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Beyond Darkness - Beyond Darkness(Blu Ray & CD) [Severin - 2021]

Beyond Darkness is a prime example of early 90’s Italian schlock-  that blends haunted house and possession tropes for a decidedly wacky, unpredictable, though often entertaining ride.  Here from the guys at Severin is a new double-disc release of the film- bringing together a Blu Ray, with a new print & extras, and a CD of the film's soundtrack.

Appearing in the year 1990 Beyond Darkness ( aka Evil Dead 5, Ghost House 6 , House 5)- it was directed/ co-written by Claudio Fragasso. He’s most known as the director of the classic bad horror film gold of Troll 2, though he has around forty other scriptwriting credits and thirty directing credits- taking the likes of Hell Of The Living Dead, Rats Night Of Terror, and Night Killer- which also got a release on Severin a few years back, and is worth tracking down, as it’s a sleazed and highly illogical murder mystery/ semi Giallo from the ’90s. 

The film kicks off with Father George(David Brandon) going to give the last rights to a deranged satanic female killer- as they are leading her down to old sparky he can see her dead victims, and this sends the priest unbalanced - so he roams the street swigging a bottle and ranting. Meanwhile, the films lead family are moving into a huge riverside house- these consist of Father Peter (Gene LeBrock), his blond wife Annie (Barbara Bingham), their whiny young daughter Carole (Theresa Walker) and cheeky young son Martin(Troll 2’s Michael Paul Stephenson). As the family tries to settle in Carole sees a bright glowing light in one of the houses walls, they get attacked by a satanic chanting radio, get overrun by a crowd of old woman in black net veils. Faces press through walls, plates fly, mysterious winds blow up from no were( as actors awkwardly laugh), and doors/ windows rattle. The Father goes back to his superior- who tells him he’s strong and has been chosen to cleanse the house.
 
As we move on the boozing father George turns up to help the family as a doorway to eternal dusk and a fog-bound world full of more black-veiled woman appears (could this have been an influence on the further in the Insidious films?).  Young Martin gets possessed, and the whole schlocky blend of haunted house and possession tropes ramps itself up. Along the way, we get some hammy-to-down right bad acting, lots of cheesy lines of dialogue, and of course loads of creepy/ OTT campness. Sure, Beyond Darkness is extremely derivative, stealing left, right and centre from other genre films- but it’s the way it’s all blended together with euro cheese ‘n’ wonky acting that makes the film such an entertaining ride.
 
Moving onto this new set- and first, off we get the Blu Ray disc, this is region A locked, and we get an HD scan of the film and a few extras- taking in three new on-screen interviews. We have Beyond Possession- this is a thirty-seven minutes interview with director Fragasso. He starts by discussing why the film had some many titles, and how the films other titles related to the Italian release of the Evil Dead films. He goes on to talk about filming in Louisiana, the pros and cons of making films in the states. He discusses the films cast, effects setups and more- all making for a most worthy at times quite entertaining interview.  Next, we have The Devil In Mrs. Drudi- a twenty-two-minute interview with the films co-writer Rossella Drudi. Lastly, we have Sign Of The Cross- which is a twenty-eight-minute interview with British actor David Brandon, who played Father George. Lastly, we get a trailer.
 
 
The second CD features the film's soundtrack- this is composed by Carlo Maria Cordio, who has forty-four score credits to his name- taking in the likes of Joe D’Amato’s Absurd,  Lucio Fulci’s Aenigma, as well as few Fragasso Troll 2- so he has a very good grounding in euro horror scoring. The CD takes in seventeen tracks, and it’s a good late 80’s/ early 90’s horror film score- featuring a suitable creepy and chilling atmosphere, as well as a good ear for flighty malevolence to moody melodies. We go from the opening track “The Sky Began To Thunder” which features moanful synth string keys, moody percussive rumbles, and tighter higher key weaves. Onto moody punch synth drums, malevolent music box keys, and brooding electro bass stretchings of “Demons And Ghosts”. We have “Kinfe In A Flash” which brings ghoulishly climbing church organ tones & gothic retro synth tones. We have the ghost house synth whispers meet choppy percussion, and urgent stabbing keys of “Fear, Panic, Death” which later opens up into warbling synth-guitar tones, darting electro bass and tightly dramatic key runs. Or the darkly soothing Gregorian chants meets gloom bass synth stabs of “Beginning Of A Bad Day”. On the whole, a most worthy score, that works well in the film- but equally can be played on its own too. The CD comes with a glossy three-page inlay, featuring linear notes about the score, and of course full track listings too.
 

In finishing Beyond Darkness is an enjoyable example of early 90’s euro horror- with all the different genre tropes blended and mixed in an entertaining manner. This Severin release is great, as you get both the film, plus some neat new extras, and the great score on the CD. It’s wonderful to see another Fragasso film getting a nice treatment from the label, and let's hope there are more Fragasso films from Severin down the line.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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