed to set fire to the house, seemingly killing both…but just as the group drives off, we hear the old woman giving a satanic curse.
Next, the pace/ tone switches to the supernatural/ horror side of things as the group land up at an isolated and seemingly abandoned church. Fairly soon they start seeing the young boy and dog from the house they burnt down, and other strange going-on's. And as we go on we find out there’s a substantial crypt beneath the church, which is laden with dust and cobweb-covered standing up corpses.
As mentioned early the acting is very mixed- moving from passable to bad and amusing hammy-ness, but this is euro horror from the ’80s. The film very much feels like a game of two halves- the first just under hour of the film is very much a pacy/ shifting crime thriller, then in the last thirty-five minutes or so we switch to slow down to creepy atmospheric, that’s darted with moments of horror. The gore- be it stabbings and shootings, or more brutal supernatural kills come fairly often, there are darts of both female and surprisingly male nudity. On the whole, the film is enjoyable if slightly unbalanced blend of crime thriller and ghoulish horror- it just would have been nice if they’d maybe kicked into the creepy side of things quicker.
Moving onto this new region free Blu Ray- and we get a wonderfully clear, crisp, and bright new 4k scan of the film. This enhances both the 70’s like colourings, the stark green-ness of the Spanish countryside and of course the dust, cobwebbed weaved and bloody moments.
On the extras front, we get a commentary track from the always great Kat Ellinger- and as usual, she gives a wonderfully researched and informative track. She goes from talking about how rare/ unseen the film is, with it only really getting a German VHS release, and shown in USA Spanish language picture houses in the mid 80's. Moving onto talk about the more sweary- but natural dialogue of the film, and how this could hint at its nod towards socially commentating cinema of the time in Spain. She discusses how the film fits into Spanish cinema of the time, and that it's one of the few Spanish genre films of the ’80s. She talks about similar zombie/ genre films of the period, and much more. Once again a most entertaining and worthy track from Ms Elliger, that could easily be played a few times. Other extras wise on the disc we get an image gallery, which is a nice look at the clearly very rare original film poster/ promotional stills, and the cover of the german VHS that was released of the film.
It’s great to see that there are still curious and distinct genre films been uncovered from the 1980s and released- and Beyond Terror is most certainly that, with its mixing and blend of nasty crime and ghoulish horror genres. Also, it’s great to see that we have a new genre reissuing label appearing in the form of Cauldron Films, and by the look of the inlay card that comes with the release, they have some interesting titles in the works too.Roger Batty