BEYOND DARKNESS aka La Casa 5 (Claudio Fragasso, 1990)
Dear gawd, when will the Fragasso reviews end? Soon, I assure you, very soon. But until then, beware: they will pop up when least expected, much like the Goblins' materializing out of nowhere in Troll 2, and just as devastatingly.
Father George (Michael Brandon) oversees the excution of a witch who murdered many children to provide innocent souls for Satan. However, the witch refuses to rest in peace, and torments not only George (who becomes an alcoholic pretty damn quick after the execution), but Father Peter (Gene LeBrock), his wife Annie (Barbara Bingham) and their children Martin and Carol (Martin is played by the same kid from Troll 2!) who moved into her house. Soon, almost randomly, the black-garbed, bloody-faced souls of the damned come for their children. They survive the first assault with some divine intervention, but rather than, say... MOVE AWAY, they do the smart thing and decide to stay in the house. Guess what happens next?
There's a few parallels between this film and Troll 2, which were likely made back-to-back. First, we have Joshua/ Martin. Then the soundtrack by Carlo Maria Cordio. In fact, it's the same soundtrack used in fellow Filmirage productions Troll 2, Witchery, etc. The makeup in Beyond Darkness is notably better than the crummy masks used in Troll 2, but the special effects are basically the same: wind, dry ice, and bright backlighting. I might mention that the acting here is much more believable, though the expected bad dialogue and derivative story ruin any chance Fragasso had of making a decent B movie. They seriously borrowed (aka ripped off) not only The Exorcist, but Poltergeist, The Fog, and The Beyond. I'm sure there's a couple of titles that I've missed, but you get the idea. What's most tragic is that there are a couple of spooky moments in the film, but they're never properly explored. Beyond Darkness is frightfully cheesy, but not in an enjoyable kind of way.
I feel I have to somehow justify the hours, nay, years I've spent watching some of the best, worst, and most unique horror and thriller movies ever made. I hope casual browsers might just catch on, and that experienced Italian horror fans might come across new and unheard-of titles to track down. If nothing else, please enjoy the pretty (and occasionally frightening) pictures.