Beyond Darkness (1990)

If you’ve ever read the real estate section of your local paper, you’ve seen the ads: Great starter home! 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, attached garage, coven of zombie witches, excellent schools, $229,000. Built on the scene of a horrific witch burning centuries ago, this history-infused charmer has been retrofitted with central air and is wired for cable. Though thoroughly modern in its amenities, the gateway to hell located on the second floor still functions! Perfect for families with small children who are not too attached to old-world notions of souls!

It’s every family’s dream home to be sure, but it’s also the sort of home that’s a bit out of reach to most of us, whether it’s the high price tag, not enough bathrooms, or the fact that we’re sort of attached to our souls.

For the good Reverend Peter and his happy family though, his job of believing in God apparently is starting to pay dividends because his church sets it up so that he and his family can move right into one of these demonic fixer-uppers. A little paint, a little plaster, and a little exorcism and this thing will look good as new!

These sort of house hauntings don’t happen in a vacuum though. At least that’s the only explanation I have for the prologue that occurs at a Louisiana prison where an inmate, Bette, is awaiting her execution. She’s a child killer who is a disciple of a demon named Ameth and she matches wits with the priest sent to see her before she rides the lighting.

Father George is a man of faith though! But unfortunately, it’s a freaking weak faith because it’s not long before she’s handing him her special evil bible, he’s seeing the children that she killed, and he’s hitting the bottle and babbling incoherently on street corners!

This whole bit with Bette seems sort of pointless since Peter’s house already has plenty of rotting witches trying to steal souls. Plus, these witches were all burned up hundreds of years ago and are now itching for payback.

Beyond following Ameth, what is Bette’s interest in what is happening in this house that is supposedly all the way up in New England? (Strangely, the yard seems replete with all manner of plants that would normally only appear in the south, but we might attribute them to the demonic spirits who are intent on demonstrating their disdain for all that’s pure by monkeying with the local flora.)

The way Peter’s boss eventually explained it (after all sorts of crappy stuff had happened to Peter’s family), there was a big witch burning in the past and some innocents also got torched. A house was built on the site for some reason and now they need some dingus to go in and clean out the witches and purify things.

But what needs to be purified? If you burned the witches at the stake, that’s okay because they were evil. If you burned innocent people at the stake, that’s not as okay, but they aren’t witches so they wouldn’t have any evil power to complain all these centuries later. And why and how does Bette manage to show up there?

Yeah, you could sit at your kitchen table and map out the illogical structure of why this particular house is haunted, but who has time for such intellectual pursuits when there’s a meat cleaver flying through the air at you!

The witches hanging around in the upstairs walk in closet/hell portal are also too busy pranking Peter and his family to stop and think that maybe most of it doesn’t make any sense. They engage in all sorts of dickish conduct from dumping Peter’s Bible into a mud puddle to pushing Pete right down the stairs. They even cause his potpourri to spill all over the floor! Good God! Can imagine how good that room must have smelled? The horror!

Eventually, the witches bring their “A” game and kidnap Peter’s little boy, Martin! Not to be outdone, Peter turns around and partners with George for some tag team exorcism action!

The witches then try to doubly outdo Pete and George by putting George in the electric chair that has somehow materialized in the house (why wasn’t that in the real estate ad?) and give him the juice! Then they try and force Peter and his wife to stab poor little Marty with a crucifix that has a blade sticking out of the top of it! The movie ends with some outside assistance that makes you wonder why we went through all this in the first place.

Beyond Darkness is the sort of movie that’s perfect if you know what the movie is before you actually watch it. If you know it’s another one of those Italian made Filmirage horror movies, you won’t be disappointed. Did you love Troll 2, Contamination .7, and Hitcher In The Dark? Then you’ll almost be able to tolerate the comparatively bland Beyond Darkness!

Those of you though who watch this movie and see the name Clyde Anderson as the director and don’t immediately smirk at Claudio Fragasso’s cheekiness in Americanizing his name are in for a pretty rough ride. (Fragasso directed a few hideous horror movies like the aforementioned Troll 2, Night Killer, and Monster Dog and also wrote and worked on a bunch more with Bruno Mattei.)

Ultimately though, most of you will want your agent to show you a different haunted house, preferably something that’s a little more upscale than this handyman’s special with its skimpy hell closet.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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