Release Date(s)1979 (July 25, 2017)
Studio(s)D.R. Mass Communications/Aquarius Releasing (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: D+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B+
Buio Omega, otherwise known as Beyond the Darkness, was produced in Italy in 1979, but not released in the U.S. until 1984. Directed by Joe D’Amato of Anthropophagus and Porno Holocaust, it was also a remake of an earlier Italian film starring Franco Nero entitled The Third Eye (Il terzo occhio). With a memorable score from Goblin and enough shocking visceral content that would rival even the sickest shot-on-video extravaganza, the film is one of the lesser-known Italian horrors to ever make its way across the Atlantic ocean.
Beyond the Darkness, for all intents and purposes, is a rough movie to get through, meaning that a lot of it is quite stomach-churning, even for die-hard horror fans. It’s unpleasant in sections, making the entire experience one of mostly disgust, and not necessarily in a good way. The story itself involves a young taxidermist, whose ill beloved suddenly dies. Afterwards, he robs her grave and brings her home, preserving her and keeping her in the bed next to him. Things get even more bizarre when his psychotic housekeeper, wayward hitchhikers, and a snooping mortician make life much more difficult for him. There are many twists and turns throughout to keep you on your toes, if you can manage to stomach some of the more grueling and nauseating passages.
Severin Films’ Blu-ray of Beyond the Darkness features a newly-restored transfer of the film. It’s a healthy presentation, albeit slightly soft, with mostly solid grain levels and good texturing and detail. Color reproduction is surprisingly robust with naturally-appearing skin tones and deep black levels. Contrast and brightness levels are appropriate without going overboard, and there’s no major evidence of heavy noise removal. However, there is some leftover print damage, only mildly interfering with the presentation, which includes speckling, staining, and an occasional line running through the frame here and there. I also spotted one shot that seemed to be taken from an SD source, which is an early scene in the funeral parlor. Audio options include English 2.0 mono DTS-HD and Italian 2.0 mono Dolby Digital. Goblin’s score is represented quite well, as is the English dubbing, which is more obvious than ever now. Everything comes through quite clearly, although sound effects seem a tad thin at times, which is likely inherent in the source. It’s a satisfying presentation of the film, overall. Subtitles are also included in English if needed.
The supplemental material includes the nearly 70-minute documentary Joe D’Amato: The Horror Experience, which covers the director’s entire career; The Omega Woman, an interview with actress Franca Stoppi; Goblin Reborn Perform Buio Omega Live 2016; a Locations Revisited featurette; Sick Love, an interview with actress Cinzia Monreale; the film’s trailer; and best of all, a CD soundtrack of Goblin’s score, which is a Blu-ray exclusive. Also included as an Easter egg is a brief two-minute interview with Terry Levene. Missing from the Shriek Show DVD release is an interview with assistant director Donatella Donati, which acted as a brief audio commentary; an additional interview with actress Cinzia Monreale; and a still gallery of posters and lobby cards. Also missing from the 88 Films Blu-ray release is a set of alternate Italian opening and closing credits. And just to say we’ve covered everything, the German and French theatrical trailers from other releases elsewhere in the world aren’t included here either.
I can only recommend Beyond the Darkness to those wishing to explore the depths of Italian horror cinema. It’s a grisly piece, one that even I, someone who has seen a number of so-called “gross” films, felt a bit queasy while watching it. It’s certain to be an experience you’re not likely to forget, and with Severin Films’ presentation, along with their extras, it’s the best way to do so.
- Tim Salmons