Friday, 21 December 2012



It's been a while since I saw anything by the late Joe D'Amato, aka Aristide Massacessi: a man who has no less than 26 credits on the IMDb for 1998 alone - that's a film a fortnight and by the look of it all of them were porn! In fact most of his filmography appears to be adult, either soft (he was responsible for the Dirty Love and Eleven Days, Eleven Nights series of top-shelfers in the late 80s and early 90s) or hard, much of which has not been granted a UK release. Personally I've no interest in those films, but he also had a few stabs at straight genre movies, getting himself on the Video Nasties list with Absurd and the awful Anthropophagus/The Grim Reaper, and ripping off Conan The Barbarian with his brace of so-bad-they're-absolutely-bloody-awful Ator movies.

One particularly repulsive example of D'Amato's horror output is 1979's Beyond The Darkness, aka Buio Omega or Blue Holocaust: an incomprehensible story of murder, necrophilia and cannibalism. Taxidermist Frank loves Anna, and Anna loves Frank, but his housekeeper Iris loves Frank (perhaps because he's vastly rich) and kills Anna by means of a voodoo doll. Frank digs the body up and takes it home in the back of his van, picking up a stoned British tourist hitch-hiker on the way. While she's sleeping off the spliff, Frank disembowels Anna, chucking guts and organs into a bucket, and starts eating her heart; the hitcher bursts in, so he rips out all her fingernails before killing her. But then Iris turns out to be in on it as well, putting Anna's body in Frank's bed and helping to dispose of the hitcher's body in a bath of acid...

And it keeps going: a morbid black farce with corpses hidden in the wardrobes, cops looking for a missing jogger, Anna's twin sister turning up, a private detective snooping around, Iris planning her wedding to Frank....It is entirely senseless: at no point do these hideous people bear any recognisable resemblance to real people or indeed what you'd expect of people in a horror movie. In addition, it's genuinely revolting with the artless gore sequences and Cinzia Monreale spending most of the movie playing dead and being manhandled by charmless lead Kieran Canter; it's perhaps hardly surprising that this truly icky film has been lost to British audiences. It did have a VHS release back in 1989, but nearly ten minutes shorter than the version some kind but demented soul has uploaded to YouTube.

It's quite clearly not very good; in fact much of it is laughable. And yet, despite the crassness and utter disregard for logic, Beyond The Darkness is oddly fascinating and almost endearing: you rather end up wishing Joe D'Amato had made more horror films instead of endless porno. It's better shot than a lot of, say, Jess Franco movies (D'Amato was also his own DP, billed under his real name), and there's a Goblin score which has some nice moments but isn't one of their best soundtracks. Glad to have seen it, but more in the sense of ticking off another notorious gore semi-obscurity from decades past than deriving much in the way of entertainment from it.


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