Beyond the Darkness (1979)

In Beyond the Darkness, Frank is a young dude with feathered hair who drives around in his red serial killer van while the familiar sounds of Goblin pump out on his bitching speaker rack as he heads off to pick up that baboon he ordered a few weeks before. Unfortunately this baboon doesn’t really play much more of a part in this film and is mainly used to introduce us to Frank’s hobby, taxidermy.

In movies where Goblin provides the aneurysm-inducing synth music and the main character is a taxidermist, how long is it before our hero decides that what would look really sweet next to his stuffed baboon and squirrel is his girlfriend?

It is this rather uninteresting premise that is the jumping off point for Joe D’Amato‘s dark fairy tale (I call it a fairy tale because it takes someplace in Europe where there are mountains) about love, death, and the value of a housekeeper who doesn’t mind hacking up wayward hitchhikers for you.

While Frank is carting around baboon carcasses, his girlfriend Anna is laying in a hospital bed gravely ill. I’m guessing that a stuffed baboon is going to make a pretty rad get-well present.

Frank is a rich boy (that explains the feathered hair and way too tight dress slacks) whose parents died and now he lives with his crazy housekeeper, Iris, and pines away for his dead mother.

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Iris is one of those housekeepers who keeps her hair in a bun and is very stern looking. We know immediately from this that she is a sicko who is hung up on Frankie.

Like any obsessed housekeeper whose boss actually has a life and a girlfriend, Iris employs an old crone to sit around the kitchen table jabbing big needles into a voodoo doll of Frankie’s girlfriend.

Anna has a bad reaction to all this voodoo and promptly dies. During the visitation Frank surreptitiously injects his dead girlfriend with some kind of fluid from a handy-dandy syringe he has in his coat pocket. Later that night, Frank loads up the van with shovels, coffee and some sandwiches because it’s graverobbing time!

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Frankie digs her up and puts her in the van, then promptly gets a flat tire. Of all the luck! Once the flat is fixed, he sees that a chubby girl has climbed into the van and made her fat ass right at home.

When I’m hauling around the freshly dug up corpses of loved ones, I generally don’t pick up hitchhikers or allow them to stay in my van if they’ve climbed in on their own, but Frankie is merely a necrophilic-taxidermist, not a genius, so he just kind of frowns and lets this girl ride back to his place with him.

Problems ensue once she wakes up from her pot-induced nap and sees that Frankie is busy playing “home embalmer” and tries to escape. There’s a struggle and he ends up pulling her fingernails out with a pair of pliers. I think he also takes a bite out of her. It’s a cruel world to be a fugly hitchhiker in.

Frankie gets his girlfriend all fixed up and keeps her in a bed next to another bed where he pumps other chicks before they’re killed. Iris doesn’t seem to mind this fixation on Anna and actually helps him dispose of the body of the hitchhiker. (Iris is just as demented as Frankie as she tackles the dismemberment of a human body with the same sort of efficiency as mopping the kitchen floor.)

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Frankie tells Iris that he’ll marry her, but that he’s not getting rid of Anna. The wheels come off this Weekend at Bernie’s-like love train though when Anna’s sister shows up.

The film isn’t terribly involving because we aren’t given much in the way of motivation for anyone or their actions. Iris is obviously a freak, but she shows up on screen that way. Frankie immediately decides to keep his girlfriend’s body like it was the final step in the natural course of grieving. There’s no reason why Frankie goes wacko like that, except for a brief allusion to his fixation on his dead mommy. Why didn’t he dig her up, too?

This whole concoction kind of sat on my TV screen like the pork chops I refused to eat as a youth – ugly looking, smelly, dry, and gristly. The gore scenes are spaced out between dull scenes of the housekeeper doing her best to look and act strange (trying on dresses, offering her boob to Frankie) so that the only audience for the film (harcore Eurohorror fans) walk away disappointed save only for a couple of memorable dissection scenes. Pretty painful voodoo from D’Amato.

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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