Monday, November 8, 2021

Beyond Darkness – Severin Films (Blu-ray/CD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1990
Director: Claudio Fragasso
Writers: Claudio Fragasso, Rossella Drudi
Cast: Gene LeBrock, David Brandon, Barbara Bingham, Michael Paul Stephenson, Theresa Walker, Stephen Brown, Mary Coulson

Release Date: October 26th, 2021
Approximate Running Times: 92 Minutes 56 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $34.95

"When a Satanic child killer is executed, she transforms the new home of a young reverend and his family into a portal to Hell." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.5/5

Beyond Darkness comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44.3 GB

Feature: 26.6 GB

Though there is no information provided about the transfer, It looks like this release uses the same source as Shout! Factory’s 2015 Blu-ray. That said, there is noticeable noise reduction that varies in degree. Colors look very good, the image generally looks crisp (Beyond Darkness often employs soft focus cinematography) and black levels fare well.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with two audio options: a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. Both audio tracks sound clean, clear, and balanced. Range-wise, the score sounds robust and the ambient sound is well-represented. Included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles for the English language track and English subtitles for the Italian language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a trailer for Beyond Darkness (1 minute 28 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an interview with actor David Brandon titled Sign Of The Cross (28 minutes 45 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with screenwriter Rossella Drudi titled The Devil In Mrs. Drudi (22 minutes 50 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with director Claudio Fragasso titled Beyond Possession (37 minutes 16 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), a CD that contains composer Carlo Maria Cordio's score for Beyond Darkness and a four-page leaflet that contains information about the score and track listing for the score.

Summary:

Despite the fact that American cinema has always influenced Italian genre cinema,The thing that sets apart late 1980’s and early 1990’s Italian genre cinema is how it deliberately tries to appeal to an American audience. While Italian genre cinema of the past was just as much geared towards Italian audiences as it was to an international audience,

By the mid-1980's, Italian cinema was a shell of its former self. With most filmmakers making the move from theatrical to television, That said, there were a few filmmakers who persisted and continued to make genre cinema, albeit on shoestring budgets. A case in point is Claudio Fragasso, a prolific filmmaker who directed or co-directed fourteen films over an eleven-year span.

For those who are uninitiated to the cinema of Claudio Fragasso, He’s a by-the-numbers filmmaker whose films are often hampered by their anemic budgets. Also, most of his films are essentially cheap knockoffs of American films that were box office hits.

Beyond Darkness is the fifth of seven films known as the "La Casa series." The first two films are Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2, and the last two films are House II: The Second Story and House III: The Horror Show. The other three films are Ghosthouse, Witchery, and Beyond Darkness. That said, there’s really nothing that links these films outside of their Italian rebranding as "La Casa" films.

Beyond Darkness is a possession-themed film that is clearly inspired by films like The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror. Unfortunately, like so many Italian films that pull ideas from other films, The result is films that lack their own identity. Also, these Italian mishmash films often lack cohesion and feel like they're built around their main set pieces.

From a production standpoint, what Beyond Darkness lacks in originality, it makes up for with WTF moments that could have only come from the mind of Claudio Fragasso. Carlo Maria Cordio's score is Beyond Darkness’ greatest asset, as it does a good job setting the mood. Also, David Brandon (StageFright) is very good in the role of an alcoholic priest whose faith has been tested by a demonic entity. That said, there are a few areas where Beyond Darkness comes up short. The cinematography looks flat and lacks the flair that’s become synonymous with Italian genre cinema, and the dated special effects often draw attention to themselves.

Beyond Darkness gets a strong release from Severin Films that comes with a trio of informative extras and a CD that contains the score.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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