Shaun vs. Beyond the Darkness (1979)

After a taxidermist loses his fiancé to a mysterious illness, he digs up the body and works his magic on her while murdering anyone who gets too close to her.  Your odds of vomiting have just gone up 500%.


Judging a Book by its Cover

-A scary house, a stormy sky, a nightmare-inducing mask with multiple faces…and a naked chick?  This movie is gonna have everything!

-Whoever made this poster invaded my goddamn nightmares.

-I can’t wait to see how this image is represented in the movie…this happens, right?


Have a vomit bag handy, you might need it!

Directed by Joe D’Amato (Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, Anthropophagus)

Starring Kieran Canter, Cinzia Monreale, and Franca Stoppi

The film begins with Frank Wyler, a taxidermist by trade, whose fiancé, Anna, is in the hospital though the circumstances of the illness are unknown to the doctors.  Frank visits her and she passes away during a final kiss after Frank’s housekeeper, Iris, plunges a needle into a voodoo doll back home.  Distraught over the loss, Frank comes back home where Iris offers him a boob to suckle on.  Things are getting pretty weird in the first five minutes already.

After the funeral is over, Frank injects Anna’s body with a substance and returns to the gravesite to dig up her body. On the road back home, Frank picks up a hitchhiker who makes herself comfortable in his vehicle and falls asleep as he continues to his, I dunno, lair?  Unconcerned with the hitchhiker catching him in the middle of work, Frank begins the taxidermy process on his former lover by pulling out her guts and going so far as to take a bite out of her heart.  The hitchhiker catches Frank putting in the glass eyes and tries to escape.  What’s a guy to do other than stop her by ripping off her fingernails with a pair of pliers proceeded by choking her to death. After a handjob from Iris, she then helps Frank get rid of the body by dismembering it and throwing the body parts in a tub of acid.

Frank and Iris continue the weird murder thing with a poor female jogger that Frank invites in after she injures herself.  Frank shows off Anna’s body while making out then bites out a chunk of her neck, having her bleed out.  Iris and Frank then toss the body into a furnace to get rid of it.  Iris thinks her relationship with Frank is going so well she announces their engagement at a dinner party which catches him off guard and Frank leaves the party which I think means he’s not down with her plans which is great because the next day he runs into Anna’s twin sister and must protect her from the vengeful Iris.

I think it’s safe to say that Beyond the Darkness is more concerned in churning the viewers’ stomachs than telling a sensical, coherent story.  When not cheering/groaning at the sickly deeds on screen, you may shake your head at what they call plot advancement in between.  The film seems in such a hurry to get to the next bloody set-piece, the victims literally walk into Frank’s home to get murdered.  Particularly odd are the scenes involving Frank and Iris as he descends into madness and she’s just fine with it as she believes they’re getting closer as a couple although he often rejects her afterward.  There are bits and pieces of a story here, especially what’s going on between Frank and Iris, but it’s often thrown to the wayside because it’s been five whole minutes and another victim is needed.  It’s a shame but it is what it is.

TL;DR

Story: 3 – Nutbar taxidermist Frank digs up his fiancé’s body after she passes away from a mysterious illness then proceeds to viciously murder several women with his psychotic nanny who will do anything for him.

Blood: 10 – Congratulations, I had to look away at a couple of cringy scenes, such as the above-mentioned taxidermy scene and the fingernail removal scene made me curl into a ball.

Boobs: 5 – While the women being shown off here are attractive, none of the scenes were particularly enjoyable to watch.  Thanks for killing my boner!

Overall: 4Beyond the Darkness is best enjoyed/revolted in its bloodiest moments, but the storytelling in between is practically nonsensical and rushed to get to the next death scene lest you be bored or something.

Trivia

Real pig intestines were used in the big taxidermy scene.  (Also, shouldn’t have that been done prior to the funeral anyway?)

Director Joe D’Amato was intent on making a film that would make people vomit.  Good job!

Beyond the Darkness was released to Italian cinemas with a poor showing but was released a few years later with a different title to piggyback off the success of the La Casa (Evil Dead) series.  In Spain, it was marketed as part of the House franchise.

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